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What is Information Assurance?

Advances in technology have resulted in a whirlwind of innovations that benefit both businesses and consumers. Unfortunately, it’s also created opportunities for people to steal information and use it to enrich themselves.

That, in turn, has led to growth in fields associated with protecting digital information and blocking the many kinds of attacks used by hackers.

Cybersecurity often gets mentioned often when it comes to defending against hackers. However, the field of information assurance also plays a vital role in keeping information safe.

Those who work in information assurance may be ethical hackers or have professional training in protecting computer and network systems. They will be familiar with both the “white hat” and “black hat” methods of accessing computer files.

Five Areas of Information Assurance

Information assurance involves protecting information systems from attack. There are five main areas involved in information assurance, according to Techopedia: integrity, availability, authentication, confidentiality and nonrepudiation.

  • Integrity. Keeping data and digital information safe from hackers requires working with IT to install the proper kind of anti-virus software, as well as developing rules for using the system to reduce the chances of opening the door to a malicious attack.
  • Availability. People across an organization need access to data at any given time. Information assurance makes sure that the data is available for who needs it when they need it, while also maintaining its integrity.
  • Authentication. These are the methods used to ensure a user is who they say they are, usually determined by user names, passwords, tokens, etc.
  • Confidentiality. Only those who are authorized to access certain kinds of information can see it.
  • Nonrepudiation. Anyone who accesses a system cannot deny they did so because information assurance experts have made sure there is a record of all activities.

Other duties include monitoring systems for unusual activity, acting quickly to patch any damage done if a system is hacked, and making recommendations to management on needed security upgrades.

Information Assurance vs. Cybersecurity

If all of this sounds a lot like a job in cybersecurity, that’s because it is closely related. However, there are differences.

While the focus of cybersecurity is on predicting and defending against hacking attacks, information assurance focuses more on setting up rules and regulations for how systems are used, with the emphasis on reducing vulnerabilities to cyberattacks.

That requires developing such rules and sharing with anyone who uses the system. While someone in information assurance will learn similar skills as someone working in cybersecurity, the focus is different.

Careers in Information Assurance

Specific job titles in information assurance vary depending on industry and job duties. They may be listed as security analyst, IT quality assurance, principal information assurance analyst and a host of other titles.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the occupation as information security analyst. The federal agency projects a 28% increase in the number of positions through 2026. The BLS reports an average annual salary of $99,690 as of May 2017. Salaries can range depending on education, location, industry and market conditions, so it’s advisable to research jobs in your area.

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