Home > Articles > Other IT Certifications > CISM

Understanding The Security Triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability)

  • Print
  • + Share This
Most IT security practices are focused on protecting systems from loss of confidentiality, loss of integrity, and loss of availability. These three together are referred to as the security triad, the CIA triad, and the AIC triad. This article provides an overview of common means to protect against loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

Most IT security practices are focused on protecting systems from loss of confidentiality, loss of integrity, and loss of availability. These three together are referred to as the security triad, the CIA triad, and the AIC triad.

If a system suffers loss of confidentiality, then data has been disclosed to unauthorized individuals. This could be high level secret or proprietary data, or simply data that someone wasn’t authorized to see. For example, if an unauthorized employee is able to view payroll data, this is a loss of confidentiality. Similarly, if an attacker is able to access a customer database including names and credit card information, this is also a loss of confidentiality.

Loss of integrity means that data or an IT system has been modified or destroyed by an unauthorized entity. This could be the modification of a file, or the change in the configuration to a system. For example, if a file is infected with a virus, the file has lost integrity. Similarly, if a message within an email is modified in transit, the email has lost integrity.

Availability ensures that data and systems are up and operational when they are needed. Or said another way, loss of availability indicates that either data or a system is not available when needed by a user. For example, if a Web server is not operational when a customer wants to purchase a product, the Web server has suffered a loss of availability.

Certifications that include the Security Triad

If you’re planning on taking the CompTIA Security+ exam, the (ISC)2 SSCP exam, or the (ISC)2 CISSP exam, you should understand what these terms mean and how they relate to IT security. Each of these exams may include topics on the security triad from these objectives:

  • CompTIA Security+ (SY0-201)
    • 5.1 Explain general cryptography concepts: Confidentiality, Integrity and availability
  • CompTIA Security+ (SY0-301)
    • 2.9 Exemplify the concepts of confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA)
  • (ISC)2 SSCP Confidentiality, integrity, or availability are mentioned in each of the seven SSCP domains.
  • (ISC)2 CISSP Confidentiality, integrity, or availability are mentioned in each of the following CISSP domains.
    • Application Development Security
    • Cryptography
    • Information Security Governance and Risk Management
    • Security Architecture and Design
    • Telecommunications and Network Security

Protecting Against Loss of Confidentiality

Organizations protect against loss of confidentiality with access controls and encryption. For example, users are first required to authenticate and then access is granted to users based on their proven identity. In short, users are granted access to data via permissions. If users do not have permissions, they are denied access.

However, there are many other instances where someone can access data without needing to prove their identity. For example, any data sent over the wire can be captured with a sniffer. Additionally, any data at rest such as on a hard disk drive, or a portable USB flash drive, could be stolen and easily accessed. You can protect this data from loss of confidentiality with encryption.

Encryption converts plain text data into ciphered data. Ciphered data can’t be read (at least not easily) if received or intercepted by unauthorized individuals. It’s estimated that it’ll take hundreds of years for an attacker to crack many of the strong encryption methods in use today. In contrast, weak encryption methods (like WEP used with older wireless networks) can be cracked in seconds with the right software.

Many types of encryption algorithms are popular today. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a fast, efficient algorithm that is commonly used to encrypt data at rest. Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) can encrypt entire hard drives which is especially useful for portable computers. S/MIME is used to encrypt (and digitally sign) email. Many other protocols such as SSL, TLS, IPsec, and others encrypt data sent over the wire either over the Internet or on internal networks.

Protecting Against Loss of Integrity

One of the common ways of ensuring integrity is with hashing. In short, a hash is a number and a hashing algorithm can calculate a hash for a file or string of data. As long as the data has not changed (and the same hashing algorithm is used), the hash will always be the same. The two primary hashing algorithms used today are Message Digest 5 (MD5) and Secure Hashing Algorithm 1 (SHA-1).

As an example, if you calculate the hash of the phrase “ILoveSecurity” with the MD5 hashing algorithm it will always be E7F8B292F4F5C2F98E5DF1435EB73D1B. However, if the phrase is slightly modified to “ILiveSecurity” (the “o” is change to an “i”) the hash is 2F088A01343CFD65B7BC4EB050503CB7. By comparing the two hashes and seeing that they are different, you know that the original data created by each of the two hashes are different.

One way hashes are used is by detection systems that calculate hashes of key files. The detection systems later check these files to determine if the hash is the same. If the hash has been modified, the file has lost integrity and is considered suspect. Similarly, users can send messages with a digital signature. The hash is calculated before the message is sent and the hash is sent with the message. The hash is calculated again when the message is received and compared to the original hash. If the hashes are different, the message has lost integrity. Even though a digital signature has a primary goal of providing authentication and non-repudiation, it still protects against loss of integrity.

Protecting Against Loss of Availability

Primary methods that organizations use to protect against loss of availability are fault tolerant systems, redundancies, and backups. Fault tolerance means that a system can develop a fault, yet tolerate it and continue to operate. This is often accomplished with redundant systems such as redundant drives or redundant servers. Backups ensure that that important data is backed up and can be restored if the original data becomes corrupt.

Fault tolerance and redundancies can be implemented at multiple levels. For example, RAID-1 is a mirror of two drives; if one drive fails, the other drive still holds all the data. RAID-5 (striping with parity) uses three or more drives and uses parity to recreate the data if any drive fails. RAID-10 combines the features of a RAID-1 with the features of a RAID-0 array.

You can add redundancies for servers by configuring them in a failover cluster. Failover clusters include two or more nodes (servers within the cluster) and if any node fails, other nodes can take over. This happens automatically with very little impact on end users.

Alternate sites can be used if a disaster takes down an entire location. A hot site is up and operational with all the equipment and data needed to take over at a moment’s notice. A cold site is an empty building with electricity and running water but needs equipment and data to be moved to the alternate location before it can be used. Hot sites are very expensive, and cold sites can take a long time to become operational. A warm site strikes a balance between a cold site and a hot site.

Conclusion

If you’re preparing for a security based certification exam, you should have a good understanding of confidentiality, integrity, and availability. You should also know the basic methods used to prevent and detect losses in any of these areas. Good luck!

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Pearson IT Certification Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Pearson IT Certification and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Pearson IT Certification products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.pearsonitcertification.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020