The importance of cybersecurity has been growing exponentially over the last decade. Today, between persistent threats from cyberattacks such as malware and intrusions, accidental or intentional data loss, and data security regulations that impose stiff penalties on companies who ignore their data stewardship responsibilities, data security and privacy remain the hottest of hot topics for IT professionals worldwide.
However, even IT pros are not clear about the differences between data privacy and data security. This blog will explain what those terms have in common and what sets them apart from each other.
What Is Data Privacy?
Data privacy is ensuring that information is not accessed by unauthorized parties and that individuals retain control over their personally identifiable information (PII). Therefore, it is primarily concerned with the procedures and policies that govern the collection, storage and use of PII and proprietary corporate information, such as trade secrets, personnel and internal processes. PII stands out as highly sensitive information because of the civil and criminal liability companies and individuals face if they allow PII to be improperly exposed, whether due to overt actions or inadvertent data security lapses.
Ensuring data privacy requires more than a particular set of techniques or technologies. It also involves training every employee with access to sensitive data on the approved data protection processes. Just as an airplane pilot uses checklists to ensure that critical items are reviewed before flight and monitored during flight, IT pros must also be able and willing to use data privacy policies and other resources to ensure the privacy of PII and other sensitive data.
Breaches of data privacy are no longer just embarrassing or inconvenient for organizations. Now, privacy laws like as HIPAA and the GDPR impose penalties for failure to safeguard the privacy of PII and other highly sensitive personal information. These compliance standards can impose financial sanctions and even criminal charges for intentional and sometimes even unintentional exposure of PII. HIPAA is focused on the protection of healthcare-related personal data in the U.S., while the GDPR imposes a broader set of privacy standards and regulatory compliance requirements on any company that stores or processes the PII of EU residents.
What Is Data Security?
Whereas data privacy is implemented through a set of policies and procedures designed to safeguard the privacy of data, data security involves using physical and logical strategies to protect information from data breaches, cyberattacks, and accidental or intentional data loss.
Specifically, data security is the technologies and techniques that companies use to prevent:
- Unauthorized access
- Intentional loss of sensitive data
- Accidental loss or corruption of sensitive data
Examples of measures for ensuring data security include resilient data storage technologies, encryption of data both at rest and in motion, physical and logical access controls that prevent unauthorized access, data masking, and secure elimination of sensitive data that is no longer needed. Specific techniques include multi-factor authentication, multiple layers of access control at the network and application layer, and the detection and isolation of unauthorized devices as soon as they attach to a network. Regular backups and tested disaster recovery plans are also a big part of data security.
In short, data security is architected by a technologically sophisticated, holistic approach that secures every network, application, device and data repository in an enterprise IT infrastructure.
Data Privacy vs. Data Security