Data Security and Data Privacy: Know the Difference and Why it Matters

Modern organizations collect and manage huge amounts of data. The security of the private data they own is of immense importance and can not be brushed aside. Fundamentally sensitive data such as identities, health records, finances, etcetera needs to be protected.

Numerous malicious actors and cybercriminals are waiting for the slightest of security loopholes. You give them space and they can potentially ruin your entire business by stealing astonishing amounts of your sensitive data.

Data security and data privacy both are extremely important for all organizations. Irrespective of their size and industry. However, people generally do not recognize or understand the difference between the two. They use data security and data privacy interchangeably, which is fundamentally incorrect.

In this post, we will walk you through the difference between data security and data privacy. We will also understand why it is important and what are some of the key tips for your organization to ensure data security and privacy.

List of Contents:

What is Data Security

Protecting your personal or business data against any unauthorized access by a third-party, exploitation, or other malicious attacks is known as data security. It is primarily concerned with preventing unapproved access to data, through data leaks or breaches, irrespective of who the unauthorized user is.

Data security ensures data accuracy, reliability, and availability to approved entities. In short, it is responsible for upholding the integrity of the data.

From physical security of hardware storage devices to access and administrative control of data, data security encompasses all facets of information protection. It also covers logically securing all the software applications.

Some of the most common data security methods, practices, or processes include:

  • Access Control
  • Network Security
  • Activity Monitoring
  • Data Erasure
  • Breach Response
  • Data Masking
  • Multi-factor Authentication
  • Data Encryption

A robust data security strategy is critical to protect your company’s information assets against cybercriminal activities, insider threats, and human errors. It ensures all the required technologies and tools are deployed to provide you a clear vision of where your critical information resides and how it is used.

What is Data Privacy?

Data privacy also referred to as information privacy, is concerned with appropriate handling, storing, processing, and using personal information. It is all about using personal data responsibly. It is the right of individuals to have proper visibility into how their personal data is collected and used.

It is one of the most prominent consumer protection issues in the modern age of data. The increasing technological sophistication and the types of data being collected today contribute a lot to this growing issue.

The following are the most common concerns related to data privacy:

Privacy is guaranteed under the constitution in many developed as well as developing nations. It is an individual’s right to freedom against prying or intrusion. It is a fundamental human right and an essential principle of human dignity.

Therefore, data privacy requires your organization to use your consumer’s information responsibly and in compliance with various laws or regulations laid out by the governing authorities. You need to use the data in accordance with your users’ wishes and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Understanding the Difference Between Data Privacy and Data Security

Data security and data privacy, by no means, are the same. Data security is about employing protection methods, policies, and measures to secure personal data. Whereas, data privacy deals with the appropriate collection, usage, storage, retention, and deletion of data.

The difference is simple and fundamental to understand. It can be perceived through as simple a routine activity as you using your email. The password you use for your account ensures your data security, while how the service provider handles your private data defines data privacy.

The terms are used interchangeably too often. However, they are different. Data privacy is less about protecting information against various threats than it is about responsibly handling the data. While data security is more concerned with securing data against cyberattacks, unauthorized access, data leaks, etcetera, compared to complying with policies that define appropriately managing the data.

Let’s discuss a hypothetical situation to have a more clear understanding of the difference. Say you are downloading an application on your smartphone and you are prompted with a privacy agreement that you must consent to before using the application. That is followed by various access permissions to access information such as contacts, location, or pictures, etcetera, stored on your device. Once you give these permissions, it is the responsibility of the service owner to uphold the privacy of your data.

Now, suppose an employee from the company sells your information to a marketing firm or a third-party without your consent, then it is a breach of your privacy. However, if the company itself suffers a data breach wherein all its information (including your private information) is exposed to cybercriminals, it is a breach of both data security as well as data privacy.

Though they are different, some significant points are common between them. You can imagine them as a Venn diagram having a significant common portion. That said, your organization must have different sets of strategies to handle each.

The difference between them doesn’t necessarily mean you can have one without the other. If you do not have a robust data security plan, you can hardly ensure data privacy. However, what it does mean is that you need to look at them separately to ensure all the issues related to them are addressed appropriately.

Why Does Understanding the Difference Matter?

There are numerous legalities involved in protecting consumer’s data and privacy. Hence, you need to understand the implications of not understanding or addressing issues related to them. Understanding the difference between data security and data privacy helps you identify and tackle various concerns related to both.

Data Security and Data Privacy Tips

It is important for your organization to ensure the security of data and simultaneously protect your consumers’, partners’, employees’, or any other involved entity’s private information. In a hypercompetitive business setup, you cannot afford a security breach or data privacy violation. It not only damages the reputation of your organization but also has severe financial implications that are difficult to survive.

“Almost 60% of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) go out of business within six months of being hacked.”

The following are some of the most common measures that you can employ to ensure data security and privacy:

1. Keep yourself updated about information security and compliance

You must have a thorough understanding of regulatory compliances like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), etcetera. It helps you identify the rules you must comply with for ensuring the privacy and protection of sensitive digital assets.

Also, familiarize yourself with all the IT policies and procedures of your organization. It is important to understand everything related to data security, privacy, and confidentiality.

2. Incorporate robust security processes

Make use of sophisticated security measures like data encryption, access control, and multi-factor authentication, etcetera. Using multi-factor authentication provides additional layers of security to your logins. It makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to get access to your accounts.

3. Use updated antivirus software

It is not only the hackers you must be worried about while protecting your data. There can be various malware that can infect your systems and damage your data. Using up-to-date antivirus applications ensures protection against such malware.

4. Beware of spear phishing attacks

Do not fall prey to spear-phishing attackers or scammers. The most common form of these attacks is emails containing malicious links.

5. Using a secure, private network

While using public WiFi seems fun, it can be dangerous to your business. You should only access your business data or account using a secure, private network. Also, make sure that you are using a strong security protocol like WPA2.

6. Protect personal data on social media platforms

Limit your usage to social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Also, make sure that you do not share any personal information on these platforms. Sharing such information makes it easier for hackers and cybercriminals to steal your identity and cause serious damage to your data.

7. Organize employee awareness drives

Every employee of yours needs to understand how important it is to safeguard your business data and simultaneously maintain the privacy of your consumers’ information. Plan employee training programs where each of your employees is made aware of all the data security and privacy policies of the company.

Also, train them to report any untoward activity to the concerned authority as soon as it takes place. This will help you respond to the situation quickly and prevent the organization from the bigger jolt.

The Bottom Line

Protecting your organization’s data while also adhering to the information privacy policies laid out by the governing authorities is important for several reasons. While data security and data privacy are different, they are both equally important for you to address.

The consumer trust that your company takes years to build might turn to rubble within moments. It takes great effort and commitment to maintain your brand value created in the market while also ensuring significant growth.

It is therefore important to have a deeper understanding of both data security and data privacy. Knowing the difference between them help you effectively manage issues related to them. This goes a long way in the successful journey of your business.

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