What Is the Difference Between Data Security and Data Privacy?

Protecting customer data is key to building a trusting B2C relationship. Learn how data protection and data security differ.

Oct 25, 2020 - 2 min.

Every time we create a user account with a new online platform, an app, or a brand, we knowingly provide bits of information about ourselves. On the one hand, this helps the company or service provider verify our identity and confirm who has access to its services and our data. On the other hand, it makes it possible for them to provide us with unique and personalized experiences based on our personal tastes and preferences. Ultimately, this active and deliberate sharing of data is beneficial for both parties. Companies learn more about consumers, and consumers get tailored recommendations and tips.

However, once companies start collecting, storing, analyzing, and processing personal user data, they also have a professional and legal responsibility to guarantee certain levels of protection. And with news about data breaches and misuse making headlines, consumers are more aware and demanding than ever when it comes to how their data is handled. They expect complete transparency when it comes to data collection and usage. They are also wary to share personal information without fully understanding why it is required and how it will be used. They need to know that companies are committed to protecting their valuable data.

Understanding the Demands of Data Savvy Customers

Offering a great product is no longer enough. A major part of fostering the B2C relationship is establishing trust and building confidence in your brand by providing data security AND data privacy. But what exactly is the difference?

Data Security:

Data leaks and spills, hacking, identity theft, cybercrime. These are all the results of a serious lapse in data security. Ensuring the security of personal and company data means guaranteeing that no third party gains unauthorized access to company and customer data. One of the most common methods of data security is password protection. Nowadays, many companies are also opting for more secure methods than user-selected passwords, like biometric identification access (with a fingerprint or face scan) and multi-factor authentication. Anti-virus software and encryption are also common tools for keeping data safe and out of the wrong hands.

Data Privacy:

Consent management, privacy settings, access permissions. These are the key features of a solid data privacy strategy. When ensuring data privacy, the service provider or company gathering and storing data promise not to misuse it by, for example: selling or distributing personal data, tracking clients using their location data, illegally storing personal information, etc. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed in 2018 has provided critical guidelines to help companies manage user permissions and customer consent properly and inform users about their rights and what to expect when it comes to their personal data.

Understanding Data Obligations

Ultimately, data privacy is also a form of data security. The fundamental difference between the two is that data security is about protecting data from external parties, and data privacy is about protecting data from the companies and service providers storing and collecting it.  This means: you can not provide true data security without guaranteeing customers real data privacy.

Companies looking to establish trust and credibility often opt to empower customers to make their own data privacy decisions. They accomplish this with Customer Identity and Access Management systems, which give customers the autonomy to determine what data they share and what content they see. CIAM systems allow customers to grant and restrict data access and opt in or out of specific features and functions when creating user profiles. By making these decisions for themselves, they play an active role in configuring and protecting their privacy and shaping their user experience.

When customers entrust you with their data, it is up to you to continue earning that trust every day. It is crucial to know how to keep their data safe and implement the best tools possible. Maintaining trust is a lot easier than regaining it!


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