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What is the CIA Triad?

What is the CIA Triad? Definition & Examples in Cybersecurity

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CIA Triad

What is the CIA Triad?

The CIA Triad is a fundamental cybersecurity model that acts as a foundation in the development of security policies designed to protect data. The three letters in CIA Triad stand for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability.

In theory, the CIA Triad combines three distinct means of interacting with data to create a model for data security. First, the principle of confidentiality requires that only authorized users have access to data within a system.

The second tenet of integrity imparts the necessity of the trustworthiness and veracity of data. The final component of availability dictates that data must be accessible where and when users need it. The intersection of these three concepts is a guiding framework for protecting digital information.

What Are the Origins of the Triad?

As much as the name implies, the CIA Triad is not related to the Central Intelligence Agency; although, their cyber security program almost assuredly utilizes the model.

The individual principles have existed since even before computer data became a reality in the mid-twentieth century. And they were independently utilized in data security since then, but it is not known when the tenets were first thought of as a triad.

The term is mentioned in the 1998 book Fighting Computer Crime, and it appeared to be the standard among security practices at that time. No matter when the idea of the Triad was first conceptualized, the principles have long been in use by security professionals who understood the need to make information more secure.

Where Does the CIA Triad Fit into Cybersecurity?

Effective protection of digital assets begins with the principles of the CIA Triad. All three tenets are necessary for data protection, and a security incident for one can cause issues for another. Although confidentiality and integrity are often seen as at odds in cybersecurity (i.e., encryption can compromise integrity), they should be balanced against risks when designing a security plan.

The CIA Triad forces system designers and security experts to consider all three principles when developing a security program to protect against modern data loss from cyber threats, human error, natural disasters, and other potential threats. It is a springboard for conceptualizing how information should be protected and for determining the best way to implement that protection within a given environment.


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A Deeper Look at the Three Pillars in Action

Remember that the CIA Triad is made up of the core tenets: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. CIA Triad

  1. Confidentiality refers to protecting information such that only those with authorized access will have it.
  2. Integrity relates to the veracity and reliability of data. Data must be authentic, and any attempts to alter it must be detectable.
  3. Availability is a crucial component because data is only useful if it is accessible. Availability ensures that data can be accessed when needed and will continue to function when required.

That’s the theory behind the Triad. Now, we will take a look at how Triad is put into action cyber security strategy with some real-life examples.

→ Putting Confidentiality into Practice:

  1. Data encryption is one way to ensure confidentiality and that unauthorized users cannot retrieve data for which they do not have access.
  2. Access control is also an integral part of maintaining confidentiality by managing which users have permissions for accessing data.
  3. Life science organizations that utilize patient data must maintain confidentiality or violate HIPAA.

→ Putting Integrity into Practice: 

  1. Event log management within a Security Incident and Event Management system is crucial for practicing data integrity.
  2. Implementing version control and audit trails into your IT program will allow your organization to guarantee that its data is accurate and authentic.
  3. Integrity is an essential component for organizations with compliance requirements. For example, a condition of the SEC compliance requirements for financial services organizations requires providing accurate and complete information to federal regulators.

→ Putting Availability into Practice:

  1. Employing a backup system and a disaster recovery plan is essential for maintaining data availability should a disaster, cyber-attack, or another threat disrupt operations.
  2. Utilizing cloud solutions for data storage is one way in which an organization can increase the availability of data for its users.
  3. As the reliance on data analytics expands, the need for data to be available and accessible grows for sectors like financial services and life sciences.

Is the CIA Triad Limited as a Cyber Security Strategy?

As the amount of data explodes and as the complexity of securing that data has deepened, the CIA Triad may seem to be an oversimplification of the reality of modern-day cyber security strategy. However, it is critical to remember that the Triad is not actually a strategy; but instead, it is a starting place from which a security team can create a strategy.

It is a foundational concept on which to build a full-scale, robust cyber security strategy. It cannot eliminate risk, but it can help prioritize systemic risks to address them better. Additionally, the CIA Triad cannot prevent all forms of compromise, but it helps reduce the likelihood of unnecessary exposure and can help decrease the impact of a cyber attack.


[av_font_icon icon=’ue84d’ font=’entypo-fontello’ style=” caption=” link=” linktarget=” size=’20px’ position=’left’ animation=” color=” av_uid=’av-2xp037′ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=”][/av_font_icon]Related Content → Is Your Security Posture Negligent? Not with Multi-layered Cybersecurity.


Why the CIA Security Triad is Essential

The Triad is essential because it is a reliable and balanced way to assess data security. It weighs the relationship between confidentiality, integrity, and availability from an overarching perspective. The framework requires that any attempt to secure digital information will not weaken another pillar of defense.

Additionally, the CIA Triad effectively identifies risk factors in IT systems. It is also a gateway for even more advanced risk assessment and management tools, such as the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) list and the National Vulnerability Database.

How Does Coretelligent Utilize the CIA Triad?

Coretelligent incorporates the core tenets of the CIA triad into our cybersecurity, managed IT services, cloud solutions, and more. In addition, we practice defense in depth strategy, which is a system of overlapping layers of protection that range from easy-to-implement controls to complex security measures.

These layers are designed to create an interlocking barrier, not unlike the security system at your home.

We guide our clients on how best to balance making their data secure, available, and reliable. To learn more about our solutions, reach out for a consultation with our team.


[av_font_icon icon=’ue84d’ font=’entypo-fontello’ style=” caption=” link=” linktarget=” size=’20px’ position=’left’ animation=” color=” av_uid=’av-2xp037′ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=”][/av_font_icon]Related Content →  Evaluate your security readiness with our  Cybersecurity Checklist.


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