What is Information Assurance?

January 5, 2023

At a glance

The main takeaway: What is information assurance? Information assurance is the process of performing third-party audit and attestation services against relevant data security and privacy frameworks and/or other similar objectives. These services provide proof (assurance) that the appropriate controls are in place to safeguard information including sensitive data, such as protected healthcare information (PHI), credit card data, or personal identifiable information (PII).

Impact on your business: Businesses that are required by law or contractual requirements to protect customers’ or other third parties’ data will find it difficult to respond to inquiries from customers or RFPs without being able to demonstrate that the information that they will host and/or maintain is protected by demonstrating that they have the appropriate assurances and/or certifications from an independent auditor in place. 

Next steps: Schedule a consultation with an Aprio Information Assurance advisor. Aprio provides third-party attestation services against all of the leading data security and privacy frameworks.

The full story:

“What is information assurance?” It’s a question we field from many of our current and prospective clients. To provide the appropriate answer, it’s important to acknowledge what is driving the curiosity and the need for information assurance solutions. 

Today, cyberattacks occur at the rate of one every 39 seconds — a rate that only continues to increase year after year. Every business, regardless of their size, is at risk of falling victim to an attack. Business owners and leaders must understand their unique risks and implement strong security programs to protect their operations, systems and sensitive data.

For many businesses, establishing strong cybersecurity controls is merely the first step in the equation.  The second step is being able to prove to customers and stakeholders that these controls are in place and operating as designed. And that’s information assurance.
In this article, we provide a clear definition of information assurance and an overview of the various types of information assurance you can put into place for your business and how you can try to prevent breaches before they happen.

What is information assurance and what types of businesses need it? 

Many businesses are required by law or contractual agreements to provide compliance reporting to prove that they have the right controls in place to protect sensitive data. These are typically businesses that process, store, or manipulate data on behalf of other businesses, especially businesses that provide or handle:

  • Protected healthcare information (PHI) 
  • Personal identifiable information (PII)
  • Credit card data
  • Data or systems that impact customers’ financial reporting of payroll processing, claims recovery, AR, or AP management 

Information assurance services includes third-party audit, attestation, and reporting services that demonstrate compliance with leading data security and privacy frameworks. These include: 

  • SOC 1 for internal controls over financial reporting
  • SOC 2 and SOC 3, HITRUST, and ISO 27001 for data security
  • ISO 27701 for data privacy
  • PCI for payment card processing

Why are information assurance services essential?

To effectively answer the question, “What is information assurance?,” we also need to emphasize its importance as a business tool. Beyond the obvious need to safeguard sensitive information, systems and operations, businesses subject to compliance reporting will find it difficult, if not impossible, to grow without the appropriate compliance certifications, reports, and attestations.  

Businesses without established information assurance programs that lack the necessary reporting documentation to demonstrate compliance with information security and privacy standards will find it difficult to answer customer inquiries and respond to RFPs. These barriers prevent future growth and development; it’s just that simple.

Finding qualified information assurance providers

Businesses should factor compliance into budgeting and consider it as a cost of doing business. However, early-stage companies and more established businesses are often concerned with the cost and complexity of compliance. The best way to control cost is to partner with an established information assurance provider that is certified to perform reporting against all the major security frameworks, in addition to employing harmonized testing and reporting to deliver efficiencies.

For instance, Aprio’s Information Assurance team provides third-party attestation services against all the leading data security and privacy frameworks. Our pragmatic approach harmonizes multiple compliance requirements that enable our teams to “test once and report many.” Not many firms offer the wide range of certifications that we do which means most can’t provide a harmonized approach across these certifications that saves clients both time and money.

The bottom line

Given the proliferation of acronyms and jargon across the information technology industry, “What is information assurance?” is just one of the many questions your business may have about data security and privacy.

If your business model involves the processing, storing or manipulation of PHI, PII, credit card data, or data that can impact financial reporting, you will need to demonstrate compliance with the security protocols and security frameworks that meet your customers’ risk management requirements. Without these certifications in place, long-term growth and sustainability will be difficult feats for your business.

If you would like to learn more about Aprio’s Information Assurance Services, better protect your business, and position it for success, schedule a consultation with our team today.

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About the Author

Brett Williams

Brett is the National Partner in Aprio’s IAS practice and a Certified CSF HITRUST Practitioner (CCSFP). He has 20+ years of focused business process and information technology control experience helping small to midsized companies protect their operations from cyber threats.