Before we get into understanding what CIA means, it is first important to get familiar with the concept of Cybersecurity. So, What is Cybersecurity? It basically refers to a set of techniques which are used to protect the Integrity of networks, programs, and data from an attack, damage or any unauthorized access. Cybersecurity came into existence because of the development of some deleterious viruses that pose a great threat to the security of an individual and an even bigger threat to large international companies, banks, and governments. The core functionality of Cybersecurity involves the protection of your information from Cyberthreats like application attacks, malware, ransomware, phishing, exploit kits etc.
If we look from a computing point of view, security comprises of Cybersecurity and Physical Security. Both of them are used by enterprises to shield against any unauthorized access to data centers and other computerized systems. When we talk about Cybersecurity, there are three main aspects we are trying to protect ourselves from:
- Unauthorized Access
- Unauthorized Deletion
- Unauthorized Modification
These three terms are synonymous with the CIA triad which stands for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. The CIA triad basically provides the three pillars of security on which most of the security policies are built. It can be defined as a security benchmark model that is used to guide organizations to form their security policies based on the three keys – Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability.
All these principles have distinct requirements and processes to assure the safety of each.
So, let us go ahead and explore these principles individually to get an understanding of their respective process:
It is the security principle that controls the access to your information, in order to ensure that wrong person (hackers/criminals) cannot access any sensitive information. Access to the information is only restricted to authorized people.
Your data can be categorized according to the severity of damage that could happen if unfortunately, it falls into unauthorized hands. And according to these categories of data, stern measures can then be implemented for its protection.
Protecting Confidentiality may include special training for those who share sensitive data for teaching them how to guard vulnerable data assets. In addition to this, strong passwords and password-related best practices can also be used to ensure the same.
Data Encryption is one of the techniques used to ensure Confidentiality, wherein the data can be encrypted for protection while it is being transferred from one machine to another. Some other techniques are Biometric Verification, Cryptography, Security Tokens, and Digital Certificates. Also, users should be cautious to reduce the number of places where the information appears and where sensitive data is being transmitted.
Integrity is the second component of the triad, which assures that sensitive data is trustworthy and accurate. Accuracy and trustworthiness of data have to be maintained throughout its life cycle. Sensitive data should never be altered during transit, and security measures like file permissions and user access controls should be implemented to make sure that it cannot be modified by any unauthorized user.
In addition, version control can be used to prevent unintentional modifications and deletions from authorized users become a problem.
To ensure Integrity, sensitive data should include cryptographic checksums. Backups or redundancy plans can also be implemented to restore any affected data in case of an Integrity failure.
Availability gives the assurance of reliable and constant access to data by authorized people by maintaining all the necessary hardware and software. Methods like Redundancy, RAID, and clustering can be adapted to avoid serious Availability problems. To prevent downtime due to attacks like denial-of-service and network intrusions, extra software and security equipment should be used. Also, a quick and adaptive recovery plan is crucial for worst-case scenarios.
Basically, the standard measures to ensure Availability are backing up data to external drives, implementing firewalls, having backup power supplies and data redundancy.
All these three principles of the triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability) play an important role in Cybersecurity and they have to work together to keep your information secure because Cyber attacks have the potential to threaten one or more of these three principles. Hence, we can say that the CIA triad provides the foundation for creating a holistic security plan to protect all of your organization’s critical and sensitive data assets. And it is of utmost importance in Cybersecurity because Cyber threats are becoming more advanced, and seemingly having greater success at hitting their targets. Hence, it’s time for the industry to approach information security with a CIA mindset.