Information Security, Cybersecurity, Network Security: What’s The Difference

The recent string of global ransomware attacks, the Equifax data breach, and the constant barrage of phishing campaigns have shocked many Australian businesses into being more proactive with their security efforts.

However, one problem most business owners encounter before starting to develop their security programme is making sense of all the technical jargon. Sure, words like “malware” and “firewall” are simple enough to understand, but what about ambiguous concepts like information, network, and cybersecurity?

For many, these terms seem like they can be used as interchangeably as ‘soccer and football’ or ‘prawns and shrimp,’ but there are some notable differences in how they are defined and applied.

Information security

Information security, or InfoSec, is concerned with protecting all forms of data from unauthorised access, modification, or destruction.

Unlike network security and cybersecurity, which focus on protecting data that resides in servers, workstations, or in the cloud, InfoSec practitioners safeguard everything, including physical documents and private communications.

InfoSec frameworks are centered around three core objectives: maximising the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of business data. This is best achieved by using the following security measures:

  • Access management – allows you to grant authorised users and devices the right to access certain applications and data; while preventing outsiders from stealing company secrets.
  • Locks and surveillance systems – deters unauthorised parties from breaking into your office, server rooms, and filing cabinets.
  • Data encryption – encodes files to prevent hackers from reading or modifying them.
  • Employee policies – discourage your staff from leaking company information.
  • Cloud backup – keeps clean copies of your data in fault-tolerant data centres in case on-premises server rooms and files are compromised.
  • Network optimisation – guarantees that cloud data can be accessed by authorised parties when requested.


Although there’s a big overlap between InfoSec and cybersecurity; the latter generally refers to the practice of protecting digital data and computer networks from unauthorised access. The two threats to cybersecurity are network-based attacks and social engineering scams.

Social engineering is a technique used by hackers to manipulate people into willfully giving up sensitive information or downloading dangerous software. To up their success rates, scam artists usually masquerade as bank tellers or business executives. The worst part is, there’s little-to-no coding required to perform a con; hackers only need to research their target on social media and deliver a convincing lie.

While some of the craftiest scams in recent months have involved phishing emails, hackers use plenty of other tricks, too. Even something as simple as leaving a USB drive unattended in a well-lit room is enough to entice a person to plug it into their computer and unknowingly install a host of malware applications.

As social engineering exploits human vulnerabilities, no amount of security software can completely protect you and your employees. Instead, you should conduct monthly security awareness training sessions to encourage safe computer habits and ensure your ‘human firewalls’ are up to date with the latest scams.

Network Security

Network security is a subset of cybersecurity, and is probably the area most people are familiar with. It focuses on defending IT infrastructures against malware, denial-of-service attacks, and network intrusions.

There are many components to a network security system, which often include antivirus software, intrusion prevention systems, and firewalls. Some providers go a step further by adding multiple layers of protection such as URL filtering, VPNs, and email security software; to fend off attacks from every direction.

When choosing your provider, make sure they offer network monitoring and ongoing security management services. This helps you proactively mitigate threats before they turn into downtime-inducing disasters.

Why does it matter?

Taking the time to understand the differences between each area of security can save your business in the long run. For instance, a partner that focuses solely on network security; leaves other areas of your business exposed to social engineering, office break-ins, and internal data leaks.

To prepare for any security risk, you must consider all available solutions; and be willing to find a partner that makes all forms of security work together.

Having worked in the IT industry for several years, we understand the repercussions of a security breach. When sensitive data falls into the wrong hands; you lose thousands of dollars in legal penalties, data recovery efforts, and loss of customer trust.

Our high-end security services prevent this from happening. We provide safeguards for your entire system and help you maintain data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Call Empower IT today to develop a bulletproof security programme.