Information security becomes more and more important as we today have a lot of information that is valuable for us. But do you know what information security really is about and why every organisation needs to start working with it? Read more about this and download our guide on how to start working with information security.
Valuable information needs to be protected
Information is a basic building block in an organisation, in the same way as employees, premises and equipment. Information expresses knowledge or message in a concrete form. We can communicate information, we can store it, we can refine it and we can control processes with it - we simply need it for most of what we do.
Therefore, information is valuable and needs to be protected based on the needs. Information can be valuable both for organisations and for the individual, sometimes it is even vital. If such information is lost or incorrect, it can have catastrophic consequences.
We need to protect our information so that:
- it is always available when we need it (availability)
- we can trust that it is correct and not manipulated or destroyed (integrity)
- only authorised persons may take part in it (confidentiality)
Note that even a system, for example an industrial control system, if classified as a protected asset should be protected in this way. In that case, it is not information you protect but the system itself.
Read more about how you can protect your digital information!
What does information security mean?
Information security is above all about preventing information from being leaked, distorted and destroyed. It is also about having the right information available to the right people, and at the right time. Information should not fall into the wrong hands and be misused. Information security applies to both individuals and organisations, both in business and in public activities. Information security therefore covers the whole of society.
Cybersecurity vs information security
Is there really a difference between cybersecurity and information security? One of the main reasons for these two terms to be used interchangeably is that both cybersecurity and information security are related to security and safekeeping a computer system against data threats and information breaches.
But while cybersecurity is about protecting networks, devices, programs, and data from attacks or unauthorised access, information security is above all about preventing information from being leaked, distorted, and destroyed. Information security is also about all data, no matter its form. This means that in information security, the primary concern is protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data. In cybersecurity, the primary concern is protecting against unauthorised electronic access to the data.
Read more about cybersecurity!
Information security protects your assets
The increasing dependence on information technology means increased risks - there is a clear increase in incidents such as data breaches, fraud, and the spread of malicious code. The actors behind it consist of individuals but also in the form of organised crime, terrorists, and government.
To protect yourself and your assets, you need to work with information security.
What can lack of information security lead to?
Lack of information security can have consequences in the form of the business not being able to be conducted in an appropriate and efficient manner, lack of protection of personal integrity and disruptions in socially important activities.
Deficiencies in information systems can also affect physical assets. Damage to the critical infrastructure can have fatal consequences. Incidents that lead to the inability or destruction of such systems and assets can lead to serious crises affecting the financial systems, public health, national security, or combinations thereof.
It can also lead to a deterioration in confidence in services and underlying actors. Serious and repeated disruptions can lead to crises of confidence, which can also spread to more actors and services as well as to other sectors.
In short - lack of information security has consequences that are too high to be neglected.
Systematic information security work - what is it?
All organisations and companies live and operate in an environment where they are exposed to different types of risks in different areas. Financial risks, process-related risks, technology-related risks, personnel-related risks, and legal risks are all examples of risks that many organisations work with on a daily basis.The work with information security shall, in the same way as other risk management, strive to identify and manage the risks to which it is exposed in the area of information security.
Through systematic work with information security, organisations can increase the quality and confidence in their operations. Starting from established standards in the work with information security increases the chance of success.
The work with information security includes introducing and managing administrative regulations such as policies and guidelines, technical protection with, among other things, firewalls, and encryption, as well as physical protection with, for example, shell and fire protection. It is about taking a holistic approach and creating a functioning long-term way of working to give the organisation's information the protection it needs.
Who needs cybersecurity?
The simplest and perhaps obvious answer is that all organisations have sensitive data that is vulnerable to cyberattacks. That is why it’s critical for everyone to employ steps to improve their posture and reduce their risk. Some critical sectors are in the limelight more frequently when it comes to cybersecurity, and for good reason:
Government and Critical Infrastructure
Cybersecurity is crucial for governments and other organisations that directly affect the nation’s – or world’s – wellbeing and safety.
Critical Infrastructure have many national security and safety implications. Cyberattacks to critical infrastructure sectors can be catastrophic, causing physical harm or severe disruption in services.
Companies under compliance and regulations
Many organisations operate under government or industry regulations that include a cybersecurity component. These standards ensure that companies take precautions to protect consumers’ data, and even sensitive government and military data, from cybersecurity threats.
Municipalities and county councils
Today, municipalities and county councils are required to work consistently with information security. In a municipality, highly sensitive digital information is handled – private information that no unauthorised person should be able to see. A ransomware attack can change this in a second - with the result that citizens' integrity and privacy are no longer secure. In order not to be harmed by attacks, municipalities must work with information security in a consistent and structured way.
Business to Business (B2B)
If your business is considered a small to medium enterprise, you may have larger clients starting to perform third party risk assessments on their vendors (which includes you). This means they start requiring that all their vendors meet certain levels of cybersecurity. This is becoming best practice as larger organisations are working hard to protect themselves, knowing smaller organisations are at risk and can serve as the conduit for attackers into the larger organisations.
Regulations that require companies to work with cybersecurity
During the recent years many new regulations, like the NIS Directive and stricter national security legislation have been implemented.
The NIS Directive aims to promote security measures and boost EU member states’ level of protection of critical infrastructure. In other words, it improves information security of operators in sectors that provide essential services to our society and economy.
The Swedish Protective Security Act clarifies the obligations for companies with security-sensitive activities and the importance of the operators performing security protection analyses for their operations.
In 2020 the new EU guidelines regarding cybersecurity for banks came into force. Now it is clearer how various financial services are to manage internal and external risks linked to IT and security.
And there is now also a proposal for mandatory adjustments in Livsmedelsverket’s regulations on information security for socially important services. This proposal primarily concerns municipal administrations, companies and administrations that own a public water supply system and thus provide public drinking water.
How do you start working with information security?
New laws have been passed to increase preparedness. These require that organisations delivering services essential to society increase their information security. However, it is not always easy to know where to begin. Here are eight pieces of advice to get you on the right track.
Realise that information security means more than technology
Today, a great deal of information is managed in IT systems, often making information security equivalent to IT security. But, people and processes have to be included, and all parts are equally important to succeed. Systematic and continuous work based on assets, threats and risks is vital for creating sustainable protection.
Information security work has to be linked to your organisation´s risk management
All security work has to be based on how risks are managed in the environment where you operate. Information security-related risks have to be treated the same way as other risks.
Ensure that management takes its responsibility
The responsibility for security work always lies with management, as only management can decide not to do something about security risks. Given how the rate of cyberattacks are accelerating, a decision not to invest in information security means that both the organisation and its management take a huge financial risk.
Review procedures and processes
Information security encompasses the entire organisation´s operations and all information, regardless if it is in computers or on a piece of paper. Start mapping out routines and processes, who has access to information and systems, and the state of your security thinking.
Ensure the right resources
Information security work must be conducted systematically and continuously to ensure an adequate level of information security in an organisation. For successful information security work, you have to have management´s commitment and the right resources.
Start with an analysis
Systematic information security work should always be adapted to the specific circumstances of an organisation. A recommendation is to start with an analysis of both the outside world and your operations. Based on the results, it is also possible to decide which security measures have to be implemented.
Develop a security policy (this helps you to maintain information security)
Regulatory documents such as a security policy are the formal framework for your information security work. In these, you have to specify what should be available, what should be done, as well as how it should be done.
Get help from those with in-depth information security knowledge
Getting started with systematic information security work on your own can feel a little overwhelming. If possible, get help from those with extensive knowledge about information security.
Learn more about the steps on how to get started with information security work - download our guide!
Do you need help with your information security work? We can help you!