By DeVry University
August 30, 2021
4 min read
Information security and cyber security are both trending, dynamic professions, but in many cases, the terms are used interchangeably. So, how are they different? How is each field defined? What kinds of jobs are available in each field, and what kinds of employers can you work for?
To answer these questions, read on for an overview of information security vs. cyber security, including their similarities and differences. We’ll also look at the things you should consider when deciding which path is right for you.
What Is Information Security?
As you might have guessed, information security involves protecting information. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts develop and implement security measures for a company’s computer network. They also help to guard analog information that is stored in non-network locations, such as paper files and hard drives. As an information security employee, your job duties may include the following, depending on what company you work for:
- Monitoring for security threats and assessing them when they occur
- Installing and maintaining security software
- Reporting on security breaches and any damage that they cause
- Simulating security attacks (through ethical hacking and penetration testing) to search for weaknesses in the system
- Becoming familiar with the latest best practices and implementing them throughout the company
- Recommending security upgrades to your leadership team and other decision makers
- Assisting employees with security compliance, including offering regular training and one-on-one help as needed
- Participating in disaster planning, especially as it relates to minimizing risk (such as backing up information in a secure off-site location) and planning for post-disaster systems recovery
What Is Cyber Security?
Not all information is data. Technically, information is processed data. Cyber security focuses specifically on guarding data, including personal identification, from unauthorized access and cyberattacks. It also secures technologies and resources involved in storing that data.
Cyber security experts may also perform some of the same tasks as information security experts, such as:
- Assessing and monitoring security threats
- Installing software such as data encryption programs and firewalls
- Routinely inspecting and testing hardware, software and networks to find and address potential weaknesses
- Investigating and reporting on security breaches
- Creating disaster recovery plans as related to data concerns
Virtually every type and size of business has an online presence and cyberattacks can occur anywhere, anytime. That makes cyber security professionals essential in a variety of fields, from healthcare to finance to government, cyber security professionals are needed in practically every industry.
Information Security vs. Cyber Security
Cyber security focuses on cyberspace. It involves protecting data from cyberattacks by securing not only the data itself but also the devices and networks on which they are stored and accessed. Information security focuses on both digital and analog information, with more attention paid to the information, or data itself
Although this is not necessarily true at every company, information security tends to be more broad-based, while cyber security experts tend to focus primarily on more advanced and sophisticated threats.
How Do Information Security and Cyber Security Overlap?
When comparing similar fields like information security vs. cyber security, it’s easy to see where these two paths overlap.
Both are concerned with protecting data and information from people who should not have access, and they are also largely concerned with securing networks and computer systems against attacks.
If you’re trying to figure out whether cyber security or information security is a better fit for you, take some time to research both fields and evaluate what kind of work you’d rather be doing from day to day. The fact that these two fields share so many core skills may reassure you that in whichever role you choose, it’s likely that you’ll find a career that suits your interests. The similarities between the two may even help you change your career path from information security to cyber security, or vice versa, in the future, if you choose.
Information Security vs. Cyber Security: Which is Right for Me?
How you view yourself as a future security professional can guide which direction you choose. Do you want a more generalized role that deals with multiple types of threats, while also giving you the opportunity to work with front-line employees to improve their security practices? If so, information security may be the right path for you.
Are you interested in complex problem solving and defending against advanced threats? Do you want to spend your time analyzing cyber threats and developing solutions to address them? Then cyber security may be the better option.
If you want to be on the cutting edge of security, not only assessing and addressing threats but also building the next generation of tools to combat them, you may want to consider cyber security programming.
Fortunately, no matter which specific path you choose, there is a great deal of overlap between these fields and all three can help you prepare to work in many industries.
Ready to Pursue Your Tech Goals?
At DeVry, we offer the following programs to help you pave your path in information security or cyber security:
- Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security
- Associate in Cybersecurity and Networking
- Cyber Security Bachelor's Degree Specialization
- Cyber Security Programming Bachelor's Degree Specialization
- Information Systems Security Bachelor's Degree Specialization
- Graduate Certificate in Information Security
Ready to take the next step or need help deciding which program is right for you? Contact us to learn more.