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An Introduction to Information Security

1.1 Purpose
This publication serves as a starting-point for those new to information security as well as those unfamiliar with NIST information security publications and guidelines. The intent of this special publication is to provide a high-level overview of information security principles by introducing related concepts and the security control families (as defined in NIST SP 800-53, Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations) that organizations can leverage to effectively secure their systems 1 and information. To better understand the meaning and intent of the security control families described later, this publication begins by familiarizing the reader with various information security principles.

After the introduction of these security principles, the publication provides detailed descriptions of multiple security control families as well as the benefits of each control family. The point is not to impose requirements on organizations, but to explore available techniques for applying a specific control family to an organization’s system and to explain the benefit(s) of employing the selected controls.

Since this publication provides an introduction to information security, detailed steps as to how security controls are implemented or how to check for security control effectiveness are not included. Rather, separate publications that may provide more detailed information about a specific topic will be noted as a reference.

1.2 Intended Audience
The target audience for this publication are those new to the information security principles and tenets needed to protect information and systems in a way that is commensurate with risk. This publication provides a basic foundation of concepts and ideas to any person tasked with or interested in understanding how to secure systems.

For that reason, this publication is a good resource for anyone seeking a better understanding of information security basics or a high-level view on the topic. The tips and techniques described in this publication may be applied to any type of information or system in any type of organization. While there may be differences in the way federal organizations, academia, and the private sector process, store, and disseminate information within their respective systems, the basic principles of information security are applicable to all.


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