The Importance of Information Security
In a simple sense, information is structured, processed and organised information designed to help decision making and give context to data. An example of information may be the sale of a single product by a single customer at a particular restaurant. The information provided on vouchers or restaurant forms gives an insight into customer preferences and allows restaurant owners to tailor services to suit the customers’ needs.
In a more detailed sense, information can be used to build systems, make predictions, and provide decision support. For instance, an information system may be used to analyse customer demographics, reveal customer patterns or forecast future sales. In a similar way, information may be used to gather, process and present information. For instance, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter use information to target ads and update fan pages and profiles. A blog may publish tips and information to readers, and online databases provide information on everything from product availability to product pricing.
Information systems are used in many areas of business today. For instance, e-commerce stores use a complex system to manage inventory, fulfil orders, provide payment options and display digital media for customer browsing and purchase decisions. Similarly, doctors can record medical records using a computer network and secure storage facilities. Some people even store their personal data on an external hard drive connected to the Internet and use it for research, composing articles and so forth.
However, many people are wary of computers and prefer to hand-write or punch keys. This is not entirely true, however. In some cases, information can still be exchanged via paper mail, fax, or by phone. Electronic mail is especially useful in business, as it allows a company to quickly respond to queries and make alterations when necessary. In addition, email can be utilised as part of a marketing campaign, as it allows an organisation to send bulk messages to potential clients or through formal and informal methods such as newsletters.
In this age of instant gratification, information is often lost or misplaced. Companies may be able to recover some information that has been deleted on a computer, but it’s not always possible to recreate or restore entire applications and documents. It may also be more difficult to locate and restore data if the drive has been completely purged of all files. For this reason, most companies now require a secondary or ‘cached’ cache on their computer systems. A user maintains a small amount of information on their system, such as saving passwords, that is not actually stored on their hard drive, and may be retrieved via a ‘cd-ROM’.
The importance of information is continually highlighted by organisations, government agencies and security agencies as being essential for the protection of both the public and the individual’s privacy. For instance, in the UK, it is against the law to release confidential details of financial accounts without either prior permission or notification to clients. Similarly, the government of India applies a series of penalties for hacking into computers without authorisation. As well as being a criminal offence, it can result in huge fines or even imprisonment. However, information is increasingly available online, both from individuals themselves and businesses, so the need to store secure information is important.