- “Cybersecurity is a set of technologies, processes, and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs, and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access” (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, 2019).
- “Cybersecurity is the process of protecting computer systems, assets, private data, networks, and programs from unauthorized access or attacks that are aimed for exploitation” (Microsoft, 2022).
- “Cybersecurity is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from attacks and theft” (Rouse, 2022).
Dimensions and principles of cyber security
Information characteristics are one of the eight dimensions of cybersecurity highlighted in the McCumbers Cube. This dimension measures the data’s quality and its access, integrity, availability, and confidentiality (Leines-Vite et al., 2021). It also looks at how the data is stored, used, and shared between different parts of the system. This dimension is essential to the overall security of a system, as it can help to identify any weaknesses in the data.
Integrity is a principal information characteristic in cybersecurity. It is the assurance that data has not been changed or destroyed unauthorized or maliciously. It requires that data is kept in its original form and is not subject to manipulation or unauthorized changes. It also ensures that any data modifications are tracked, and any unauthorized changes are detected. Without integrity, organizations cannot trust the integrity of their data and any decision made using that data.
Confidentiality is a crucial principle of information security. It involves protecting the data from unauthorized access and ensuring that only authorized individuals can access it. Confidentiality requires using secure encryption algorithms, user authentication, and access control measures to protect the data. It also involves ensuring that only authorized individuals can view the data and that no one else can access or alter the data
Availability is a sub-dimension of information characteristics that focuses on the ability of an organization to access critical systems and data when needed. Ensuring the availability of critical systems and data is essential for most business operations, as well as for the safety and security of users. Several threats can compromise the availability, such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, malware, hardware failure, and natural disasters. Availability also helps ensure continuity in an attack or disruption, as systems can be quickly recovered and returned online.
The McCumbers Cube is a three-dimensional model used to visualize the various aspects of cybersecurity with information states as one of the dimensions, which is the ability to detect and protect the state of the data or information. It is a concept that describes the various states that information can assume during its lifecycle, including processing, storage, and transmission. Each state carries a unique set of risks and opportunities for an organization, and managing information states is an integral part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. For example, an organization must consider how data is created, stored, and transferred to ensure that only authorized personnel can access it.
Processing, as a principle in information states in cybersecurity, refers to the steps taken to ensure data and information security. This includes protecting data from unauthorized access, modification, and destruction (Kahyaoglu & Caliyurt, 2018). Processing involves using various methods to encrypt, store, and secure data and information. The process also includes regularly assessing and evaluating security measures to ensure they are up-to-date and effective. By following these steps, organizations can ensure that data remains secure and is not vulnerable to outside threats.
As a principle in the Information state, storage is the process of keeping and preserving data securely and safely. Storage can include physical and electronic media, such as hard drives, USB drives, and cloud storage. Keeping data secure requires implementing security measures such as encryption, user authentication, and malware detection. Additionally, proper storage and maintenance of data, including regular backups, is necessary to ensure data is always available and secure, even in the event of a disaster.
Transmission is another critical principle of information states in cybersecurity. It refers to the process of moving information from one location to another. This can involve sending data from a server to a client or from one network to another. It can also refer to data transmission across various mediums, such as a wired or wireless connection. Ensuring the security of transmissions is a significant component of any cybersecurity strategy, as it helps to prevent malicious actors from accessing sensitive data. Transmission is essential to any cybersecurity strategy, and understanding it is vital to protecting an organization’s data.
Security countermeasures are the measures put in place to protect information systems and their data. These measures include implementing technical controls such as firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems. It also includes non-technical controls such as policies and procedures that require users to use strong passwords and follow certain security practices. They should be regularly evaluated and updated to ensure they are practical and up-to-date (Hughes-Lartey et al., 2021). The McCumbers Cube can be a valuable tool for visualizing the different aspects of cybersecurity and how security countermeasures fit into the overall picture.
Technology is one of the most important tools in the fight against cybercrime. Technology can be used to provide a layered approach to security, with each layer providing a different type of protection. Firewalls provide an initial defence against unauthorized access, while intrusion detection systems alert organizations to suspicious activity. Antivirus software helps to protect against malicious software, while encryption protects data from unauthorized access. Technology can also be used to monitor user activity and detect potential threats.
Policies and practices
Policy and practice are essential principles of security countermeasures in cybersecurity. Policies provide a framework for how the organization should address risks and threats and provide guidance on responding to incidents. They define the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and the standards that must be adhered to. Practices provide specific guidance on implementing the policies and are generally more detailed than policies. Both policies and practices must be regularly reviewed and updated to stay ahead of the latest threats and technologies.
Training and education
Training and education are fundamental principles of security countermeasures in cybersecurity. Training programs help inform users about the importance of security and provide guidance on best practices for using technology securely. Education plays a vital role in making users aware of potential threats, how to identify and respond to them, and how to protect their data and systems. Furthermore, training and education can create an organizational culture of security, where everyone is aware of the risks and understands how to protect their data and systems.
Cybersecurity protects data, networks and systems from unauthorized access, disruption, or modification. The three cybersecurity principles (integrity, availability, and confidentiality) provide system security. Integrity involves making sure data and systems remain accurate and complete. Availability ensures that authorized users have timely and reliable access to data and systems when needed. Confidentiality ensures that only authorized users have access to data. These principles are implemented through various measures such as authentication, encryption, access control, and monitoring.
Information states in cybersecurity refer to the stages of data within a system. The three primary states are storage, transmission and processing. Storing data in its original or modified form is known as storage. Transmission refers to the sending of data from one system to another. Proper transmission security measures can help prevent data from being intercepted while in transit. Data processing should be done securely to ensure the data is not modified or deleted inappropriately. These information states provide overall system security by ensuring data is appropriately stored, transmitted, and processed securely.
Security is the cornerstone of cyber security. It is the starting point for any cyber security effort, which involves the application of technology, policy and practice, and training and education to increase the security of networks, systems, and applications. Technology is used to control access to resources, prevent malicious activity, and detect and respond to intrusions. Policies and practices are used to establish roles and responsibilities, develop and document processes, and maintain compliance. Training and education ensure that employees and users understand how to use systems and applications securely. Together, these components of the cyber security discipline are vital to providing an overall security system.
Integrity is vital to cybersecurity as it ensures that data is not compromised or altered maliciously. It enables the concept of Assured Operations by ensuring the accuracy and security of the data, providing a degree of trust that the data and operations remain secure (Galiveeti et al., 2021). The principle of availability is vital to cybersecurity as it ensures that essential information and services are available when needed. This enables the concept of ‘Assured Operations’ by providing a reliable, consistent, and secure environment for critical services. Confidentiality ensures that sensitive data is kept secure and is only visible to those who need to access it, enabling organizations to protect their data and systems and ensuring that only authorized people can access it. This aspect helps to create an assured operational environment where organizations can trust that their data is safe and secure.
The principle of storage is vital to cybersecurity as it ensures that data is stored securely and access is monitored and controlled. This aspect enables the concept of ‘Assured Operations’ by providing a solid foundation for security policies, processes and procedures. The transmission principle helps form the concept of ‘Assured Operations’ by encrypting and authenticating transmitted data, ensuring that authorized individuals can only access it. The principle of processing enables the concept of ‘Assured Operations’ by ensuring the safety, integrity, and reliability of data and information within a system, making it more secure and resilient against attacks.
Technology enables the concept of ‘Assured Operations’ by providing the necessary tools and processes for promptly identifying, preventing, and responding to potential threats and risks. The principle of policy and practices establishes a framework of best practices that must be adhered to. This aspect ensures that operations remain secure and compliant with relevant laws and regulations, thus enabling the concept of ‘Assured Operations’ (Robertson et al., 2021). The principle of education and training is vital to cybersecurity because it ensures that those responsible for cybersecurity understand the risks, threats and technical aspects of the job. It enables the concept of ‘Assured Operations’ by providing the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to identify, assess, mitigate and respond to cyber security threats.
Cybersecurity is a growing concern in the digital age and is essential to protect data and information from malicious actors. Cybersecurity is a complex concept that involves three dimensions: information characteristics, information states, and security countermeasures. Information characteristics include integrity, availability, and confidentiality, which all work together to protect data. Information states include transmission, storage, and process, which govern how data is handled and protected. Security countermeasures involve using technology, policy & practices to prevent, detect, and respond to threats. Furthermore, education & training is critical to ensure individuals are aware of the risks and can adequately protect data. Cybersecurity is a complex concept that requires a multi-faceted approach to these dimensions and sub-dimensions to protect data and information.
Rouse, M. (2022, December 7). What is cybersecurity? – Definition from Techopedia. Techopedia.com. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/24747/cybersecurity#collapseMenu
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (2019, November 19). What is cybersecurity? CISA. https://www.cisa.gov/uscert/ncas/tips/ST04-001
Microsoft. (2022). What is cybersecurity? Microsoft Support. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/what-is-cybersecurity-8b6efd59-41ff-4743-87c8-0850a352a390
Leines-Vite, L., Pérez-Arriaga, J. C., & Limón, X. (2021). Information and Communication Security Mechanisms For Microservices-based Systems. arXiv preprint arXiv:2111.01218.
Kahyaoglu, S. B., & Caliyurt, K. (2018). Cyber security assurance process from the internal audit perspective. Managerial Auditing Journal.
Hughes-Lartey, K., Li, M., Botchey, F. E., & Qin, Z. (2021). Human factor, a critical weak point in the information security of an organization’s Internet of things. Heliyon, 7(3), e06522.
Robertson, J., Fossaceca, J. M., & Bennett, K. W. (2021). A cloud-based computing framework for artificial intelligence innovation in support of multidomain operations. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 69(6), 3913-3922.