What is the CIA triad?
When anyone mentions the CIA, we have an image generated impulsively of a spy who might be a member of a government body typically known as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and they might have a mission to hack into some criminal's life and get them to the house of justice. However, in the field of information security, the CIA stands for confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The CIA triad forms the basis of a security system in a business.
This model is often recognized as AIC to avoid confusion with the Central Intelligence Agency. Although the CIA triad is the foundation for security in any organization, however, experts suspect that they are not enough for the modern epoch. The CIA Triad is primarily a set of guidelines or policies that an organization follows to keep its data and networks secure. Let's understand confidentiality, integrity, and availability a little better:
When data is kept safe or secret, it becomes confidential. It is an attempt by an individual or an organization to limit or control the flow or access of information. Confidentiality is maintained by restricting unauthorized people's access to information and limiting it to only those who are directly involved in the change of behavior of the particular data. For example: Consider the accounts division of an organization. They have all the sensitive information about how and what cash flows are inside and outside of the organization.
This information should be inside the accounts department itself and should not be passed to other divisions as they have no business in this area. This is how a company maintains confidentiality. So, how can confidentiality be compromised? The hacker or attacker may perform a Man In -the-Middle attack or MITM to gain access. How can this be avoided? The first way is by maintaining access control, which is confidentiality itself. Data encryption is also helpful, and similarly, two-factor authentication is one of the ways that can help maintain confidentiality in an organization.
Integrity means assuring that the data or information provided by an individual or a company is palpable and tamper-free. When a piece of genuine data is not falsified by a third person or maybe innocently put wrong by the person entering it, the integrity of the input is compromised. Integrity can be achieved by adopting the following measures:
- Digital Certificates
- Digital Signature
- Version control
- Access control
- Strong authentication mechanisms
Consider signing a document or data to be sent through a digital signature with a secure hashing algorithm. The key should be with the just the receiver and sender. When the hashed data is sent to the receiver only, he can access and control the information inside it. This is because if the data was found by an attacker while sending, the attacker may not be able to read it as it is hashed and the key is with the intended receiver and sender only.
There can be two facets to this principle. One is the availability of data even when the hardest of disasters are faced by the organization. The second is limiting the time to access the data by a second person. Here, we are going to look at both aspects:
Availability of data at all times: Sometimes the organization could face a problem like a server failure or hardware failure in which the data stored on it could get compromised, corrupted or destroyed. Some unforeseen circumstance, such as a natural disaster like an earthquake or cyclone could occur, and the company could lose all its assets, including data. Availability of data during such failures or disasters is necessary, and this is to maintain access at all times.
Availability of data for a certain period of time: Say a company needs a third-party service for a project they have been working on. The third party should have access to the information only for the particular development phase. This means making data available for a certain period in order to ensure that the third party is in no control of it once the project is completed.
The most common type of attack that can compromise availability is DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service Attack. This can be avoided by following the below-mentioned measures:
- Redundancy of data
- Hardware Fault Tolerance
- System Updates
- System Upgrades
- Disaster recovery plans
- DoS protection solutions
Why Should You Use the CIA triad?
To bag it all up, we can say the CIA model brings us simplicity, balance, and an open-ended system in an organization. The CIA is the simplest model that can be used by any organization from a startup to a corporate-level company to check on their security level. Unlike some models, they are not much complicated and hard to implement. Most models focus on security alone, while this model further centers on availability. As this model has no fixed goal apart from safety, it is more practical as the company grows.
Special Challenges for the CIA triad
Though there are many benefits to using the CIA model in a business, there can be disadvantages too. One of the most prominent disadvantages is that the CIA triad recommends keeping a backup in case of a disaster. This makes the data redundant and prone to being hacked, which is one of the major reasons behind using the CIA triad. The data might be saved in the cloud or on some third-party server, which has less privacy.
In addition, the cost of storing data in multiple places increases. The CIA triad is considered a basic security model, which is not quite feasible for complex problems or systems. It can make availability and security achievable up to merely a basic level.
Even though it is mostly used by cybersecurity professionals, any website owner or maintainer can control the security of the data on their site by using the CIA triad. Regardless of who the website is for, the information on it must be secure, reliable, and accessible. The CIA triad's notions can be used to direct choices that will guarantee that this demand is satisfied. You can breathe better knowing that you have reduced the likelihood that your data will be compromised in an attack or accident by applying these techniques.