Is it time to update the old standard?
The CIA triad is a well-known InfoSec framework that comprises three major data security pillars:
- Confidentiality: Data remains unavailable and unintelligible to unauthorized users.
- Integrity: Data remains accurate, complete, and unmodified.
- Availability: Data remains accessible and usable on demand.
The CIA triad has been around since the late 1980s, and it remains important today. For one thing, it undergirds many important data regulations, such as the EU’s GDPR. For another, it offers a strong framework for companies to assess their data protection needs.
However, the world of data security has changed drastically in the last few years, and some experts believe it’s time to shift to a new paradigm. Several new frameworks have been advanced, with proponents suggesting different ways to broaden the CIA triad and better protect against emerging threats.
Why update the CIA triad?
While the CIA triad offers clear value to many organizations, it was created in a vastly different digital environment than the one we inhabit today. With the advent of new technologies like cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and AI, our security landscape has become much more complex.
Traditional perimeter-based security models are no longer sufficient for hybrid- and multi-cloud architectures, and AI-assisted phishing and social engineering schemes exploit human vulnerabilities in ways that the CIA triad does not address. Additionally, new concerns like data resilience, risk management, and incident response make it clear that a more comprehensive and robust cybersecurity framework is needed.
As a paper from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of the Netherlands notes, the CIA triad is also fairly narrow. Confidentiality, integrity, and availability are all binary values, and they all typically refer to an individual asset (e.g. a file) rather than a broader context (e.g. a computer network or an office environment). This framing can lead to stopgap solutions and put a damper on nuanced risk assessment.
By modernizing the CIA triad, organizations can ensure that their cybersecurity measures meet the evolving risks of today’s digital environment.
How can we update the CIA triad?
Below, we’ll explore four models that expand on, update, or replace the CIA triad. While all have their merits, each offers a different framework for thinking about modern-day data security.
The Parkerian hexad
Proposed in 1998, the Parkerian hexad is designed to complement the CIA triad with three additional pillars:
- possession or control
First, the element of possession or control in the Parkerian hexad recognizes the importance of securing physical and digital assets beyond just data. This pillar emphasizes the need to prevent unauthorized access to hardware, devices, and systems.
Second, the element of authenticity addresses growing concerns around phishing, data tampering, and fraud. It aims to verify identity in digital interactions, such as determining whether an email is from a trusted source.
Third, the element of utility helps companies balance their security measures with usability and functionality. It emphasizes the need for security controls that do not hinder operational efficiency, and it acknowledges that overly restrictive security measures can impede legitimate user activities.
Taken together, the three pillars of the Parkerian hexad provide a more holistic, nuanced, and adaptable approach to security, one that takes into account the more sophisticated cyberthreats facing organizations today.
The DIE model
Fortunately, the DIE model is not as sinister as it sounds. The acronym stands for “distributed, immutable, ephemeral,” and it encourages data security by design.
The DIE model recognizes that newer security solutions tend to offer protection by making data distributed, immutable (impossible to change), or ephemeral (having a short and predefined lifespan). Whereas the CIA triad emphasizes abstract security goals, the DIE model focuses on the system characteristics that foster security.
The DIE model overlaps with the CIA triad in some ways: data immutability can guarantee data integrity, and ephemerality means that confidentiality becomes less of a concern. But it also reduces complexity and helps minimize nonessential infrastructure to better serve the needs of modern enterprises.
The Open Information Security Management Maturity Model (O-ISM3)
The Open Information Security Management Maturity Model (O-ISM3) is a comprehensive framework developed by a consortium of international experts from the Open Group and the ISM3 Consortium. O-ISM3 encompasses a broader range of security dimensions than the CIA triad, including governance, risk management, and compliance.
A technology-neutral framework, O-ISM3 helps organizations assess their security maturity level, identify gaps, and implement stronger security controls. It was designed to ensure that a company’s security controls match its business requirements, and it can be tailored to fit different industries and organizational sizes.
By adopting the O-ISM3 framework, organizations can help narrow the gap between theory and practice for their data security processes. This helps them enhance their overall security posture and mitigate evolving threats in today’s complex digital landscape.
The NIST cybersecurity framework
The NIST cybersecurity framework consists of five key activities that organizations can adopt to enhance their security practices:
- Identify the assets to be secured
- Protect the assets
- Detect when data protection fails via sensors and processes
- Respond to incidents
- Recover with resilience processes
Designed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, this technology-neutral model inherently upholds the CIA triad. However, it places relatively less of an emphasis on data protection, framing it as only one step in a larger process that should also include incident response and recovery plans.
Strengthening data security and privacy with ShardSecure
Regardless of the cybersecurity framework your organization uses, strong data security and resilience tools are key to a comprehensive data strategy. The ShardSecure platform offers advanced file-level protection that prevents unauthorized access in on-prem, cloud, and hybrid- and multi-cloud environments.
ShardSecure’s technology also offers robust data resilience, with high availability, data integrity checks, and a self-healing feature to keep data accessible and accurate during outages and attacks. To learn more about our platform, visit our resources page.