The Importance of the CIA Triad to Cybersecurity

The Importance of the CIA Triad to Cybersecurity post image

CIA stands for confidentiality, integrity, and availability. These three components should form the groundwork of your business’s security measures. If your company does not fully satisfy this model, the security of your business data is at risk.

The importance of CIA in cybersecurity can be highlighted by the fact it serves as the guiding principle of ISO/IEC 27001. This is an internationally recognised information security standard. To comply with this global principle, you need to implement CIA in your business.

Read on as we define and highlight the importance of this triad further.

What is CIA in cybersecurity?

Here’s an overview of the triad:

Confidentiality

Access to the sensitive information of a company must be limited to authorised personnel. The first component of the CIA triad refers to the measures a company implements to keep information private and inaccessible to unauthorised bodies.

In terms of what data this refers to, it mainly relates to the data and financial information of the company, as well as sensitive data related to specific employees, customers, and stakeholders. However, confidentiality needs to be implemented to protect all information that would be harmful should it fall into the wrong hands.

This data should be stored in robust databases and protected by comprehensive cybersecurity software. Data encryption is a must, as are antivirus, network firewalls, endpoint security, and intrusion detection systems (IDS).

To safeguard this information against human error, password security needs to be implemented and the importance of data protection needs to be taught to all employees.

Information also needs to be organised into separate classifications based on its level of importance. This allows you to organise your data into relevant databases and provide additional protection wherever necessary.

Integrity

 Simply maintaining data is not enough. Measures need to be put in place to maintain its integrity – as in, information must be kept correct, consistent, and untampered. This way, the same data that goes into a database is the same data that comes out. Processes must be put in place to ensure that information cannot be edited or changed when in transit, storage, or at any other part of its lifecycle.

If records are stored records are incorrect, there’s no point in maintaining them. Incorrect data can cause processing problems, have a knock-on effect on the integrity of other data, and can negatively impact the reputation of your business.

Typically, data is altered by hackers to cause internal business problems. Data such as passwords is often also altered to promote further unauthorised access. Human error can also result in tampered data, as information can be inputted incorrectly.

With no security measures in place, it can be difficult for businesses to ensure that integrity is maintained. According to a study conducted by IBM, it can take an average of 207 days for a company to identify a security breach.

Measures must be taken to ensure that data is inputted correctly by authorised personnel. Once inputted, security measures such as encryption, hashing, digital certificates, and signatures can help maintain the trustworthiness of information.

Databases should also feature event log technology to record whenever access and modifications occur. Version history features could also be used to review how inputted data has been altered over time.

Availability

The security measures you put in place must not compromise the accessibility of your information. When authorised users need to review a dataset, availability must be guaranteed by your security system.

The storage functions you have in place should be able to transfer data to necessary parties quickly. To avoid inconvenient wait times, databases and storage solutions should be kept up-to-date, errors should be resolved promptly, and redundant information should be removed periodically.

This doesn’t only refer to day-to-day access, but also availability during emergencies. Availability is about having a disaster recovery plan in place should a power outage or data breach occur. You should also have data backed up on a third-party database, allowing you to easily recover your lost data whenever necessary.

Even when data is lost, backup plans need to be put in place to ensure that data can still be promptly available. This will minimise downtime and maximise the chances of your business recovering fully.

What is the AIC triad?

The AIC and the CIA triad are the same model, with the key components listed in a different order. AIC stands for availability, integrity, and availability. These are used interchangeably, but AIC is often used to avoid confusion with CIA as in the ‘Central Intelligence Agency”.

Why is CIA important?

This triad is the checklist you need to follow when implementing new cybersecurity measures. It should also be your first port of call when reviewing what went wrong during a security breach. By measuring your security features against the three components of the triad, you should be able to identify areas of security that require improvement.

By using the CIA principles to build your cybersecurity infrastructure, you unlock the following benefits for your business:

  • Secure data Cyber attacks are becoming more advanced and sophisticated. By implementing confidentiality, integrity, and availability in your cybersecurity system, you mitigate the risks of losing your data through hacking.
  • Identify vulnerabilities – By analysing your security measures with CIA in mind, you can more easily identify threats, risks, and vulnerabilities in your system. Once identified, you can implement controls and software to resolve these vulnerabilities.
  • Regulatory compliance – This security triad puts you in line with legal frameworks and regulations related to cybersecurity and data protection.
  • Cohesive protection – The triad is designed to cover all bases. From cyber attacks to human error, this triad safeguards your data against all potential security risks. Without it, you may invest too much in preventing cyber-attacks, and not enough in ensuring availability.

Is CIA limited?

The principal dates to the late 1990s, so was invented to be applied to a totally different business world than the one we’re in now. Since then, virtual data storage needs have expanded, and we’ve seen the emergence of cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and many other new business computing concepts.

However, CIA as a guiding principle remains relevant. It forms the basis of modern security infrastructure, from which you can build a dependable and confidential security setup.

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