Understanding the Difference Between Information Security and Cybersecurity

It’s common to see the terms “information security” and “cybersecurity” used interchangeably. While parallels exist, like how both are related to information risk management, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the many differences.


The most important reason is to understand the different values associated with various information systems, so you know how to protect them. After all, cybercriminals would rather steal your online banking information than what’s posted in your high school reunion WhatsApp chat. 


So, whether you’re a consumer, client, or professional, let’s take a deep dive into the differences between both industries so you can gauge risks, comprehend threats, and decipher what systems to implement to protect your information asset(s). 


Information Security vs Cybersecurity


Forbes contributors Brandon Galarita and Brenna Swanston describe an easy way to remember the primary difference between information security and cybersecurity: knowing the latter is a subset of the former. Information security is an umbrella term that describes all data, whereas cybersecurity relates to information stored in cyberspace.


Virtual Private Network Service Provider Nord VPN defines cyberspace as an online environment where people communicate, share files, consume media, and exchange information. Some popular examples include social media and streaming platforms like Instagram or Netflix. Cloud service providers like Google Drive and Microsoft Azure are also versions of cyberspace. 


Alternatively, information security describes the overall practices associated with creating systems and carrying out policies to protect all information. That includes digital data like videos, software, or databases, physical data such as documents and hardware, intellectual property including trademarks or patents, and all the information in cyberspace. 


Now you have a fundamental understanding of how each industry differs, here are some distinctions between the types of jobs you can get in cybersecurity and information security. 


How Cybersecurity Roles differ from Information Security Responsibilities


Most cybersecurity roles involve practicing the prevention of cyberattacks by adopting the infiltrator’s mindset. The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) defines a cyberattack as any intention to steal, expose, alter, disable, or destroy data, applications, and other assets through unauthorized access to a network, computer system, or digital device.


Assuming a hacker’s mindset in this scenario could be testing how much information different types of spyware collect once installed into your client’s computer system. Another example could be staging a phishing attack by sending out text messages to employees with directions from a C-suite executive to open a link. The vulnerabilities exposed in each instance help to ensure cybersecurity professionals like cybersecurity engineers and information security managers can identify and mitigate threats before they happen. 




Information security responsibilities focus on identifying confidential information that hackers could steal or leverage online or in person. Examples of online confidential information include data and networks, while physical sensitive data includes tangible assets like buildings and equipment. 


Physical security is centered around preventing physical access to confidential information, whereas online information security focuses on mitigating the risk of digital access. However, information security provider Oloid states that both require a multi-layered approach that involves detection and prevention. “Most importantly, the field aims to provide availability, integrity, and confidentiality of information,” echoes Forbes tech contributors, Brandon Galarita and Brenna Swanston. 

The industry does this by designing and implementing policies and software systems that protect information. Professionals, including information security analysts and testers, are involved in this work. 


According to the SANS Institute, common policies information security teams implement to protect information include the Acceptable Encryption Policy and Acceptable Use Policy. The first contains guidelines detailing which encryption algorithms are acceptable for an organization. The second refers to standards for using equipment and computing services. It also outlines the appropriate employee security measures to protect an organization’s corporate resources and proprietary information.


Let’s take a deeper look at examples of cyber and information security jobs you can get and explore certification and training options to help build your career. 




What kind of roles can I get in information security? 


Quality Assurance Analyst

Professionals identify issues with applications or programs in this role and share defects. Quality Assurance Analysts often work in computer systems design and related services, manufacturing, or for software publishers. The role involves collaborating with software developers, testers, and other assurance analysts. 


Average Annual Salary for: $99,620

Education/Experience Needed: Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field such as information security.

Our PECB ISO/IEC 27001 LEAD AUDITOR certification can demonstrate your high-level understanding of information security management system audits based on industry-leading principles, procedures, and techniques.




Testers also identify problems with applications or programs and report defects; however, they primarily focus on bugs. Like quality assurance analysts, testers collaborate with software developers and other quality assurance analysts and testers. This role also works in computer systems design, related services, manufacturing, and software publishing. 


Average Annual Salary: $99,620

Education/Experience Needed: Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field such as information security.


Our PECB Lead Pen Test Professional certification can be a great tool to show employers you are well-versed in examining websites for weaknesses, including open-source vulnerabilities, to ensure data systems are impenetrable.


Information Security Analyst

These individuals plan and carry out security protocols that protect an organization’s networks and computer systems. Many information security analysts are employed at computer companies, consulting firms, or financial organizations. 


Average Annual Salary: $112,000 

Education/Experience Needed: A bachelor’s degree in computer science field or professional certification and related work experience.


Our PECB ISO/IEC 27001:LEAD IMPLEMENTER certification can demonstrate your ability to strategize, execute, oversee, and sustain an organization’s information management system.


What kind of roles can I get in cybersecurity? 


Network Engineer

In this role, an individual establishes and manages company or organization networks. Network engineers are also responsible for ensuring current computer networks like wide area networks and local area networks, as well as intranet and extranet, are working efficiently. Lastly, network engineers design and implement new network solutions and troubleshoot, diagnose, and resolve hardware, software, or any other problems related to networks and systems.  


Average Annual Salary: $81,000

Education/Experience Needed: A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field like information security.


Our PECB LEAD CLOUD SECURITY MANAGER certification can show employers you have the necessary skills to support businesses in securing their cloud infrastructure.


Cybersecurity Engineer

Professionals in this role examine an organization’s security needs and help it establish security standards and best practices. This involves designing, implementing, and maintaining network solutions that protect an organization’s data against any threat. Cybersecurity engineers also conduct tests to expose vulnerabilities and strategize responses to security breaches.


Average Annual Salary: $102,000

Education/Experience Needed: Employers generally require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, systems engineering or a similar field like information security.


Our PECB Lead Pen Test Professional certification is one way to demonstrate your ability to spot an information system’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities.



Cybersecurity Manager


Cybersecurity managers protect an organization’s computer networks and systems from cyberattacks, hackers, viruses, and malware, among other threats. They are responsible for implementing security measures, updating current security systems, and conducting routine audits to ensure systems comply with relevant regulations. Cybersecurity managers are responsible for training and managing staff and collaborating with operations managers on an organization’s security strategy.


Average Annual Salary: $125,000

Education/Experience Needed: A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or similar field like information security.


Our PECB ISO/IEC 27001 LEAD AUDITOR certification may help employers recognize your ability to ensure an organization’s information security management system is industry-compliant.  



If you have more questions or are looking for some guidance on how to map out your career as a cybersecurity or information security professional, email us!