What is information protection?
The term information protection summarizes all measures that serve to protect the information of a company or other organization that exists in various digital or analog forms. The protection goals are to prevent tampering or unwanted leakage of sensitive information and to ensure confidentiality.
Information protection measures thus contribute to information security in an organization. Depending on the importance and sensitivity of the information, different measures must be provided. The measures are of an organizational or technical nature and concern the information itself, systems for storing and processing the information, employees, customers, suppliers, or business partners.
The entire life cycle of the information and all information processes must be taken into account. The information to be protected may, for example, be digital information in file forms such as design drawings, customer databases or production plans, paper documents such as contracts or invoices, verbally expressed information or special knowledge, strategies, or know-how.
Possible threats include espionage by competitors, theft, hacker attacks, accidental deletion, destruction by external influences such as fire, water, natural disasters, or technical problems and malfunctions. The protective measures can be based on international standards or guidelines such as the ISO/IEC-27000 series of standards or the BSI (German Federal Office for Information Security) basic IT protection rules, but they must be defined individually for each organization and depending on the information to be protected.
In principle, information protection and information security are the responsibility of the upper management level and the management of an organization. The development of the concept and the operational implementation of information protection is usually delegated to the departments with technical responsibility.
Possible information protection measures
Basically, information protection measures can be divided into technical and non-technical measures. Technical measures include, for example, physical access protection to premises, information storage or IT systems, encryption of data, data backups, authentication and authorization, restricted user accounts, file access controls, use of firewalls or IDS, and IPS (intrusion detection intrusion prevention systems), use of anti-virus software, use of sandboxing concepts, the introduction of phishing protection and much more.
Non-technical and organizational measures include employee training and awareness, establishing behavioral guidelines, creating trust structures, implementing an information protection breach reporting system, and more.
Steps to implement an information protection concept
Creating and implementing an information protection concept requires a structured approach. Possible individual steps are:
- Taking stock of the information available in the various forms
- Recording of possible damage or consequences due to loss of confidentiality, manipulation, or undesired outflow of information
- Classification of the information with regard to its sensitivity, importance, and damage potential
- Analyze potential risks and threats to the information
- Identifying the processes, systems, and people involved in the information flow and those who need to be protected
- Establishing and describing the technical and non-technical measures to protect the information