IT security is a complex issue especially today, when the boom in teleworking and the acceleration of the digital transformation of companies have led to a considerable increase in vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Hackers and cyber-criminals exploit potential weak points to introduce malware in order to steal important data from companies and even slow down or disable their systems or networks.

To ensure optimum performance in computer systems and networks, companies need to work on two types of IT security system: active security and passive security. What do they consist of? What are the differences between them? This article will explain it in detail.

Active security and passive security in IT. Definition, importance and differences

What are active security and passive security?

Computer security or cybersecurity can be defined as a set of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) mechanisms and procedures designed to provide protection and involving a wide range of systems and devices: hardware, software, networks and all types of computer equipment, including mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) and desktop computers.

The importance of implementing active and passive security systems

Ensuring the security of digital data and information, as well as your IT systems, is a difficult objective to achieve but one that is absolutely necessary, a challenge faced by all companies, regardless of their size, and also by self-employed professionals. Otherwise, they risk exposing the data and information they handle to hackers and cyber-criminals, whose objective is to use them for fraudulent purposes: the sale of personal data, making purchases or carrying out banking transactions without your consent, identity theft, etc. The consequences can be the loss of customers and the credibility of the company or professional, financial damage, and heavy fines and penalties. Another possible risk is digital sabotage, which can seriously affect the operations, profitability and effectiveness of the organisation.

In view of the serious consequences that a cyberattack may have for a company, it is essential to use the tools available and implement all the measures necessary to avoid this, both those that are preventive (active) and those that focus on dealing with the situation when there has already been a security incident (passive).

The difference between active security and passive security in IT

The difference between active and passive computer security is that active security attempts to prevent the attack or incident before it occurs, i.e. it is proactive,  while passive security refers to measures the company takes to respond to computer security issues when they have already occurred and try to find a solution.

Below we list the main measures for each type of IT security.

Active safety measures 

  • The installation of effective, up-to-date antivirus software on company equipment, networks and systems, in order to combat the main types of malware (computer viruses).

  • The design and implementation of effective policies for managing user passwords, credentials and authorisation.

  • IT security awareness-raising and training campaigns for all employees.

  • Internal and external audits to detect vulnerabilities in systems and equipment, and resolve them.

  • Regular frequent backups of the company’s software, applications, information and data.

Passive security measures

  • Elimination of malware from infected equipment using appropriate software.

  • Recovery of lost or damaged information from previously made backups.

  • If a cyberattack has been detected, make hard disk partitions or use independent repositories to prevent the spread of malware.

Generally speaking, active security is considered the ideal option, as it involves taking measures to prevent any computer incident. The most advanced prevention systems, recommended for companies with particularly sensitive information (banking, healthcare, traffic control and other basic services) use the services of analysts specialised in preventing and neutralising future cyberattacks through complex defence systems, which combine the knowledge and experience of past situations with real-time information relating to multiple parameters.

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