Everything starts from the foundations

What revolves around Cybersecurity: security principles

Posted by Salvo Bertoncini on June 02, 2022 · 3 mins read

We all think of Cybersecurity as hooded kids writing gibberish on a terminal, or powerful organizations launching attacks on vital national infrastructure, leaving citizens in despair. Well, that's only partially true.

Cybersecurity it's a matter of implementing security solutions, mostly. Nevertheless, at the highest level, Cybersecurity means applying security principles, policies, and controls.

Let's shine the light on principles.

    Table of Contents

Security Principles

What do we mean by security principles?

Despite the huge amount of definitions that we could find on the web, security principles are exacly what we might think about: the foundations of our resilient Cyberhome.

In detail, as per NIST[1], the most famous security principles are Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability. Those three cornerstones form the so called CIA Triad.

Let's dive in.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality aims to protect the access to data, object or resources, protecting their secrecy, through preventing (or minimizing) unauthorized access. Therefore, only the intended recipient of a message will be able to read it. For instance, Security Controls that provide Confidentiality are encryption, access controls and stenography. These controls avoid unauthorized disclosure. Some attacks could be performed to violate confidentiality, including password stealing, social engineering, escalation of privileges, eavesdropping, sniffing. Violation of confidentiality may happen unintentionally, as a result of human error, oversight, or ineptitude.

Integrity

Integrity aims to protect the reliability and correctness of data, protecting their correctness, preventing unauthorized alterations of data. Therefore:

  1. only the authorized subjects will be able to modify the data;
  2. the authorized subject will be able to make only authorized modifications (avoiding mistakes).

For instance, Security Controls that provide Integrity are restriction of access to data, objects and resources, authentication procedures, intrusion detection systems, object/data encryption, hash verification, activity logging.

Some attacks could be performed to violate integrity, including viruses, logic bombs, unauthorized access, error in coding and applications, malicious modification, intentional replacement, system back doors. Violation of integrity may happen unintentionally, as a result of human error, oversight, or ineptitude.

Availability

Availability aims to ensure timely and uninterrupted access to objects, protecting their provisioningm, preventing the impossibility to provide services.

For instance, Security Controls that provide Availability are monitoring performance and network traffic, using firewalls and routers, implementing redundancy for critical systems, maintaining and testing backup systems.

Some attack could be performed to violate availability, including DoS attack, object destruction, communication interruptions. Violation of availability may happen unintentionally, as a result of device failure, software errors, environmental issues (heat, static, flooding, power loss).

Conclusion

We shed some light on well-known security principles Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability, referenced by the terms CIA Triad.

A security solution should address all the CIA Triad principles: the better the principles are addressed, the more secure the solution is.

It all starts here.

References

  1. [1] NIST SP 800-12 r1

Photo by Daniel Monteiro on Unsplash.