What is Information Assurance (IA)?

News of the latest security breach seems to make its way into the headlines on a monthly basis. While many Americans have heard about recent incidents at Yahoo and Arby’s, most aren’t as familiar with the professionals charged with protecting information and helping a system recover should a breach occur.i, ii Those behind-the-scenes experts work in information assurance (IA).

What is IA?

A is a discipline within the information technology (IT) industry. Pursuing a career in IA requires a background in technology and an understanding of IT principles, such as how information systems work. Those interested in protecting computer systems and networks from outside threats such as viruses, identify theft and phishing attacks may choose to specialize in IA.iii

IA is generally broken down into five sections:iii

  • Integrity: Employing tools and processes, such as anti-virus software, that prevent people from interfering with the system
  • Availability: Making sure a system can be accessed by those who are supposed to have access, but not by hackers
  • Authentication: Identifying users through tools such as passwords to make sure only the authorized individuals are allowed in
  • Confidentiality: Limiting access to confidential information to individuals who have been cleared to view it
  • Nonrepudiation: Monitoring actions with a system so someone cannot deny their activity

Demand for IA Professionals

Companies large and small, as well as government organizations, rely on computers to run, so it’s no wonder demand for IA professionals continues to grow.iv IA specialists are needed at retail companies to protect customer data, at large corporations to protect sensitive trading information and within government agencies to protect classified materials. The military, for instance, employs IA specialists to ensure sensitive information is only available to individuals who have been granted clearance.v

How to Begin a Career in IA

Many people interested in a career in IA first earn a bachelor’s degree, usually in information systems, computer science or management information systems. From there, they may pursue a master’s degree through programs such as Regis University’s College of Computer and Information Sciences’ online Master of Science in Information Assurance. A master’s degree prepares students for a career in IA and also prepares them to earn further certifications based on what they’re interested in. They can become a certified ISO (information security officer) specialist or a certified intrusion analyst, for instance.vi

Interested in learning more about Regis University’s M.S. in Information Assurance? Click here to download a brochure or call 877-820-0581. The program is offered online, so you can work toward your degree wherever and whenever it is convenient for you.