What is Information Assurance?

Where critical data is stored and utilized, information assurance, or IA for short, is there to maintain order. What is IA, and how and where does it work? Follow along for the basics of this relatively new but very important concept in modern data maintenance methods.

Overview

Data, information, knowledge – whatever name is used in referring to it, this material can make or break lives. In the healthcare industry, patients’ personal and medical information is kept. In the banking and finance industries, more personal information is kept on untold numbers of people. Then there are government agencies, retailers, shipping services, and plenty more – all holding precious sums of data on countless individuals.

With all of this precious data being kept and used in so many different places, the calling becomes quite clear that there is a great need for not just security, as it is commonly known, but something else in addition. Enter IA. IA is that entire measure of precaution. It is the use of a whole range of measures to maintain the sanctity and security of information.

IA is a multi-disciplined area of practice, encompassing a wide array of specialty knowledge areas. Included in IA is the use of expertise such as that of cybersecurity, computer science, disaster recovery, business continuity, user experience, privacy, auditing, and more. In short, to be able to completely assure information, whether stagnant or in motion, a wide variety of skill-sets and abilities must be employed.

The Process

How does it work? This is a great next question, with which the following might help to clear up. Essentially, a company or organization employing IA method will start by organizing all information assets of potential risk into categories. Having now organized and categorized each and every data asset of concern, the organization can then apply risk assessments, and from those, subsequently form risk management plans.

From the risk management plan then stems the entire set of parameters by which the information at hand will be handled and moved. Therein are commonly placed countermeasures and tools such as firewalls, digital and human protocols, encryption, chain of custody method, and more. The data being guarded is typically of an important nature, and as a result, the safeguards attached to it at every turn are comprehensive and take place systemically as well as individually.

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Standards, Organizations

Such an all-encompassing field as IA is sure to also have its organizational standards and convenings of colleagues. As this is a relatively new era and field of specialty, there are still few overseeing regulators or organizations with which individual operators can subscribe or professionally convene within this field. However, the Information Assurance Advisory Council, or IAAC, is that lone affiliating beacon in the industry so far. “Collaborating on cyber challenges in unique ways” is the fitting organizational motto of this pioneering organization.

IA is a fairly new area of specialization, but it is a very important one, assuring the private and sensitive information of countless people all across the globe. This article represents merely the basics of this comprehensive and quickly growing field. For more details on information assurance today, the IAAC mentioned above is a great resource with which to follow up further.