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Secure Data Protection

What’s the Difference Between Data Privacy vs. Data Security?

January 25, 2024

6 minutes

blue lock in digital computer background cybersecurity

While coffee and tea share some similarities, enthusiasts of either would argue that they’re wildly different. The same thinking can be applied to data privacy and data security; while there is some overlap, the two practices are unique to their functions within the larger cybersecurity framework.

In a broader context, data privacy regards how institutions and organizations handle consumer data as well as the relevant rights and regulations. On the other side of the coin, data security refers to the security practices put in place to protect data from unauthorized access, manipulation, use, and disclosure.

The following sections delve further into the details of both data privacy and data security, exploring the nuances of each, their differences, and their similarities.

Crafting a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that prioritizes data privacy, data security, and network security is best done with expert guidance. Get in touch with an expert at DOT Security to start revamping your security strategy today.

Data Privacy Vs. Data Security

Though often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between data privacy and data security in terms of how they apply to businesses.

data privacy vs data security

What Is Data Privacy?

As mentioned earlier, data privacy is how businesses treat the personal information of customers and employees. It’s concerned with how private information is handled, processed, gathered, stored, used, and shared between employers, vendors, and contractors.

In short, data privacy is more concerned with how sensitive personal information is used by the organizations that collects it, rather than how that data is being protected.

"The public increasingly says they don’t understand what companies are doing with their data. Some 67% say they understand little to nothing about what companies are doing with their personal data."

Businesses must pay close attention to data privacy to remain compliant with governmental regulations that dictate proper data handling processes. Just as important as compliance, though, is consumer trust.

“According to PCI Pal’s recent survey, in the US, 83% of consumers claim they will stop spending with a business for several months in the immediate aftermath of a security breach, and over a fifth (21%) of consumers claim they will never return to a business post-breach.”

While it is certainly possible to recover from a data breach or data leak, it’s much safer to do your best to remain compliant with universal and domestic regulations and avoid any disaster incidents in the first place.

One example of local regulations regarding consumer data is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which protects the rights of consumers in California by granting the following rights:

  • The right to know how their collected information is used and shared
  • The right to delete that personal information
  • The right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information
  • The right to non-discrimination when exercising these rights

Other established laws about data privacy include HIPAA, CPRA, and GDPR.

What Is Data Security?

Where data privacy manages how sensitive information is handled, data security focuses on protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access, corruption, theft, and destruction. As such, data security plays a vital role in a layered cybersecurity strategy.

“The average cost of a data breach has surged nearly 30% to $4.45 million per breach. Meanwhile, companies in the U.S. spend an average of $9.48 million per breach, according to the latest report.”

Security Intelligence, October 2023

Data security practices are achieved through a variety of cybersecurity tactics that function in unique ways to bolster the power of your cybersecurity defenses, including:

These security protocols are designed to ensure that the sensitive data your company stores is protected from modern cyber threats, data leaks, and unauthorized access or corruption, in turn protecting your network and your most valuable assets: employees and clients who trusted you with their data.

Dialing in on the Differences

The main difference between data privacy and data security isn’t the goal, but the tools and strategies used to achieve that goal. Data privacy focuses on policies that dictate how institutions handle data through things like governmental regulations, laws, and organizational compliance standards.

In contrast, data security implements security protocols and defensive mechanisms throughout the network that are designed to actually keep any sensitive data stored under lock and key.

While the two are separate forms of data management that require their own protocols, policies, and maintenance, they intertwine with the common goal of protecting consumer and client data.

Why Data Privacy and Data Security are Important

Both data privacy and data security are critically important for businesses to address.

Lacking data privacy can be detrimental to businesses because any wrongful use can result in non-compliance with regulations which leads to fines and other potential legal consequences. Additionally, selling or collecting customer data without their consent can cause an erosion of trust and public reputational harm that, in the days of social media, can be a difficult thing to shake off.

Data security is also important because it creates the practical defense mechanisms that help to prevent malicious actions from unauthorized users, cyberattacks, and data corruption.

Consistently updating data security strategies will help to mitigate how much your cybersecurity risk grows over time, and give you the best available protection against modern, sophisticated cyberattacks. A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that prioritizes both data privacy and data security is the best defense there is against data theft, corruption, leakage, and unauthorized access.

Final Thoughts on Data Privacy vs. Data Security

While both data security and data privacy work together to ensure the proper handling and protection of customer and client data, these are two different branches of the overarching cybersecurity framework.

Maintaining compliance with industry regulations and installing a variety of security measures like multi-factor authentication and data encryption will help you keep sensitive information right where it belongs, safe and sound within your network.

Get in touch with a cybersecurity expert from DOT Security for the expert advice needed to strengthen your cybersecurity posture and data security practices.