What Is Cybersecurity?

The term "cybersecurity" is often mistaken to mean cyber-safety.

Cyber-safety, generally, refers to the actions that an individual home user (adult or child) can take to be aware of, and protect oneself from, risks to one’s computer, data, and privacy. This type of information is often put out at free sessions at schools and libraries, where it is typically concerned with preventing online bullying, online scams, and online dating.

Cyber-safety pertains to individual home users.
Cybersecurity involves protecting and maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and information systems.

While cyber-safety is an important aspect of cybersecurity, they are not one and the same.

Cybersecurity involves: 1) protecting information and information systems from threats to confidentiality, integrity, and availability; 2) understanding risks to systems and data; and 3) taking action to manage, treat, and monitor those risks. 

Information systems are made up of people, networks, hardware, software, and data. Confidentiality, integrity, and availability are key tenets of secure information systems. Confidentiality means that access to information is limited to authorized parties; integrity means preserving the consistency, accuracy, and trustworthiness of information throughout its life cycle; and availability means that authorized parties are able to access information when needed. These tenets are commonly known as “The CIA Triad”.

Cybersecurity is a critical, all-encompassing issue.

Nearly every industry sector in the world depends on secure information systems. Unfortunately, systems face persistent and constantly evolving threats from adversaries. Adversaries include malicious insiders, hackers, cyber-criminals, hacktivists, and cyber terrorists. They may be motivated by revenge; ideology; or personal, financial, or political gain.

Labor Force Shortage

The outlook for cybersecurity professionals is extremely promising. Take a look at cybersecurity job market in your state here: https://www.cyberseek.org/

Defining the Cybersecurity discipline

Cybersecurity is defined as a “computing-based discipline involving technology, people, information, and processes to enable assured operations in the context of adversaries. It involves the creation, operation, analysis, and testing of secure computer systems. It is an interdisciplinary course of study, including aspects of law, policy, human factors, ethics, and risk management in the context of adversaries.”

–Joint Task Force on Cybersecurity Education (CSEC2017)


Joint Task Force on Cybersecurity Education. (31 December 2017). Curriculum Guidelines for Post-Secondary Degree Programs in Cybersecurity. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3184594.


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