Data Privacy Versus Data Security: A Closer Look

The terms, data privacy and data security, are often misunderstood and are being used interchangeably. However, they are two separate concepts! Data privacy focuses on how information is handled, stored and used, while data security is concerned with protecting your organization’s assets.
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The following blog is courtesy of Richard Reynoso, VP of Managed Services.

The importance of data privacy and data security has grown exponentially as organizations today collect and store more information than ever before. Having a robust data protection strategy is critical to safeguard confidential information and to ensure smooth functioning of your business.  But before we move on, let’s take a step back to understand the key concepts of data privacy and data security.  

The terms, data privacy and data security, are often misunderstood and are being used interchangeably. However, they are two separate concepts! Data privacy focuses on how information is handled, stored and used, while data security is concerned with protecting your organization’s assets.

Understanding Data Privacy

Data privacy deals with the regulations and practices to ensure data is responsibly handled. It includes how information is collected, processed, stored and disseminated. Any organization that collects and stores data or does business across the globe should comply with several privacy regulations, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and other privacy laws.

The aim of these regulations is to protect and enhance consumer and personal privacy. These rules give individuals the right to know what information is collected, why it’s collected and how it’s processed. As data privacy regulations are growing globally and becoming more complex, privacy requirements are also changing. Non-compliance to these laws could cost your business dearly. In 2019, Google was fined $57 million under the European Union’s GDPR law.

Importance of Data Privacy

Data privacy is an individual’s right to control who has access to personal information and how it should be used. This also protects personal information from being sold or redistributed to third parties. When organizations collect customers’ data, it is the organization’s responsibility to protect and preserve their clients’ sensitive information. Not having a privacy policy in place or failure to comply with privacy laws can lead to serious consequences, apart from legal actions and financial loss.

Understanding Data Security

Data security is the process of protecting information from unauthorized access, data corruption and data loss. A data security process includes various techniques, data management practices and technologies that act as defense mechanisms to protect data from internal and external threats.

Data security is concerned with what an organization does with the data collected, where and how the data is stored, and regulates who can access the information. A comprehensive data security strategy will help prevent data breaches, ensure business continuity and keep your company’s data safe from cyberthreats.

Importance of Data Security

The term “Data is the new oil,” coined by Clive Robert Humby in 2006, stands true in today’s competitive business environment. Data security is critical for the smooth functioning of day-to-day operations and running a business successfully. Failure to protect your organization’s confidential data can damage your brand’s value, result in regulatory penalties or shut down your business.

The alarming rate at which cyberattacks are growing has forced organizations of all sizes to consider data security as a top priority. It is estimated that organizational spending on cybersecurity will reach $123 billion in 2020.

Depending upon the purpose, type of industry or geographical location, your business can implement security compliance frameworks and international standards, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). These frameworks provide guidance and best practices for information security to help you assess IT security measures, manage risks, respond to security incidents and improve your information security management system.

Difference Between Data Privacy and Data Security

In simple terms, data privacy and data security are two sides of the same coin. They have distinct concepts but are closely related. Achieving data security doesn’t ensure data privacy and vice versa, but both are required to establish a comprehensive data protection strategy. Knowing the difference between these terms will help you strategize better, prevent data breaches and stay legally compliant.

Let’s distinguish the two concepts with a hypothetical example.

Assume you own a laptop, where you store personal information. To avoid people from accessing those files, you pasted a sticker on the cover that reads ‘Do Not Touch’. But in order to add an extra layer of privacy, in case people don’t read or ignore the sticker, you locked the computer with a secure password.

There are two things to note here. First, the ‘Do Not Touch’ sticker tells people to keep away from your laptop, thereby authorizing your privacy. Second, the password ensures no one can access your data, thereby protecting your data from unauthorized access.

How to Achieve Data Privacy and Security While Being Legally Compliant

Achieving data privacy and data security and complying with several laws have their own set of challenges. Even large organizations struggle to understand and implement the right security management and compliance measures.

But that shouldn’t be the same for your business. 

Focus time, money, and effort on what really matters

Let’s build success together. 

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