Data Privacy vs. Data Security: What's the Difference?

Data Security
5 min read
James Mignacca
May 11, 2022
James Mignacca
May 11, 2022
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Organizations that collect, process and store personal data are responsible for both how it is used, and how it is protected. To do this effectively, data security and data privacy strategies must be implemented into company processes.

When it comes to data privacy and data security, however, we frequently hear the two terms used interchangeably. While there are, of course, similarities between the two terms, there are some fundamental differences that make it crucial for your data protection strategy to be able to differentiate the two.

With that in mind, in this blog we define both terms, and take a look at the differences between the two.

What is data privacy

Data privacy refers specifically to how personal data is collected and used, including the proper handling of that data, data processing, data storage and how that personal information is used by your organization.

As a result, data privacy often revolves around data privacy compliance with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US, or the Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD) in Brazil.

Which data privacy regulations your organization will be required to comply with will depend on where you do business and where you collect personally identifiable information (PII).

Data privacy is less about protecting data from malicious threats, and more about ensuring you comply with local regulations that dictate how private information can be collected, used, stored and processed.

Data privacy best practices

What is data security?

Data security is the focus on protecting personal data from being accessed by unauthorized and malicious cyber threats. Data security is made up of policies and procedures that protect your company’s sensitive information from being accessed by cybercriminals.

In addition, data security policies also help protect your business’ sensitive information from internal threats and human error, which are actually the leading causes of data breaches today.

Data security best practices

  • Implementing data loss prevention strategies.
  • Using encryption to protect data.
  • Using authentication and authorization control for access to data.
  • Using technologies such as firewalls, antivirus software and endpoint protection.
  • Understanding what data your business has and where it is stored.

What is the difference between data privacy and data security?

Companies have two obligations for how they protect data. Firstly, they must secure the data they collect from being accessed by outside threats, and, secondly, they must protect how the organization uses the data it collects from consumers.

For example, if a business were to sell PII to a third-party company without consumer permission, that’s a violation of the consumers’ privacy. If the same company was to suffer a data breach that exposed PII to cybercriminals, that’s a security failure that also violates the consumers’ privacy.

Both of these are examples of a company violating the consumers’ privacy rights, but for two different reasons. In its simplest form, data security is about protecting data from malicious and unauthorized threats, while data privacy is about using personal data responsibly.

Why is it important to understand these differences?

It’s crucial that companies understand the differences between data privacy and data security for two reasons; firstly to comply with data privacy in the countries that you operate and collect data, and, secondly, to ensure you have the procedures and policies in place to mitigate the risk of cybercrime.

Data security and data privacy fall under the same umbrella, but differentiating them is a crucial component of ensuring you have the right strategies in place.

The combination of both data security and data privacy is important to mitigate the risk of data breaches, theft of PII and misuse of sensitive data. When both strategies are effective, your business will avoid violating privacy regulations and lessen the opportunity for data breaches.

Interested in learning more about data privacy, data security and how they both contribute to your company’s overall data protection strategy? Watch a demo of Cavelo today. We’ve developed an innovative platform that gives organizations complete visibility into what data they have, where it lives and who has access to it - supporting both data security, and data privacy.

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