What is information systems security?

Information systems security is a hot topic in the news and at the water cooler these days. It is not uncommon to read about breaches in the security of large companies in the news daily. Target’s major breach during Black Friday in 2013 left consumers concerned for their personal information. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported a data breach at White Lodging Services Corporation, which works with 168 hotels in 21 states. This breach resulted in the fraudulent use of hundreds of credit and debit cards for payment at Marriott hotels between March and December of 2013. Recently, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the hackers that attacked the Neiman Marcus Group in late 2013 were part of a Russian syndicate that stole more than 160 million credit-card numbers from retailers over the course of seven years.

According to the dictionary of Military and Associated Terms of the US Department of Defense, information systems security is “The protection of information and information systems against unauthorized access or modification of information, whether in storage, processing, or transit, and against denial of service to authorized users. Information security includes those measures necessary to detect, document, and counter such threats. Information security is composed of computer security and communications security.”

At its most basic level information systems security is keeping confidential information, confidential.

Businesses in the United States are seeing new rules and regulations that will need to be managed to protect consumer confidentiality. According to data from the Nilson report, the United States accounts for only 27% of credit card transactions in the world, but are the victims of 47% of fraud.

Breaches such as these have reduced consumer confidence, and have moved the topic of the safety of personal information to the forefront for many organizations, which are promising to keep the data of its customers secure from hackers.

The question though is: As hackers become increasingly sophisticated, how organizations stay a step ahead to ensure their information systems security?

Generally information systems can be broken up into two main groups, IT security and information assurance. IT security is the security applied to technology, usually the computer system. IT security specialists are responsible for keeping all the technology in companies safe from cyber attacks. Information assurance is the act of ensuring data is not lost when issues arise, including natural disasters, computer/server malfunction, or theft.  IT security specialists generally provide information assurance by having off-site backups of data to combat these problems.

Cyber security and information systems security degrees are becoming increasingly popular. As cyber threats grow, demand for trained professionals continues to grow. Most recently, the need has emerged for not only technology experts but professionals who possess the technological capabilities and are well versed in business leadership and strategy.

George Mason’s Masters in Management of Secure Information Systems is a unique cyber security degree that provides IT professionals with the leadership skills and business fundamentals to address growing information systems security challenges. The multidisciplinary program includes courses taught by faculty from the School of Management, School of Engineering, and School of Public Policy. These faculty are not only experts in the field but seasoned professionals with first-hand knowledge and application of their subjects.

Information systems security is an in-demand career path and a necessity to protect consumer data.


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J.P. Auffret

I am director of the executive degree programs in the George Mason School of Business including the MS in Technology Management, MS in Management of Secure Information Systems, and Executive MBA. Additionally, I am a co-founder of the International Academy of CIO and serves as an advisory board member of the Waseda eGovernance Research Center.

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    Stephen C. Cheptarus


    Provided me with an insight of what I was looking for in my research work. Congratulations are in order.


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