What Does CompTIA Order Of Volatility Include?

What is the CompTIA order of volatility in the  Security+ test? What does it include? We'll go through each of these questions in-depth in this article.

Updated at April 19, 2024

As a seasoned IT professional, you are likely aware of the criticality of being cognizant of the intricacies of the CompTIA Order of Volatility. This seminal framework provides a roadmap for the proper ordering of backup and recovery protocols, incident response strategies, and information security measures. The objective of this article is to delve deeper into the importance of the CompTIA Order of Volatility, providing you with an in-depth guide that you can use as a reference in your work. Let’s dive in!

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What is the CompTIA Order of Volatility?

CompTIA – a prestigious, non-profit trade association – offers vendor-neutral certifications to IT professionals, authenticating their mastery in a plethora of fields ranging from security and networking to cloud computing and beyond. The globally recognized certifications are crafted to aid professionals in elevating their careers and propelling forward in their respective domains. Additionally, CompTIA provides comprehensive training, resources, and support services to assist IT experts in preparing for certification exams, as well as staying up-to-date with the newest technologies and industry-recommended practices.

The CompTIA Order of Volatility is an essential framework that defines the priority of data elements critical to an organization’s preservation and protection. This comprehensive list serves as a reference for IT professionals when it comes to backing up and recovering data, responding to incidents, and implementing IT security measures.

comptia order of volatility

Overview of CompTIA Order of Volatility

The CompTIA Order of Volatility consists of five categories: System State, Running Configuration, User Data, Security Data, and Historical Data. 

  • System State: refers to the current status of a computer system, including the operating system and application files. 
  • Running Configuration: refers to the current settings of a computer system or network, including network configurations and firewall rules. 
  • User Data: refers to data created or maintained by users, such as documents, emails, and databases. 
  • Security Data: refers to information related to security and access controls, such as usernames, passwords, and encryption keys. 
  • Historical Data: refers to data that is no longer active or in use, but still needs to be preserved for compliance or regulatory purposes.

Why it is important in IT

The CompTIA Order of Volatility is critical to the IT world because it provides a structured approach to preserving and protecting an organization’s most crucial data elements. By prioritizing the data elements, IT professionals can ensure they protect the most critical data first, even in the event of a data loss or security breach. 

This prioritization also helps IT professionals allocate resources more effectively, as they can focus their efforts on the most critical data elements first. In essence, the CompTIA Order of Volatility is a vital tool for IT professionals to ensure that their organization’s critical data remains secure and protected at all times.

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How the Order of Volatility is Used in IT

The CompTIA Order of Volatility is a valuable asset for information technology specialists, serving as a guide in various crucial aspects such as data backup, recovery, incident response, and security.

Priority Data Backup and Recovery

The order of volatility aids IT professionals in identifying the order of importance of data backup and recovery. In the face of a data loss, the priority must be to restore the most critical data first in order to mitigate harm to business operations. For instance, volatile data like RAM and system state information may take precedence over less critical data such as logs and backups, which can be restored later.

Swift Incident Response

The Order of Volatility proves useful in incident response as well. IT professionals can use it to determine their response order, safeguarding and restoring the most critical systems and data first. For example, in the instance of a cyberattack, volatile data such as system state information is of prime importance for recovery, while less critical data like logs and backups can be recovered later.

IT Security Strategy

The Order of Volatility also holds relevance in IT security. IT professionals can use it to strategize their security efforts and secure the most critical systems and data first. For example, volatile data like RAM and system state information may be the primary target of cyberattacks, hence must be protected first, while less critical data such as backups may be a secondary concern.

The CompTIA Order of Volatility Explained

The CompTIA Order of Volatility gives IT professionals a roadmap for safeguarding data and reacting to security incidents. This framework is divided into 5 categories, each symbolizing a different degree of volatility.

  • Volatile Data: This category encompasses information that exists only in temporary memory and vanishes as soon as power is turned off.  Being stored only in temporary memory, this type of information is the most critical to backup and recovery in case of a disaster. Examples of this type of data include the contents of RAM, page files, and system cache.
  • Semi-Volatile Data: Information stored on disk but subject to loss in specific circumstances, such as power failure, falls under this category. Some examples are system logs, file metadata, and the registry.
  • Non-Volatile Data: Data that remains saved on disk even after the power is turned off belongs to this category. Examples include user data, applications, files, and directories.
  • Data at Rest: Data stored on disk but not in use falls under this category. Examples include encrypted files, archives, and backups.
  • Data in Motion: Data transmitted over a network constitutes this category. Some examples are email, instant messages, and file transfers.

Best Practices for Adhering to the Order of Volatility

IT professionals must grasp the significance of the CompTIA Order of Volatility and put into practice optimal techniques for data backup and recovery, incident response, and IT security measures. By adhering to these best practices, companies can diminish the effects of data loss or security breaches and guarantee the persistence of their operations.

Prioritizing Data Backup and Recovery Efforts

Data backup and recovery must take center stage for IT professionals. The Order of Volatility aids in prioritizing data backup and recovery by determining the most critical data that needs to be backed up first. The most crucial data is referred to as volatile data, which are data that alter rapidly and frequently, such as system configurations and dynamic data. IT professionals can apply the following best practices to prioritize data backup and recovery:

  • Automate Backup and Recovery Processes: Automating backup and recovery processes guarantees that the most critical data is backed up on a frequent basis and retrieved swiftly in the event of a disaster.
  • Test Backup and Recovery Procedures: Regular testing of backup and recovery procedures allows IT professionals to identify and resolve any issues with the backup and recovery process prior to a disaster.
  • Store Backups Off-Site: Storing backups away from the primary location protects the data and enables recovery, even if the primary data center is unavailable or destroyed.

Incident Response Strategies

Incident response strategies play a vital role in reducing the impact of data loss or security breaches. The Order of Volatility helps IT professionals prioritize incident response efforts by identifying the most critical data that needs to be safeguarded first. IT professionals can implement the following best practices for incident response:

  • Create an Incident Response Plan: Having an incident response plan in place ensures that IT professionals are ready to respond promptly and effectively to data loss or security breaches.
  • Train Staff on Incident Response Procedures: Regular training of staff on incident response procedures ensures that every individual in the organization is prepared to respond to a disaster.
  • Conduct Regular Incident Response Drills: Regular incident response drills help IT professionals detect and rectify any issues with the incident response plan prior to a disaster.

IT Security Measures

IT security measures are vital for safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of data. The Order of Volatility helps IT professionals prioritize IT security measures by identifying the most critical data that needs protection first. IT professionals can apply the following best practices for IT security:

  • Implement Access Controls: Access controls guarantee that only authorized users have access to critical data.
  • Encrypt Sensitive Data: Encrypting sensitive data ensures that the data remains confidential and protected, even if it is lost or stolen.

Conduct Regular Security Audits: Regular security audits help IT professionals identify and rectify any security vulnerabilities in the organization’s IT systems.

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The bottom line

The CompTIA Order of Volatility is a critical component of any IT professional’s toolkit. By prioritizing data backup and recovery, incident response, and IT security measures, IT professionals can ensure that their organizations are always prepared for any eventuality, be it a data loss or security breach. It is our strong recommendation that all IT professionals familiarize themselves with the principles of the CompTIA Order of Volatility and make its implementation a top priority in their organizations.

Don’t leave the safety and security of your company’s data to chance – understand the CompTIA Order of Volatility and put it into practice. With its combination of complexity and variation, you’ll be able to respond with confidence to any IT challenge that comes your way.