In data protection, the two significant terms used within the industry are Data security and Data privacy. These two terms are mistaken for each other, but it is essential to make a distinction between both terms. Although both concepts have the common objective of protecting confidential data, the approaches they use to achieve the same effect are completely different. Companies live constant fear of data breaches due to the damage it causes to their reputation and legal issues. This fear, therefore, ensures that many companies spend a large chunk on data security. However, this is not enough as data privacy is equally important. Data privacy revolves around the use and management of personal data. Such data could include personal information such as financial details, health, education, and criminal history.

Distinguishing these two terms will help you understand the full scope of data management and enable us to make the right decisions regarding data assets. What you should keep in mind is that security protects data and privacy protects identity.

What is data security

Data security can be referred to as different digital protective measures that are used by organizations to prevent breaches and unauthorized access to data on their database. It is also known as Information security and is considered an important aspect of most organizations’ information technology sections. Data security protects data from possible breaches or attacks on the database and from possible corruption throughout its life cycle.

Some of the key concepts within data security include data encryption, tokenization, and key management practices that help protect data across all applications and platforms in an organization. Techniques such as encryption are used to provide security against such attacks. In encryption, the original message is modified according to a key, and without the key, the hacker would be unable to read the message. Only the parties provided receive the key via a secure channel. Data security, therefore, means ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data using various technologies.

Difference between Data Security and Data Privacy what is data security | Technology

What is data privacy

On the other hand, data privacy is responsible for ensuring that the data, whether processed, stored, or transmitted, are consumed according to regulations and standards. In addition, data privacy also ensures that these data can be manipulated under the consent of whoever owns them. In other words, every citizen has the fundamental right to protect their privacy against possible violations. Companies and organizations also have the duty to ensure that the personal data collected from their clients are protected.

So privacy is less about protecting data from external threats but more about how the data is used responsibly within the organization in accordance with local regulations. This does not mean that high-level security measures are not implemented. However, data privacy is more in tune with the company’s authorization policies and needs to be enforced within to prevent breaches and non-compliance.

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Key differences between data security and privacy

  • Data security provides a mechanism to verify the identity of the user or process to allow the use of the system. On the other hand, Data privacy controls access to system resources.
  • Data security is a generic term in which more complex queries are processed while Data privacy is subject to data security and deals with less complex problems.
  • Data security policy indicates whether a person is authorized to use the system or not. However, the data privacy policy specifies which user can access the specific resource (for example, the file).
  • Data privacy involves the type of internal threat, while for security, external threats are also involved.
  • Authorization is a major aspect of the data privacy mechanism. On the contrary, the data security mechanism authenticates and encrypts the user or uses different processes to reinforce data integrity.

Difference between Data Security and Data Privacy data security and privacy | Technology

Data privacy Vs. data security in practice

Let’s take a look at Data privacy and security in practice. Assuming you download software on your computer. Before installing the software you would be obliged to read a privacy agreement and accept it before proceeding with the installation. During the installation, the software could request access to personal data such as your location, browsing history, and access to certain files. Once you have assented to these requests, it becomes the responsibility of the software company to secure your data and protect your privacy.

Unfortunately, this does not happen often with violation of privacy a common occurrence. In a situation where the software developers decide to sell your personal information to third party companies, that constitutes a violation of privacy. Also, if the company suffers a major breach where hackers are able to access your data, then this can be considered as both a breach of security. However, if the stolen information is used by hackers, it becomes a breach of privacy. We can, therefore, say that privacy reduces access to data, and security is the system that ensures that privacy is secured. Without security, there is no privacy, and privacy protects your identity.

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Data security vs data privacy in compliance

It is important to understand that there are some major regulations that have been set aside to regulate data security and data privacy. We would be looking at two of these regulations as a way of distinguishing between the two terms.


PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. In other words, they are data security standards geared towards the credit/debit card industry. This standard helps ensure the security of credit card transactions. Its basis consists of operations that contribute to the protection of privacy and the assurance of card data. Any provider that engages in card processing and transactions must comply with this standard. Failure to do so can have various legal consequences, due to the delicate nature of each of the millions of transactions generated daily.

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  • GDPR

The emphasis on privacy and protection of personal data has risen following the approval of the European council in 2016 with the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR unifies and standardizes all the criteria of the different European legislation on data protection and obliges all companies and entities operating within the EU to comply with the same legislation. Since its approval in 2016, GDPR has been the major standard used by countries across Europe to regulate data privacy.

Difference between Data Security and Data Privacy data security GDRP | Technology

Integrating privacy and security is essential, but complicated

Think about a particular data you think is solidly protected as it is encrypted; access is restricted with multiple overlapping monitoring systems. In every meaningful sense, the data is secure, but when you add privacy to the mix, it gets a little complicated. For example, while your customer service agent may have access to your account details after reviewing some security questions, privacy will not allow the same person to verify a family member’s account, despite the fact that you have access to the information.

Difference between Data Security and Data Privacy scurity laptop | Technology

In conclusion, privacy and data security are interconnected, and both are extremely important, but we must approach them differently. As a reminder, security focuses on the technology and tools necessary to protect our information, such as credit cards, bank accounts, etc. While, privacy refers to compliance with local, federal, and non-industry laws that guarantee that the collection and use of such data comply with what is required by law.