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When you think of the cybersecurity “CIA” triad of Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability, which one of those is most important to your organization? 

From a privacy standpoint, confidentiality reigns supreme. Confidentiality is so important that it is codified into many of the cyber regulations of recent years, most notably the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as well as others

If you approach the CIA triad from a strict business mindset, then availability is probably a prime concern. After all, if the data in unavailable, your business is also unavailable.

It seems that integrity is often given a casual thought and dismissed with little more than a shrug. Is it because it is just not as visceral as the thought of a privacy violation or as important as five-nines (99.999%) availability? Tripwire’s white paper “Closing the Integrity Gap with NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework” takes a fresh look at the importance of maintaining data integrity.

In recent years, ransomware prevention has been the main focus of business. The horribly disruptive criminal act of encrypting a company’s data and then holding it hostage has come to be seen as a breach event. With some of the newer ransomware strains that first steal the data and threaten the publication of it if the ransom is not paid, ransomware has become a privacy breach, as well.  However, the Tripwire document points out that a ransomware attack is a data integrity attack. 

“Integrity is really at the heart of information security protections for any system,” says Ron Ross, Fellow for NIST. “Because if someone is able to indiscriminately change an application or a piece of data or the BIOS instructions or anything within the computing stack—whether the customer s aware or not aware of those changes—then that really attacks the basic underpinnings of an information system, along with everyone’s trust in it.”

That statement brings to light the true problem of an integrity compromise: trust.  When we think of any time that we have lost trust in anything, we are reminded how long, if ever, it takes for us to trust again. 

Whether you want to argue that this is “mincing words” or assert that confidentiality and availability are still the most important aspects of data security doesn’t matter. One thing for certain is that if we ignore any aspect of the CIA triad, we are not thinking like the enemy, thus leaving a gap in our defenses.

It’s an equilateral triangle, with no open ends and no side more important than the other. Each side flows with the next, equally.

The Tripwire white paper explores how the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) can be applied to close the integrity gap. Of course, the CSF is best used in tandem with other NIST documents, such as Special Publication 800-53, which offers guidance on security controls for protecting information systems.

Anyone who has taken a peek at the NIST SP800-53 document may quickly be unnerved by its scope and length. However, your journey towards securing the often-overlooked integrity side of the CIA triad can be eased with the help of Tripwire. Tripwire offers an integrated suite of foundational controls that deliver integrity assurance closely aligned with NIST guidance.

To learn more, download a copy of the white paper here.