Cyber Security vs Information Assurance: What’s the Difference

Choose Between Information Assurance or Cyber Security 

Cyber Security vs Information Assurance can be a complicated comparison. But the differences between them are major. It’s crucial to know these distinctions. Specially to choose a course of study or career goal between the two.

Cyber Security vs Information Assurance: What’s the Difference?

Information Assurance creates systems to protect data. These practices maintain information for authorized users only. They manage risk and prevent threats. This discipline is more established than Cybersecurity. Because Info Assurance protects digital and hard copy records alike. Its focus is broader, and it’s been around longer. Information Assurance works like an umbrella; each spoke protecting a different area. Cybersecurity represents one spoke.

Cybersecurity

That’s because Cybersecurity is a subset of Information Assurance. It’s only about cyberspace. Info Assurance is about all types of information. Cyberspace means the Internet and its many arms. That includes websites, email, firewalls, and the like. It’s all online. So, Cybersecurity prevents hacks and viral attacks. These are critical protections for any person or workplace.

Information Assurance

There’s more to Information Assurance, though. Yes, they secure information online. It’s the Cybersecurity arm at work. But there’s an entire system of information beyond cyberspace. Because IA assures all forms of information across media, it’s more complex. 

While IA and cybersecurity focus to prevent and deter unauthorized access to information. Cybersecurity has a smaller scope. It’s also a newer field. After all, we’ve always needed to protect our information. Computers aren’t the origin story of security.

Potential Career Paths

According to the BLS, Information Security opportunities will grow at a rate of 28 percent from 2016 to 2026. Cybersecurity jobs include various analyst consultant positions. Such a position requires a passion for tech, of course. But you’ll also need to understand the business where you consult. That’s because analysts must know how it works to protect crucial factors.

This is even more the case with Information Assurance. IA involves all aspects of information. So, it impacts all company matters. Careers thus cover more ground. That means there’s overlap between IA and Cybersecurity jobs. But an Information Assurance degree could expand job opportunities.

Cyber security vs information assurance: Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Entry level job applicants in both areas need a bachelor’s degree. Employers also prefer a few years of experience. Luckily, demand keeps rising for workers. Additionally, common IT certifications, like CISSP, are also standard.

Similarities

  • Classes may include subjects such as data protection and other Computer Science courses. Examples include, Computer Forensics, Security and Risk Analysis, and Problem Solving.
  • Students may earn similar standard certifications. There are more than 70 certifications. But not all are necessary.
  • Hacking, Internet, and technology change every day. That means these programs of study must keep up and evolve to stay accurate. 
  • Ethics envelope all matters of Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. Doing what’s right is not always cut and dry. Classes like Ethical hacking can help prepare students for tough decisions ahead.  
  • Both programs prepare students for a master’s degree in either discipline. They understand IT security products and trends on many levels. A Cybersecurity major may need more business courses if they also want to do IA. Luckily those are plentiful in graduate programs.

Differences

  • Cybersecurity runs through Computer Science departments. The technical focus prepares students to protect the information and its underlying data.
  • Info Assurance students often enroll in Business programs. Management Information Systems is a common major. That’s because it’s a corporate area of study.
  • Technical aspects of Cybersecurity are not crucial to Information Assurance. Cyber courses get in-depth and hands-on. They study Networking with TCP/IP and Windows Enterprise Administration. Cybersecurity majors focuses on more technical aspects.
  • Information Assurance keeps a theoretical approach. An IA degree holder learns what measures and approaches to take. They leave it up to the Cybersecurity Specialist to execute them.

CYBER SECURITY VS INFORMATION ASSURANCE: How Master’s Degrees Compare

The National Security Agency honors 100+ schools as centers for Information Assurance excellence. That’s because they meet a “critical need for IA research and cybersecurity experts”. So, our government intelligence believes we need more experts. One path to expertise starts with a master’s degree. 

Similarities

  • Cybersecurity and IA  master’s programs include fundamentals taken to the next level. This may include classes like Ethical Hacking, Threat Detection, and Penetration Testing.
  • Students also may focus on risk management in these degree programs. They learn to recognize potential hazards as well as how to deter or manage them.
  • These are both technical programs. That’s because no matter the application, students must understand the underlying tech. 
  • Class content shifts all the time in these degree programs. They need to evolve and adapt to an ever-changing arena. 

Differences

  • Enterprise knowledge is key to an Information Assurance Master’s degree. It’s about managing the entire enterprise of information to keep it secure. So, an IA Master’s degree program covers a lot more ground than cyberspace.
  • Some employers prefer applicants have an MBA in Information Systems. This means only Information Assurance degree holders need apply. Others want a Manager for Database Security. In that case, a perfect candidate likely has a Cybersecurity Masters. 
  • Cybersecurity covers cyberspace and technical aspects of information over the Internet. That means taking advanced courses in Cryptography and Cryptographic Systems, for instance. This is the depths of data management.
  • The Information Assurance masters covers fewer technology courses. It’s more about policy and management. So, typical classes include Enterprise Architecture and Managing a Secure Enterprise. 
  • Between the two courses of study there’s a macro/micro distinction. That’s because you can specialize in Cybersecurity if you get a Masters in IA. But you can’t do it the other way around. Information Assurance covers more ground. Cybersecurity is a subset. It’s crucial but more concentrated.