Data Security

2. What is data?


Data comes in many forms and in many types. It also comes in vast amounts and forms the basis of all decisions, but only after something is done to it to turn it into useful information.

Essentially, the difference between data and information is that data is the raw material for processing and information is the result of the processing.

Some examples between the data and information are provided along with how they compare. Understanding the difference is important as considerable effort is spent preventing hackers from accessing the data.

Data Visualisation

Visualisation of data: Where people live in the USA

Data Vs Information ...
Data Image

As the raw material for processing into information, data has some distinguishing features:-

  • It is unorganised data or facts.
  • Data is plain facts that has to be processed into information.
  • Data has no meaning by itself.
  • Data can come in many forms: numbers, data, text, sound, pictures and video etc.
  • Survey data: companies collect data on customer satisfaction.
  • Census data: who lives where, their gender, what they do, their religion etc.
  • Student data: name, address, date of birth, next of kin etc.
  • Student performance data: exam marks in each subject.

Information is data that has been made useful by processing. It is different from data by:-

  • Information is data with the meaning of what is was collected for.
  • Data doesn't depend on information, but information depends on data. Information cannot be generated without data.
  • Information is meaning that can be conveyed.
  • Survey report: Reports on what customers think about their products or services.
  • Census report: Information about the population; how big it is, where they live, literacy rate etc.
  • Student letters: Consent letters, address labels for reports etc.
  • Student reports: Report cards on each student from each teacher, merit lists etc.
Key Differences
  • Data is the input language for computers: Information is the output language for people.
  • Data is unprocessed facts and figures: Information is processed data given a context.
  • Data doesn't depend on information: Information depends on data without which there is nothing to process.
  • Data is not specific: Information is specific enough to have meaning.
  • Data is raw collected material: Information is detailed meaning generated from the data.
Data & Information Compared
Comparison Data Information
Definition Data are raw facts of limited value. Information is data which has been processed into a meaningful context.
Example Ticket sales at different venues. Sales report revealing the most popular and profitable venue.
Significance Data alone is not useful. Information is useful.

Data is really important and at the centre of the entire course. It's the main target for hackers to steal, damage or corrupt, so its important to be clear about what it is and how its different from information.

  1. Add a new page to your Data Security section. Title it Defining Data.
  2. Make a list of the key differences between data and information.
  3. Write down five pieces of separate data about your partner. - Make sure it's raw data and not information.
  4. Assemble those five pieces of data into information that tells you something about your partner which is true and makes sense.

Making sense of data, can be difficult, especially when there is bucket loads of it and the really important stuff is somewhere within it. If only you could see the pattern?

As it turns out, there's a whole science behind data visualisation, where the aim is to help uncover patterns in data and provide us with insight to what's goes on.

  1. Research data visualisation
  2. Find an unusual one and show the rest of the class in the group conversation space.
    1. Include the image.
    2. Attach of what you think the data visualisation shows.
    3. Explain why it might be useful to a hacker - think creatively
  3. For a bonus point name the program used to create the data visualisation.

Make sure you retain a copy in your notebook.


The image shows a number of interconnected people using different types of social media.

For a hacker, this is useful because it shows a route for a spoofing attack. They can see an individual and their friends, so they know who to pretend to be when they send an email or a message. And knowing their interest in a particular topic could also attach malware to a post with a good chance their target would open it giving them a back-door in.

Data Visualisation

The image was created with vizster, a social network data visualisation system.

Can you now do?

  • Explain how Data is assembled into Information.
  • Explain the term data visualisation.
  • Provide an examples of processed data that could reveal useful patterns to hackers.

If you don't feel confident in meeting any of these performance criteria, ask your teacher or re-read the information again.

Cyber Security

  • Security Fundamentals
  • Data Security
  • Digital Forensics
  • Ethical Hacking
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