Explain the difference – Forbes Advisor

Editorial Note: We earn a commission on partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.

It is easy to confuse information security and cybersecurity, as the two areas overlap in many ways. In fact, cybersecurity is a subset of information security. However, the fields are not quite the same, each presenting distinct specialties and requiring different skills.

Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between information security and cybersecurity.

Information Security vs Cyber ​​Security

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recognizes information security and cybersecurity as separate career fields. That said, there is definitely some overlap between the two. Below are the main definitions and distinctions of each.

What is Information Security?

To some degree, almost everyone wants their personal information to be secure, which means that it can only be accessed and used by authorized people. This is the goal of information security (infosec).

According to NIST, infosec involves the protection of information and information systems from unauthorized use. The domain aims to ensure availability, integrity and confidentiality.

One way to understand infosec in relation to cybersecurity is to think of the domain as an umbrella term that includes all data, not just data stored in cyberspace. This shows how cybersecurity is a type of information security, but the two fields are not the same.

Information security teams create and implement policies and systems to protect information. For large organizations, strict security systems are needed to protect customers.

What is cybersecurity?

Living in the 21st century means that much data is stored in computer systems and networks. This is the case for almost all industries, and information must be protected to a high degree. Cybersecurity-focused information security professionals are responsible for securing this data.

NIST defines cybersecurity as the protection, damage prevention, and restoration of electronic communications services and systems. This includes information stored in these systems, which cybersecurity professionals strive to protect.

Cybersecurity covers everything related to electronic systems and communications. Within the field of cybersecurity, there are subcategories that require additional specialization. These include cloud, network and critical infrastructure security.

The biggest differences

Confusion between information security and cybersecurity can occur because most of the information that we want to store, protect and transmit exists in cyberspace. While cybersecurity is part of information security, some aspects of information security are not included in the domain of cybersecurity.

Information security is a general term for the creation and maintenance of systems and policies to protect all information, whether digital, physical or intellectual, not just data in cyberspace.

An information security expert can develop the means of access to data by authorized persons or establish security measures to ensure information security. Cybersecurity, on the other hand, focuses on protecting information from cyberattacks such as ransomware and spyware.

How information security and cybersecurity overlap

Information security and cybersecurity overlap in many ways. In addition to having similar security practices, these areas also require similar training and skills.

Shared Security Practices

The most significant overlap between infosec and cybersecurity is that they use the CIA triad model (confidentiality, integrity and availability of information) to develop security policies.

The first of the triad is privacy, ensuring that information is only accessible and editable by authorized users. From a consumer perspective, for example, we expect online retailers to store and protect our data such as credit card information, home addresses and other personal information.

Second, the integrity of the information guarantees that it has not been tampered with and that it is completely reliable. To take the example of the online merchant, the data transmitted between the merchant and your bank must be secure. Otherwise, there may be a discrepancy between the actual cost of your goods and the amount you paid.

Finally, information availability means that data is available when you need it. For example, if you need to know how much money you have in your bank account, you need to be able to access that information.

Education and related skills

At a minimum, many infosec and cybersecurity careers require a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, information technology, or a related field. These degrees prepare you with basic knowledge and skills to help you land a job as an analyst, engineer, specialist, or tester.

These careers also require familiarity with technologies such as database user interface and query software, network monitoring software, virus protection, and web platform development.

Common careers

Many information security and cybersecurity careers use similar or interchangeable language in their job descriptions. Indeed, employers often seek infosec professionals with a wide range of security skills, including those in cybersecurity.

Information security roles

Information Security Analyst

  • Career overview: With much of our valuable information stored on computers, information security analysts often perform similar tasks to cybersecurity analysts. These professionals are responsible for planning, implementing, upgrading and monitoring security measures to protect computer networks and information. They can also create and share reports on security measures and data breaches.
  • Average annual salary: More than $74,000, according to Payscale

Information Security Specialist

  • Career overview: The role of an information security specialist is similar to that of an information security analyst. Although day-to-day duties may vary depending on the specific position, these professionals are part of teams that develop and implement information risk management frameworks, standards and policies. They also participate in risk assessments and help users access databases.
  • Average annual salary: More than $76,000, according to Payscale

IT security consultant

  • Career overview: As a computer security consultant, you use your computer security experience to evaluate and recommend improvements to an organization’s information security. Your responsibilities may include supporting, implementing and monitoring improvements in data privacy, identity access management systems, cybersecurity management and operations.
  • Average annual salary: More than $82,000, according to Payscale

Cybersecurity roles

Cyber ​​Security Analyst

  • Career overview: Cybersecurity analysts focus on protecting data against cyberattacks. These professionals perform threat and incident detection and respond to data breaches. Depending on the employer, cybersecurity analysts can develop cybersecurity awareness training and forensic analysis of information systems.
  • Average annual salary: More than $77,000, according to Payscale.

Cybersecurity Engineer

  • Career overview: The role of a cybersecurity engineer is broad, overseeing the development of cybersecurity procedures and policies. This work includes building and maintaining firewalls to ensure the secure transmission of information, developing security controls to protect digital files, and monitoring and responding to security breaches. If you’re wondering how to become a cybersecurity engineer, start with a bachelor’s degree or a cybersecurity bootcamp.
  • Average annual salary: More than $98,000, according to Payscale

Penetration tester

  • Career overview: Penetration testers are indeed hackers, but with good intentions: to improve information protection practices. Through simulated internal and external cyberattacks, these professionals penetrate and exploit systems and access sensitive information to identify vulnerabilities. They then design and propose security solutions to address these vulnerabilities. They also find system weaknesses and suggest improvements to strengthen defenses against malicious attacks.
  • Average annual salary: More than $88,000, according to Payscale

Frequently Asked Questions About Information Security Vs Cybersecurity

Is there a difference between cybersecurity and information security?

Yes. Cybersecurity focuses entirely on computer and web-related security. In contrast, information security covers all forms of securing information. Cybersecurity is a type of information security.

Is cybersecurity a subset of information security?

Yes. Information security involves protecting data across all media, and cybersecurity focuses on protecting data stored in cyberspace.


Leave a Reply