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Data Security vs Data Privacy: Two Sides of the Same Coin



Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series is a collection of contributed articles written by thought leaders in enterprise software categories. Dotan Nahum of Check Point examines how data security and data privacy are two sides of the same coin, and why you should invest in both.

Let’s cast our minds back to 2018, when the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal changed the world forever. It revealed years of data misuse and pulled back the curtain on the realities of information security, privacy, and ownership in Big Tech – something that many everyday users understandably found hard to grasp.

Fast forward to our post-pandemic era, where remote working and macroeconomic uncertainty have pushed businesses to cloud environments and digital transformation at lightning speed. While this acceleration has been excellent for business growth (and making it through the landmine of unexpected global events), data protection has taken a backseat.

But with the scars of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica story still running deep, customers have a zero-tolerance policy for failures to respect data regulations and the avalanche of apologies that might go with them. Yet, why do 75 percent of IT experts still worry about compliance standards? Is this a sign that we are not effectively baking data privacy and security into our businesses, despite continued concerns and scrutiny?

Data Security vs Data Privacy: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Defining the core objectives of each concept is the first step in understanding them. Data security primarily revolves around the protection of data from unauthorized access, breaches, and threats. It encompasses technologies, practices, and protocols to ensure that data remains confidential, intact, and available to those with legitimate access, including but not limited to encryption and threat detection systems.

On the other hand, data privacy concerns itself with the lawful and ethical handling of personal information, verifying that individuals’ data rights are respected. As well as technical measures and administrative protocols, data privacy uses physical controls like keycards, biometrics, and workplace surveillance to protect against cyber-attacks and human error.

Data privacy and security are far from mutually exclusive. Together, they create a holistic approach to safeguarding data, ensuring that it is both secure from unauthorized access and used in a way that respects individual rights and privacy. Failure to do so can severely damage your organization’s reputation and erode trust. After all, customers are more likely to share information when their data is handled securely and ethically, demonstrating that these two fields are two sides of the same coin.

Dissecting the Nuances and Differences

Technology-Centric vs. Compliance-Centric

Data security leans heavily on technical measures to safeguard data, relying on tools and strategies like encryption, vulnerability scanning, and patch management to fortify the digital citadel and protect data from hackers and malicious actors. In contrast, data privacy places a significant emphasis on compliance with laws and regulations to ensure the ethical handling of data. Some of these processes include data anonymization and breach reporting to ensure compliance with various regulations, including:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Preventing Breaches vs. Protecting Individual Rights

Where the primary goal of data security is to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access (such as thwarting cyber-attacks and maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data), data privacy seeks to protect individuals’ rights by ensuring that their personal data is collected, processed, and stored in a way that respects privacy laws and regulations.

Technical vs. Policy-Oriented

Data security often involves implementing and managing technical solutions, including firewalls, encryption, and threat detection systems. For example, adopting solutions that continuously scan and monitor known and unknown assets to stop data breaches before they happen. Data privacy is more policy-oriented, requiring you to establish clear policies and procedures for data handling, access, and consent management.

All Data Types vs. PII

Thanks to the rise of IoT devices and eCommerce, digital interactions are the societal norm, quietly encouraging users to leave an extensive trail of information in their wake. All data types fall under the umbrella of data security, whether it’s financial records, intellectual property, or customer databases. However, data privacy is particularly concerned with handling personally identifiable information (PII) and sensitive personal data (used to identify, contact, or locate an individual) in compliance with privacy regulations.

Interlinked Yet Distinct

Often, the two come as a package deal whether an organization recognizes the synergy or not. For example, privacy regulations mandate robust security measures to prove that businesses are doing their utmost to keep data safe; trust in data handling is contingent on both aspects, as breaches erode confidence and reputations. Access controls and encryption establish the foundation of data security by limiting data access to authorized users only. Concurrently, data security mechanisms like firewalls, intrusion detection, and regular security audits fortify data privacy defenses, shielding information from potential vulnerabilities and cyber-attacks.

The challenge of effective data protection doesn’t lie in prioritization or splitting your resources between privacy and security measures – it lies in understanding that they go hand in hand.

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