Data privacy and data security: Two sides of the same coin

In this digitally-connected world, both small and large businesses try to build customer trust. The manner in which data, especially personal and sensitive data, is accessed, stored and used by businesses plays a vital role in establishing this trust. To achieve customer trust, businesses should focus on data privacy by complying with applicable laws, such as the GDPR and CCPA, and address data security by tightening access and usage of data.

What’s the difference between data privacy and data security?

With both the GDPR and CCPA now in effect, it has become more important than ever for businesses to make sure that they understand the difference between data privacy and data security, how they work together, what they mean for the business, and how to address them efficiently together.

Data security is about protecting personal and sensitive data from any unauthorized access including unauthorized third-party access, malicious attacks and exploitation of data, through different forms of encryption, key management and authentication. 

 Data privacy is about the ethical handling, processing, storage and use of individuals’ personal and sensitive data. It is also about-individuals’ rights with respect to their personal data.

Why is understanding the difference between the two valuable?

Since the GDPR set in place protections and requirements regarding individuals’ data, it is critical for businesses to understand the differences between privacy and security. Let’s see what their differences means for the business:

Privacy Security
1. Implement privacy measures 
If businesses do not have adequate privacy measures in place to compliantly handle individuals’ data, such as maintaining a clear view of business processes and monitoring changes made to this data, then businesses are at risk of violating regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA. As a result, businesses could face fines and damage to their reputation.
1. Implement security measures
If businesses do not have proper security measures in place to protect data through multi-factor authentication, multi-device management, or identity management, then businesses could be at greater risk for a data breach. Data is the most critical business asset. If it becomes compromised, the business could suffer damage to their reputation.
2. Protecting personal data
It is important to safeguard individuals’ data from non-compliant data use and access. Businesses need to consider this type of data in their data access strategy and planning.
2. Protecting digital assets 
When it comes to cybersecurity, businesses need to secure their digital assets from harmful events such as human and technical errors, malicious software and unauthorized users access. Not securing personal and sensitive data can lead to the regulatory  fines.

Without adequate data privacy and data security measures in place, businesses could be in violation of regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA. Businesses have the responsibility of safeguarding this data from unauthorized access and use. The consequence of not safeguarding this data could result in regulatory fines and mistrust from customers who may opt to go with a competitor. Either consequence will have a significant impact on business revenue.

Who should be involved in the data privacy strategy?

When businesses understand the difference between data privacy and data security, they can use this knowledge to build customer trust. To apply this knowledge, the following roles often have to work together: Chief Data Officer (CDO), Chief Privacy Officer (CPO), Data Protection Officer (DPO), Legal Counsel, Chief Risk Officer (CRO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The CDO and CPO along with the DPO and Legal Counsel can build a data privacy strategy in alignment with the company’s cybersecurity strategy and business goals. The CDO and DPO may be responsible for aligning with and obtaining buy-in from the CRO and CISO. Next, the CDO and DPO can build a data privacy program roadmap to achieve short and long term goals.

To successfully implement the data privacy program roadmap, collaboration among the mentioned roles and their teams is required. They need to have a unified and unambiguous view on the related business processes, privacy assets, data assets, technologies and security.


Data privacy is about the ethical handling, processing, storage and use of individuals’ personal and sensitive data. Furthermore, it relates to the rights of individuals to control how their personal data is used. Data security, on the other hand, refers to how personal data is protected from unauthorized access.

Despite the differences between data privacy and data security, they are interconnected.  There is no data privacy without data security, and there is no data security without data privacy; they are the two sides of the same coin.


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