Cybersecurity Nuts and Bolts: What Is Information Assurance and Its Major Components?

Cyberattacks cost organizations an average of $4.45 million per breach in 2023, a 15% increase over the past three years, prompting half of all public and private enterprises to upgrade their information assurance (IA) and cybersecurity systems and protocols.

As a result, employers predict hiring 53,200 IA/cybersecurity professionals annually through 2032 for a job growth rate of 32%, the fourth highest among all occupations tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The US has less than half of the cybersecurity candidates it needs to keep up with ever-intensifying demand,” according to Security. Students in the Southern Utah University (SUU) online Master of Science (M.S.) in Cybersecurity with Information Assurance – Cybersecurity Strategy Emphasis program develop the skills and expertise to meet this demand.

How Are IA and Cybersecurity Related?

IA and cybersecurity are closely integrated strategies with a nuanced distinction between their roles and responsibilities.

On the one hand, cybersecurity involves defending digital assets from threats such as malware and denial-of-service attacks, network breaches, phishing and social engineering scams. IA, on the other hand, focuses on developing and implementing policies and procedures governing risk assessment, access controls and vulnerability and incident-response management.

“Cybersecurity versus Information Assurance isn’t an either/or question. The answer is both,” according to Bluefin, a cybersecurity services provider. Another information security company, Sentient Digital, Inc., defines IA as “the cornerstone of any successful cybersecurity framework.”

The foundation of an effective IA protocol rests on five principles:

  1. Availability ensures that critical data and systems remain accessible and operational. It comprises the use of redundant servers, backup systems and disaster recovery procedures that support continuity by safeguarding against disruptions, unauthorized access and downtime.
  2. Integrity focuses on using digital signatures, permissions and other security and access controls to protect data from unauthorized use and tampering.
  3. Confidentiality involves encryption, anonymization and policies governing the acquisition, use and disposal of sensitive information to ensure confidentiality and compliance with regulatory demands.
  4. Authentication verifies the identity of users and integrated systems through secure authentication methods such as passwords, biometrics and multi-factor authentication.
  5. Nonrepudiation provides a digital trail using audits and crypto-signatures that security investigators can track back to users in the event of tampering with digital transactions, contracts and communication.

“The main reason why Information Assurance is so important is that it focuses on finding more effective ways to safeguard and maintain control over important information,” Jose Gomez explains in a Koombea article.

Benefits of an Advanced Degree in Information Assurance

The rapidly expanding gap between the demand for and supply of information security and assurance professionals creates virtually limitless opportunities for people with advanced insights into the principles and practices of protecting data and networks.

An ideal way to acquire that understanding and knowledge is through SUU’s online M.S. in Cybersecurity with Information Assurance – Cybersecurity Strategy Emphasis program. Its curriculum focuses on topics such as the relationship between cybersecurity and information assurance, network and cloud security, risk management and regulatory compliance.

As a result, graduates can pursue leadership roles that require expertise in the analysis of digital security frameworks in enterprise settings, management of installation and upgrade projects and development of incident prevention and response protocols.

What Are Some Careers Available to Information Assurance Professionals?

The top paying roles on the Career Guide list of the 18 jobs open to graduates of programs like SUU’s:

  • Director of information technology. Responsible for all IT functions and systems, including the strategic management of enterprise-level cybersecurity and IA functions, the annual compensation for IT directors ranges from $136,000 to $370,000, averaging $221,886.
  • Director of information security. The role includes supervising all digital security operations, analyzing and tracking vulnerabilities and preparing and managing operational budgets. Information security directors earn an average base salary of $155,756.
  • Business intelligence manager. Tasked with duties such as reviewing, collecting and managing sensitive client data and analyzing security procedures and policies, business intelligence managers earn between $78,000 and $141,000, with an average base salary of $107,765.

“The rapid expansion of the digital economy — and our growing reliance on it — make cybersecurity an absolutely critical profession,” the World Economic Forum warns. This critical need means graduates of SUU’s online M.S. in Cybersecurity with Information Assurance – Cybersecurity Strategy Emphasis program will have many career opportunities, as the digital economy continues to expand and shows no signs of slowing. Through courses like Foundations of Cybersecurity with Information Assurance, graduates gain foundational knowledge in how cybersecurity and information assurance work together.

Learn more about SUU’s online M.S. in Cybersecurity with Information Assurance – Cybersecurity Strategy Emphasis program.

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