Organizations that store and exchange sensitive data using information networks should be mindful of how vulnerable the information is in the individual machines used in their networks.

As network security issues become more predominant, information assurance is now a subtle and essential part of information security. However, implementing effective information assurance management and security policies can be challenging. But three key aspects of information assurance act as guidelines for maintaining information system security against various threats methodically and comprehensively.

Whether designing and implementing new information systems or supporting existing ones, you should aim to reduce the exposure to and impact of cyber threats and cyber attacks by working within the information assurance frameworks.  

In this article, we will explore each aspect of information assurance and which scenarios they suit. Also, understanding the difference between cyber security and information assurance is important to avoid confusion and making mistakes that may encourage potential security threats.

What Is Information Assurance?

Information assurance is the practice of protecting and managing risks related to information and information systems. It ensures the integrity, availability, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of user data.

These measures that manage information related-risks include a range of security controls. These shouldcover theprocessing and transmission of information systems by incorporating detection, protection, and reaction capabilities for data and information systems stored in physical, electronic, and cloud locations and while in transit.

Unnoticed loopholes in network security may lead to unauthorized access, copying, editing, or deleting of valuable information. This is why information assurance is essential.

Information Assurance vs. Cyber Security

Information assurance and cyber security are terms that are often used interchangeably. But regardless of the similarities, they play different roles in network security and should be viewed as separate disciplines.

Information assurance has a broader and more strategic focus, including security, processing, and analysis of digital and non-digital data and protecting information systems. On the other hand, cyber security is a discipline focused on the practical processes used to defend networks against malicious attacks. 

Even though cybersecurity is a sub-discipline of information assurance, both play different roles in network security. Here is how they differ.

i) Focus

Information assurance focuses on risk management and creates guidelines for securing the information on physical or digital systems. Cybersecurity focuses on building resilient network architecture to secure digital assets from unauthorized access.

ii) Scope

The scope of information assurance is broader because it’s concerned with the business aspect of information. Conversely, cybersecurity deals with the basics to protect everything; thus, the scope is more detailed.  

iii) Approach

Information assurance is strategic and deals with policy creation and deployment to secure information assets. It understands how a business engages with information, the value of the information, and how exposed the information is. Cybersecurity is technical and deals with security controls and tools to protect and defend against cyberattacks.  

iv) Resources Protected

Cybersecurity protects all digital investments, including information, networks, infrastructures, and applications. Information assurance protects both physical and digital data and information systems.

Three Key Aspects of Information Assurance

The key principles of information assurance are referred to as the CIA triad, an acronym for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Each of these components represents a fundamental objective of data security. These pillars of information assurance can be applied in different ways, depending on the sensitivity of the organization’s information and information systems.

In the sections below, we’ll dive into each component of the CIA triad;

1. Confidentiality

This aspect is closely related to privacy and the use of encryption. Data confidentiality means that only authorized users can access the data. Additionally, it protects against unauthorized disclosure of information. After all, when information is kept confidential, it means that other parties cannot compromise it.

Confidential data is not disclosed to people who don’t require them or who shouldn’t have access to them. Ensuring confidentiality means information is organized in terms of access control and data sensitivity. A breach of confidentiality can occur through various means, such as hacking or social engineering.

Sometimes safeguarding data confidentiality involves security awareness training for those who are privy to sensitive information. Training helps familiarize authorized parties with risk factors and how to protect against them. Other aspects of training include information on social engineering, strong passwords, and password-related practices that can limit remote access.

2. Integrity

Data integrity refers to the assurance that the data is not tampered with or degraded across its lifecycle. It is the certainty that the data is not subjected to either intentional or unintentional unauthorized modification. Integrity could be compromised at two points during the transmission process. These include the upload and transmission of data or the data storage in the database or collection.

Buggy programs can affect productivity. Therefore, the principle of integrity is designed to ensure that data can be trusted to be accurate. Various aspects help maintain data integrity, including cyber essentials such as antivirus programs and firewalls, programs that restrict access to sensitive data or operations, also known as user access controls, and employee education and awareness of unsafe acts.

3. Availability

Data availability means that the information is available and easily accessible to authorized users when it is needed. For a system to demonstrate availability, it should have properly functioning communication channels, computing systems, and security controls.

For instance, critical systems such as power generation, medical equipment, and safety systems usually have extreme requirements in relation to availability. These systems should be resilient against cyber threats and have protection against hardware failures, power outages, and other events that may affect system availability.

When an individual needs data to perform a job and is ready to utilize it, the data must be readily accessible in a sensible and reliable manner so that the task can be completed on time and the organization can continue its processes.

Other Principles

In addition to these three key aspects of information assurance, there are two other principles, including;

i) Authenticity

The authenticity principle involves the verification of the identity of users before giving them access to the information. Methods of ensuring authentication include two-factor authentication, biometrics, password management, and other techniques.

The primary goal of this principle is to prevent identity theft. Therefore authenticity means ensuring that those who can access information are who they say they are. It may also be used to identify other devices.

ii) Non-Repudiation

The information system needs to provide proof of delivery confirming that data was properly transmitted.

The non-repudiation principle means if someone has access to the organization’s information systems, they can’t deny having completed an action within the systems because there are methods proving that they did the action. It keeps the information systems up-to-date and encrypts digital signatures to remove deniability and guarantee communication transmission.

The primary goal of this principle is to guarantee that the digital signatures are those of the intended parties, thus allowing authorization for the protected information.


An Information Security Management System (ISMS) is designed to give your organization a framework that protects your information and information systems against security threats. Therefore, every element of an information security program and security control put in place by an organization should be designed to achieve one or more of these three key aspects.

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