Information security, sometimes shortened to InfoSec, is the practice of defending information from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, perusal, inspection, recording or destruction. It is a general term that can be used regardless of the form the data may take (electronic, physical, etc...)

Two major aspects of information security are:

IT security: Sometimes referred to as computer security, Information Technology Security is information security applied to technology (most often some form of computer system). It is worthwhile to note that a computer does not necessarily mean a home desktop. A computer is any device with a processor and some memory (even a calculator). IT security specialists are almost always found in any major enterprise/establishment due to the nature and value of the data within larger businesses. They are responsible for keeping all of the technology within the company secure from malicious cyber attacks that often attempt to breach into critical private information or gain control of the internal systems.

Information assurance: The act of ensuring that data is not lost when critical issues arise. These issues include but are not limited to: natural disasters, computer/server malfunction, physical theft, or any other instance where data has the potential of being lost. Since most information is stored on computers in our modern era, information assurance is typically dealt with by IT security specialists. One of the most common methods of providing information assurance is to have an off-site backup of the data in case one of the mentioned issues arise.

Key concepts

The CIA triad (confidentiality, integrity and availability) is one of the core principles of information security.

There is continuous debate about extending this classic trio.[citation needed] Other principles such as Accountability have sometimes been proposed for addition - it has been pointed out[citation needed] that issues such as Non-Repudiation do not fit well within the three core concepts, and as regulation of computer systems has increased (particularly amongst the Western nations) Legality is becoming a key consideration for practical security installations.

In 1992 and revised in 2002 the OECD's Guidelines for the Security of Information Systems and Networks proposed the nine generally accepted principles: Awareness, Responsibility, Response, Ethics, Democracy, Risk Assessment, Security Design and Implementation, Security Management, and Reassessment. Building upon those, in 2004 the NIST's Engineering Principles for Information Technology Security proposed 33 principles. From each of these derived guidelines and practices.

In 2002, Donn Parker proposed an alternative model for the classic CIA triad that he called the six atomic elements of information. The elements are confidentiality, possession, integrity, authenticity, availability, and utility. The merits of the Parkerian hexad are a subject of debate amongst security professionals.


Confidentiality refers to preventing the disclosure of information to unauthorized individuals or systems. For example, a credit card transaction on the Internet requires the credit card number to be transmitted from the buyer to the merchant and from the merchant to a transaction processing network. The system attempts to enforce confidentiality by encrypting the card number during transmission, by limiting the places where it might appear (in databases, log files, backups, printed receipts, and so on), and by restricting access to the places where it is stored. If an unauthorized party obtains the card number in any way, a breakage of confidentiality has occurred.

Confidentiality is necessary for maintaining the privacy of the people whose personal information a system holds.


In information security, data integrity means maintaining and assuring the accuracy and consistency of data over its entire life-cycle. This means that data cannot be modified in an unauthorized or undetected manner. This is not the same thing as referential integrity in databases, although it can be viewed as a special case of Consistency as understood in the classic ACID model of transaction processing. Integrity is violated when a message is actively modified in transit. Information security systems typically provide message integrity in addition to data confidentiality.


For any information system to serve its purpose, the information must be available when it is needed. This means that the computing systems used to store and process the information, the security controls used to protect it, and the communication channels used to access it must be functioning correctly. High availability systems aim to remain available at all times, preventing service disruptions due to power outages, hardware failures, and system upgrades. Ensuring availability also involves preventing denial-of-service attacks.


In computing, e-Business, and information security, it is necessary to ensure that the data, transactions, communications or documents (electronic or physical) are genuine. It is also important for authenticity to validate that both parties involved are who they claim to be. Some information security systems incorporate authentication features such as "digital signatures", which give evidence that the message data is genuine and was sent by someone possessing the proper signing key.

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