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Is Information Assurance the Same as Information Security?

Information assurance is a rapidly growing industry, as businesses and organizations are prioritizing data protection. Cybersecurity Ventures, an industry research group, projects global spending on security to eclipse $1 trillion over the next five years. *

With all of that spending, job growth in the industry is expected to increase by 18 percent through 2024. **

Despite the growth and importance of the industry, some people may be unaware of its nuances. The terms information assurance and information security are often confused. While the two areas have some similarities, they are distinct.

Information assurance is a broader field that specifies the ways to manage and protect information. It deals with assessing the overall risk to an organization's technology and works to mitigate that risk.

Information security is a subset of information assurance. It is a technical discipline that focuses on the development and deployment of security applications and infrastructures, such as anti-virus programs, encryption services and firewalls.

In a nutshell, information assurance is defense-focused, assessing risks and vulnerabilities and developing a management plan to protect data. Information security is a threat-focused specialization that defends computers and networks against cyberattacks.

Understanding Information Assurance

At its core, information assurance covers a broad spectrum of information management and protection. While information security is more of a technical specialty, information assurance deals with larger concepts of strategy, law, policy, risk management and training.

It looks at security from a wider perspective and often involves system auditing, business continuity planning, compliance and disaster recovery planning. Though technical aptitude plays a large role in information assurance, professionals with this specialty deal with higher-level concepts.

Information assurance professionals have more responsibilities than those focused on information security. Some key duties include:

  • Auditing current and future systems and implementing proper security strategy
  • Developing a management plan to minimize risks
  • Defining backup policies and monitoring backups for completion and viability
  • Supervising IT projects and security implementation
  • Documenting security best practices based on business and user requirement

Understanding Information Security

For people who are not as interested in dealing with policy and risk management, but would rather focus on the techniques and tools to defend information and systems, information security may be the career path for them.

This field deals with preventing and defending against attacks and the unauthorized use of systems and data. It’s a highly technical profession that involves protecting against threats such as phishing, malware and ransomware.

Though information security professionals should have information assurance knowledge, their responsibilities are technology-based. Duties could include:

  • Installing firewalls, data encryption and other security measures
  • Performing penetration testing and vulnerability analysis of systems
  • Recognizing problems and identifying abnormalities
  • Conducting forensics and incident response

What It Takes to Get Into the Industry

Both information assurance and information security are critical to protecting information and systems and each field requires a thorough knowledge of security and technology.

Jobs in these fields often require a Bachelor’s degree accompanied with years of experience, as well as various industry certifications. But a Master’s in Information Assurance degree can give you an edge over the competition and prepare you for the top industry certifications.

For example, Regis University’s College of Computer and Information Sciences offers a Master’s that gives professionals the flexibility to study online or in-person. The degree program includes specializations in Information Assurance Policy Management and Cybersecurity, so professionals can get specific training in the career path they choose.

The Information Assurance Policy Management specialization offers courses on implementing enterprise and architecture security, risk management and auditing, while the Cybersecurity specialization provides training in computer forensics, database security and malware analysis and response.

Both professions have positive job growth projections and the average information assurance professional makes slightly more (national average: $76,969) *** than an information security professional (national average: $70,309). ****

Choose the Career Path for You

There are many similarities between information assurance and information security, but there are some clear differences. Whether a person wants to deal with the policy and management side of security (information assurance) or the more technical and hands-on aspect (information security), each career offers strong career growth and opportunities.

If you’re looking to advance your career in information assurance, a Master’s degree is a great way to get ahead. Regis University offers a Master’s in Information Assurance degree that equips you for this interesting industry. Request more information or call 877.820.0581 to speak to an admission counselor.

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Sources

* http://cybersecurityventures.com/cybersecurity-market-report/

** http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-6

*** https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/information-assurance-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,29.htm

**** https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/information-security-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,28.htm