December 17, 2021

The difference between cyber security and information security

Having a secure digital environment is essential for businesses operating in the internet age. A disruption to tech can have major consequences for employee productivity and business functions. Managing a complex digital ecosystem means being proactive when it comes to cyber security and information security.

Hackers know how to tap into common vulnerabilities so security professionals need to understand what these different branches of security mean, in order to monitor weaknesses and keep ahead of cyber threats.

Data kept on computer systems is never totally secure. As companies increase the number of devices and networks they use, data can more easily be compromised. The growth in cyber security and information security can be seen across all industries that rely on the internet for their business operations and communications. The move to the cloud and the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) has further increased the need for excellent digital security.

Both cyber security and information security relate to how secure computer systems are. Unpacking these terms can help businesses get a better understanding of digital security risks and the measures needed to mitigate them. As a leader in corporate connectivity and digital solutions, one of our missions is to support businesses in protecting their networks and data from attacks.

Corporate cyber security

Cyber security and information security are not the same things, although there is some crossover in the sense that both focus on the security of a company’s digital infrastructure. Cyber security is about protecting networks, servers, computers and other digital systems from malicious attacks.

There are a number of different cyber attacks. For example, companies can be targets of financial attacks through ransomware or a distributed denial of services (DDoS) attack. When cybercriminals inflict a DDoS attack, a company’s network gets flooded with fake traffic. The result is that the network becomes overloaded and crashes.

Infecting computer systems and networks with viruses (e.g. malware, Trojans, adware and spyware) is another tactic used by cybercriminals to jeopardise business operations. As the reliance on digital systems grows, so does the frequency of cyber attacks. The development of the IoT lends itself to unprecedented attacks.

Rapid technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning lead to higher exposure to cybercrime. Companies have less control over systems as automation replaces manual input. Since some systems are still in their infancy, it is much easier for hackers to infiltrate them as companies wait for security patches and updates.

Businesses need to make security plans that encompass all aspects of the business network, not just computers and other devices. Attacks can suspend business operations, causing lost productivity and revenue. Businesses are required to spend more money than ever on cyber security in order to minimise the risk of attacks and facilitate disaster recovery should an attack take place.

Information security for business

Information security is concerned with the protection of data from unauthorised access or modification. While there is certainly an overlap between cyber security and information security, the latter refers to the security of both digital and non-digital information.

A lot of valuable information resides on the cloud. As confidential data is stored or transferred, it is vulnerable to security threats. With the introduction of the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act, companies are held responsible for the information that they store about their employees and customers. Businesses can face hefty fines or penalties if personal information is leaked or tampered with.

Information security deals with keeping data confidential. It also looks at protecting the integrity of information. In other words, if information is wrongly modified or tampered with, this constitutes a breach in information security. The third branch of information security deals with its availability. Information needs to be accessible by authorised persons at all times, otherwise, this is considered to be a disruption to the company’s information security protocols.

This type of security issue is not new to the business world and perpetrators are punishable by law. For example, in 1997, an engineer working for Gillette stole the design of a new shaver and emailed it to one of the competitors. The employee was found guilty of industrial espionage.

Hackers can track and monitor data without businesses even knowing. Cyber criminals can keep an eye on research and development (R&D) data, important research findings, business strategies and marketing plans. Selling this information to competitors can be highly detrimental, making cyber espionage one of the main threats to a company’s information security.

Implementing digital security measures for businesses

Businesses need robust security protocols to prevent the issues associated with cyber security and information security. Keeping operating systems and software up-to-date is the first step to ensuring the latest security updates are in place. Having a clear plan for regularly updating systems and hardware can go a long way in ensuring digital security for a business.

Doing a risk assessment of the biggest vulnerabilities can help security professionals understand what a business needs to prioritise, in terms of their cyber and information security. Once that has been done, policies and plans need to be drawn up to ensure that all employees know the parameters of how to engage with the company’s networks and computer systems. For instance, an email policy might include banning the use of personal email accounts on business computers, monitoring emails for high-risk attachments and preventing staff from opening attachments from unknown senders.

Companies can consider imposing internet use policies that limit the use of the internet for business purposes only, tracking internet usage and preventing access to offensive sites. A system-use policy might include multi-factor authentication, encryption of USB sticks or rules around password use.

Since there is a shortage of cyber security professionals, more businesses are turning to hosted security to ensure that their networks and computers remain up and running at all times. SEACOM Business provides a range of security services for companies. For more information or to get a quote for these IT security solutions, email us at or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s most extensive network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including subsea cables and secure internet connections. We offer a diverse range of flexible, scalable and high-quality solutions for businesses that meet world-class standards for connectivity.

SEACOM is privately owned and operated, making it agile and adaptable to the needs of the customer. This makes us the preferred ICT and internet connectivity partner for African businesses and peripheral service providers. We can guarantee high-speed, low-latency and secure internet connections to corporates and small enterprises.

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