Iubenda logo
Start generating


Table of Contents

Data Security vs Data Privacy: What’s the Difference?

Data security vs data privacy? They don’t have the same meaning. But! They’re equally important. As a business, you should make sure to have a clear understanding of these two terms and why they are so crucial (from a legal and business perspective).

👀 In this article, we define what data security and data privacy are, what differentiates them, and the reasons why they matter.

data security vs data privacy

Data Privacy vs Data Security: Understanding Data Privacy

In the past 10 years, collecting consumer data has become the norm for companies, providing them with unique insights on potential and existing customers, and allowing marketing activities to be more customized, targeted, and efficient (think of ads, emails, etc.)

Privacy concerns quickly arose and called for the need to protect this data and give power back to individuals.

Data privacy is concerned withprotecting individuals’ rights to control their own personal information, and decide whether it can be collected, used and shared by companies, or not.

💡 Personal data includes IP address, name, phone number, email address, and many other identifying details. Sensitive information like financial or health records is also covered and even more protected.

Some data privacy measures that were introduced include:

  • data minimization principle 👉 to collect the minimum amount necessary for a specific purpose;
  • user consent 👉 where individuals must opt in before you collect, use or share their data (think of the cookie banner, or the checkboxes on a contact form) – individuals must also have the ability to opt out (right to withdraw), i.e. of an email list;
  • the right to be informed 👉 you should inform users of all the detail of data collection activities in a straightforward and complete privacy policy document;
  • additional rights 👉 such as the right to access, correct, or delete their personal information.

Some important laws and regulations have been put in place for enforcing all of the above, you most likely have already heard of the GDPR in Europe.

🔍 Check out this quick overview of privacy laws:

🇺🇸 In the US

🇪🇺 In Europe

Data Privacy vs Data Security: Understanding Data Security

Data security, on the other hand, is the practice of protecting data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction.

It applies to the same types of data mentioned before, but sensitive personal information is particularly at risk if exposed, and requires high levels of data security.

💡 Data security is at stake when data breaches (increasingly common in today’s digital age), sensitive data exposures happen. Consequences are severe, ranging from financial losses to reputational damage and legal liability.

Some data security measures include:

What is the Difference Between Data Privacy and Data Security?

Data security vs data privacy: they are related concepts, but they are not the same thing!

  1. Data security focuses on protecting data from unauthorized access, such as data breaches – measures must be put in place to limit risks when handling this data, that has already been collected;
  2. Data privacy’s main goal is to protect an individual’s rights in regard to their own personal data – measures must be put in place to give individuals the power to decide if and how their data is used.

3 Reasons Why Both Security and Privacy are Essential for your Business

Needless to say that both these concepts are crucial in various contexts, especially when collecting personal data as a business. Plus, it’s a win-win situation. Why? Let’s take a look!

📌 With data security, lower the risk of data being exposed

Data breaches can create a lot of damage. To individuals first, and businesses alike. There are important financial losses associated with them, as well as a strong influence on reputation. Nothing good comes out of a data breach of millions of financial information (credit card etc.)!

📌 With data privacy, respect your customers’ rights

If you decide to make data privacy at the center of what you do, you can only benefit from it! Customers will be more willing to trust you and potentially agree to the use of their data, to sign up to your newsletter, if they are well-informed and know they can decide at any moment to opt-out. And that they won’t have any bad surprises.

📌 Last but not least… avoid risk of lawsuits and fines!

As mentioned before, data privacy laws have been introduced in the past years around the world and companies have had to comply with them and put in place a number of organizational measures.

💡 In practice, this means that a business that has a website must comply with privacy laws if it collects personal data (which it most likely does, considering IP addresses are personal data). Check out this 5-min website compliance guide.

If you don’t comply, you risk fines!

Not sure what privacy laws actually apply to you?

Do this free 1-min quiz to find out