Integrity in cyber security is one of the key components of the CIA triad of confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Every security control and vulnerability can be viewed in relation to one or more of the three concepts. In order for a security program to be deemed comprehensive and complete, it must address all three components of the CIA triad. More on CIA triad in our blog.
The CIA triad is considered the core underpinning of information security and is used as a guide for organisations all around the world. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at integrity in cyber security and delve deeper into the CIA triad of confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
What is integrity in cyber security?
Integrity in cyber security refers to the methods of ensuring that data is accurate, real, and safeguarded from unauthorised user modification or destruction. Data integrity also refers to the accuracy and validity of data over its entire lifecycle. After all, compromised data is of little or no interest to organisations of any size, not to mention the added risks that come with sensitive data loss.
An integrity in cyber security example can include when information comprises data that is transmitted between systems and/or when stored on systems, such as email. Therefore, maintaining data integrity is a key part of most enterprise security solutions today. This principle will be further explored later on within this article. Read on to find out more.
Why is integrity important in cybersecurity?
Maintaining integrity is not only important to control access at a system level, but also to ensure that users can only alter information that they are authorised to alter. When looking at the best ways to protect your sensitive data, integrity in cyber security is the key step to ensuring that your organisation secures its assets.
Data integrity is extremely important in cybersecurity because it outlines three main goals that should be adhered to by cybersecurity teams:
- Preventing unauthorised users from making modifications to programs or data.
- Preventing authorised users from making unauthorised or improper modifications.
- Maintaining both the internal and external consistency of programs and data.
What is the CIA triad?
According to the Centre for Internet Security, the CIA triad of confidentiality, integrity, and availability is a benchmark model in information security designed to govern and evaluate how an organisation handles data when it is stored, transmitted, or processed. Each attribute of the triad represents a critical component of information security:
Maintaining confidentiality within your organisation helps achieve a number of important goals, including ensuring privacy, avoiding ransomware attacks and more. Data should not be accessed or read without authorisation. It ensures that only authorised parties have access. Attacks against confidentiality are disclosure attacks.
Integrity in cyber security means data is complete, trustworthy and has not been modified or accidentally altered by an unauthorised user. The integrity of data can be compromised unintentionally by errors in entering data, a system malfunction, or forgetting to maintain an up-to-date backup. Therefore, data should not be modified or compromised in anyway. Integrity assumes that data remains in its intended state and can only be edited by authorised parties. Attacks against integrity are alteration attacks.
Availability allows data to be accessible when you need it. Availability of data is crucial to the daily operations of any business, organisation, or entity. Data should be accessible upon legitimate request. It ensures that authorised parties have unimpeded access to data when required. Attacks against availability are destruction attacks.
Examples of attacks on data integrity
Attacks on data integrity can happen in many different guises. One of the most infamous cases occurred in 2013 when the twitter handle of the Associated Press was hacked and a fake news story was leaked about explosions at the White House and the president at the time, Barack Obama was reportedly injured. The reports were false. Following the tweet, the news spread like wildfire and within seconds the Dow Jones Index slumped by 150 points.
Data integrity attacks like these only demonstrate that the integrity of data can be easily compromised in a number of ways to not only damage an economy, but to cause harm to organisations and governments. However, it’s not just high profile and public targets that can become a victim of data integrity attacks. An attack at a personal level can also be highly beneficial for hackers. Instead of stealing credit card credentials, the malicious actor can access a bank database and manipulate the electronic routing process to steal money and/or data to use in their favour.
How to maintain integrity in cybersecurity?
Maintaining data integrity has become a key part of information security to organisations all around the world. A range of tactical steps must be put in place to minimise the risks that could lead to your organisation’s data becoming compromised. Although it is almost impossible to completely eliminate all risks, there are various tools and strategies that can be applied to minimise risk and bolster security.
Let’s take a closer look at the top three:
Need to know access
To protect your company’s data from falling into the wrong hands, it’s important for cybersecurity teams to determine what users have access and why these users need access to certain data and systems. The decision process for deciding which users can gain access to data and systems must be based on the need-to-know access principle, which ensures that access is only necessary so that the user can adequately conduct their work responsibilities.
Separation of duties
Separation of duties should be applied to ensure that no one user can be given enough privileges to be able to misuse a system on their own. For example, an employee tasked with authorising monthly salary payments should not be the same person who pays them out.
Rotation of duties
Rotation of duties is more than simply about moving workers around. It is more about rotating duties in order to maintain enterprise security. Rotation of duties is based on the security concept of separation of duties mentioned above, and upon the need-to-know access principle of limiting access and privilege.
How RiskXchange can help you maintain integrity
RiskXchange can help businesses of all sizes maintain integrity in cyber security by applying cybersecurity best practices and sets of rules throughout the entire data lifecycle. By segregating networks in any system, we not only stop attacks in their tracks but bolster cybersecurity measures at the same time.
RiskXchange’s integrated cybersecurity risk platform helps you discover, continuously monitor, and reduce the risk across your enterprise and supply chain. Using the best security suites in all devices will act as a shield from integrity attacks and help you maintain integrity at all times. To detect and prevent data integrity attacks, network security tools with artificial intelligence must be considered to block suspicious moves.
RiskXchange is the only platform that provides a complete 360-degree view of your attack surface, including that of your vendors. It will continuously monitor your complete attack surface, highlight any risk, and enable you to fix any issues before the attacker discovers them.
Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about integrity in cyber security and the best ways to bolster your cybersecurity measures.