The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Triad is the cornerstone of security management, applicable from the smallest business to the largest government applications. Named after the three central aspects of Information Security, the CIA Triad sets the minimum security requirements for any digital system. The three pillars are Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability, and each one is essential for keeping any company’s data safe.
Confidentiality is the primary aspect that springs to mind when discussing security. It centres around the idea that data should be accessible to those who are allowed access and it ensures that only those authorised can view data. If a company’s confidential data were lost, their clients, partners and investors would become compromised and trust in the company could be eroded. The most common methods of ensuring confidentiality involve the use of strong encryption algorithms, password authentication and two-factor authentication.
Integrity is the second pillar of the CIA Triad and it covers the idea that data should also be kept up to date and correct. Data should reflect the truth; if it is changed or altered in anyway, this could have dire consequences for a company. Methods of integrity include the use of checksums, hashing and digital signatures.
The final pillar of the CIA Triad is availability; the ability for authorised personnel to have access to the information when they need it. Ransomware or hardware failure can quickly cause denial of service – a red-alert to any organisation. Availability is how different entities are able to confirm and access data quickly without any issues. If a company relies on their data to update customers on delivery processes or stock-availability this could cause serious issues if their data is unavailable.
Data Backup and Backup Policies
The most important part of ensuring data is available is to have a secure backup. It is recommended that multiple backups are taken of sensitive material and stored in different locations. This provides a last line of defence if all else fails and helps keep a business operating. Policies should be in place to govern how often backups occur and where they are stored. This can form part of an effective availability strategy.
Prevention & Protection
One of the most important steps in keeping both confidential and available data is to keep malicious code away from it. Firewalls, whitelisting and other preventative methods should be in place but they should also be regularly monitored, updated and patched. If there is a breach, logging should be enabled and checked. This will allow IT teams to detect where, when and what data was accessed.
Risk Assessment & Auditing
Performing risk assessment exercises enables companies to identify and prioritise the risks to their data. On-going auditing allows companies to monitor any changes to their systems and data, as well as to identify weak-points. This also allows companies to act quickly if anything suspicious is detected.
Cloud Computing & Data Migration
With the rise of cloud computing, more businesses are starting to store sensitive data in the cloud. Cloud services often provide the best layer of security due the in-built encryption and authentication protocols. However, migrating data to the cloud can be tricky. Many companies struggle to keep enough control to secure the data properly, while others worry that access to the cloud can be lost or their data is not as secure as they would like it to be.
Security Protocols & Monitoring
Implementing the latest security protocols and tools is essential to maintain the CIA Triad but it’s important to understand that no system is completely secure. Security protocols will help to protect data but stay alert with monitoring processes. Employees, customers, security alerts and more should be regularly monitored to detect any threats or intrusions.
Staff Education & Training
An often underestimated but significant aspect of keeping the CIA Triad in place is educations and training staff. This is not just limited to IT staff but every employee should have some understanding of open security protocols and vulnerable data. Applying basic best practices like not writing down passwords will help improve security. Education and awareness training should be regularly performed in order to stay up to date with any changes in the world of IT security.
Document & Access Control
Documenting data assets and access control is essential for any business when protecting their valuable information. Detailed records should be kept on what data is stored and how it is distributed. Data access should also be limited to as few employees as possible, and users must be held accountable for what they access. Open and detailed documents are key to understanding how the data is trafficked in and out of the company.
In the event that something does happen, it is important to have an incident management system in place. It should outline the response strategies for various incidents, such as data breaches, ransomware, man-made errors and natural disasters. Knowing who to contact, what procedures to follow and what data to collect can help minimise the damage caused by an incident.