Is cybersecurity the same thing as IT security? The short answer is, “No.” While most people use the terms interchangeably, they’re not exactly the same. To make things more confusing, the duties often overlap.

In this post, we’ll explain what those differences are in more detail.

What Is IT Security?

Data security and information security are alternative terms for IT security. IT security protects all the information that an organization creates and uses. IT security encompasses both electronic data and physical data.

IT security is essential because a company doesn’t necessarily do all of its work online. The company’s paper copies of data must also be protected. IT security covers the protection of these physical data as well as electronic data.
Data security policies are put in place to prevent unauthorized access to data, as well as destruction or misuse of those data. In this case, emphasis will be placed on controlling access to both physical and electronic information. These policies will include cybersecurity measures as well.

Examples of issues these policies will control include:
● Filing hardcopies in a locked cabinet.
● The use of passwords when accessing information.
● The company’s policy on how to store backup data.
● Issues concerned with physically accessing the offices.
● Protecting hard copies and backups from fire and natural disasters.
● Ensuring that data history and integrity are intact.
● The use of storage devices.
● How and if data may be removed from the company.
● Security awareness training dealing with physical and online threats.

IT security is about more than just protecting the data from unauthorized access. It’s about ensuring that data isn’t lost or corrupted as well. The field, therefore, extends beyond the cyber realm and the world of cybercrime.

What Is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a far more focused aspect of information security. It deals specifically with the prevention of cyberattacks or unauthorized access to electronic data. Cybersecurity works on the principle that outside influence will be responsible for an information breach or the destruction of data.

More precisely, cybersecurity doesn’t deal with the safety of hardcopies or backups per se. Now, here’s where it gets a little confusing. Cybersecurity focuses on the dangers of unauthorized access.

As a result, policies related to cybersecurity might involve creating backups or hard copies of data. That’s another place where the overlap between duties comes into play. The IT security department should take over securing backups and hard copies.

Cybersecurity will cost companies $133 billion annually by 2022. It’s hardly surprising that it gets most of the attention.

The policies that this department will be in control of include:
● Antivirus protection
● Security awareness training dealing with online threats
● Password rules
● The use of third-party or personal devices to access company systems
● Cloud storage security
● Anti-phishing measures

What’s the Core Difference?

The core difference is that cybersecurity is a lot more focused on online security. Think of it this way—data security relates to all the data, from printed manuals to the company’s website. Cybersecurity doesn’t get involved in the protection of printed data, but rather looks toward protecting against bad actors.

Quick Test

What happens if a bad actor drops off a USB drive infected with malware at the branch office of a company? That’s a tricky one. The malware on the USB drive will, at some stage, transmit data back to the hacker. That said, the infection is caused by a physical item instead of through an online source.
In this case, both departments would come into play, but the primary responsibility would be laid at the data security department’s door. That department should have policies in place to prevent employees from plugging the USB drive into the system. Cybersecurity would technically only take over once the malware started to transmit the data.

Final Notes

Which department is more important? Neither—a good security strategy incorporates elements of both to provide a complete form of protection. Bad actors use several methods to get access to systems.

These include cyberattacks, certainly, but there are easier ways for them to operate. It could be as simple as picking up a file from an unattended desk or even getting a job at the organization to access information.

It’s essential to protect both the electronic data and the hard copies associated with it.