“Information is a significant component of most organizations’ competitive strategy either by the direct collection, management, and interpretation of business information or the retention of information for day-to-day business processing. Some of the more obvious results of IS failures include reputational damage, placing the organization at a competitive disadvantage, and contractual noncompliance. These impacts should not be underestimated.” ― The IIA Research Foundation

Are you confused about the terms ‘information security’ and ‘cyber security’, and why some people use them interchangeably? You’re not alone, as many discussions on data protection and cyber crime overlook the nuances that define the industry.


Do the terms data security and cyber security refer to the same processes? Are they used interchangeably? Are you confused like many others? You are not alone. Many discussions on data security and cyber security focus more on the overlap rather than the distinctions that define their protocols. In this blog, we will provide a simple description of both terms and describe how they can fit into your organization.

What is data security?

Many refer to information security when they are really talking about data security.

When people discuss information security, they are typically referring to data security. This type of security is concerned with the protection of data from accidental or purposeful revisions that are also unauthorized. Data security is also designed to use physical security, logical controls, cyber security, administrative controls, and other protocols to protect your data. Some of these methods include:

Data encryption — Encoding the data so it requires a key to unlock and read.

Data masking — Masking specified areas of data, so only authorized users can view it.

Data erasure — Ensuring that obsolete data is completely removed.

Data backup — Creating multiple copies of data for data recovery if the original is lost.

“Currently, seven out of the ten highest valued global brands are data companies. Data as the new oil? Clearly. When you invest in data, its storage, its management and its analysis, you’re investing in innovation.” ― Thomas Harrer

As an asset, data is crucial to any organization. Therefore, you must protect data from cyber criminals. Unquestionably, organizations around the world are starting to make data security a priority. In terms of security, organizations are often focused on protecting three elements: People, processes, and technology. As such, these elements also serve to protect the brand, intellectual capital, critical infrastructure, customer data and more. Data security isn’t just important for businesses, but it also plays a significant role for protecting computers, tablets, and mobile devices in the remote working world. Invariably, remote devices connected to the organization’s network are often targets for cyber criminals. As such, endpoint protection is vital for securing and maintaining every device connected to the network.

There isn’t any question that data breaches and cyber attacks are on the rise, and the upward trajectory will continue. It’s imperative to have the right disaster backup and recovery services in place to address the ongoing threats.

So then, data security is primarily focused on protecting the data itself and with identity and access management. It is all about who can access or remove the data.

What is cyber security?

Cyber security involves data security, but it also describes the way an organization protects its digital networks, programs, devices, systems, servers, and other online assets. In fact, cyber security is one component of data security, but it gets the most attention due to rapidly evolving and increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. Malware, hacking, and internal errors are the leading causes of cyber breaches so it makes sense to incorporate cyber security consulting to determine how to mitigate these risks effectively.

While cyber security and physical security are not entirely separate, they do work in conjunction to ensure that devices and digital assets do not fall into the wrong hands. Cyber security also consolidates policies and various measures to protect the organization’s digital footprint.

These protocols might include password protecting the device and databases, encrypting sensitive information and implementing a kill switch to remotely wipe stolen devices. Let’s read the detailed NIST definition of cyber security:

"Prevention of damage to, protection of, and restoration of computers, electronic communications systems, electronic communications services, wire communication, and electronic communication, including information contained therein, to ensure its availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation."

Here is another description from NIST:

"The ability to protect or defend the use of cyber space from cyber attacks."

When you protect data, technologies, and storage sources from threats, you are engaging in cyber security. On the other hand, data security means protecting data from unauthorized access. In short, cyber security safeguards the cyber realm and associated data. Data security focuses on protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. Let’s look at examples.

Domain – Cyber security protects anything in the cyber space from data to technologies. Data security only protects digital and analog forms of information. Cyber security also aims to protect associated social media profiles and personal information.

Process – Cyber security aims to prevent cyber attacks. Data security protects data from any threatening scenario.

Professionals – Cyber security consulting focuses on dealing with advanced, persistent cyber threats proactively. Data security prioritizes data resources over data threats.

Protection – Cyber security addresses cyber crimes, cyber frauds, and legal implications. Data security deals with unauthorized access, modification, disruption, and any threat against data integrity.

What is the difference between cybersecurity and data safety?

To recap, data security focuses on the data itself. However, cyber security encompasses all forms of digital security including digital data and digital systems. If you’re ready to enhance your data security and cyber security protocols, contact the experts at SSI today.

Get help developing a managed cyber security or disaster backup and recovery services plan here. Or, reach out to learn more our Data Security and Cyber Security solutions.