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Data Privacy vs. Data Security: What’s The Difference?

Updated: May 16, 2023

Data Privacy vs. Data Security: What’s The Difference?

Data is a prominent fixture in 21st-century life. Almost all of our tasks these days can be accomplished with mobile devices, and Earthweb reports that our heavy reliance on digital technology generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily.

Because data has unlimited potential and uses in the realms of business, research, development, and education, its management is one of the most significant concerns of information technology.

In fact, Maryville University notes that jobs that involve data, such as data analysts, data scientists, and data engineers are some of the most in-demand. For example, data scientists will have over double the growth rate of all jobs over a 10-year period between 2016 and 2026. But while data can be a useful asset for corporations and institutions, a heavily digitized reality where our identities consist of pieces of data opens us up to new variations of threats like phishing, ransomware, and data loss.

This is why organizations that handle sensitive data are taking data privacy and data security seriously. But what's the difference between the two?

What is Data Privacy?

Data privacy refers to concerns about the responsible use of data. It ensures that data is collected, used, stored, and distributed with the consent of the subject in compliance with privacy laws.

Our post ‘Data Privacy Statistics, Facts & Trends of 2022’ found that 50% of the companies that the Interactive Advertising Bureau spoke to cited privacy laws as their biggest obstacle in data usage.

This demonstrates how data privacy is the top priority in the modern digital landscape and that companies are taking it seriously.

What is Data Security?

Meanwhile, data security is focused on the protection of data from malicious attacks, including unauthorized access, corruption, and leaking. It has to do with fortifying information security through technology, measures, and policies set in place by the organization in charge of the data.

According to this CyberTalk article on statistics for cyber security, one of the components of data security, states that in 2021, the average cost of data breaches was the highest in 17 years at $4.2 million, compared to the $3.9 million the year prior.

A rising cost for compromised data security means that organizations will have to become more innovative and efficient in guarding data against these threats.

Data privacy vs. data security

While data privacy and data security have overlapping concerns about the integrity of data and the protection of individuals, there are some key differences that are essential for organizations to understand if they are going to put the proper measures in place.


Data privacy focuses on the uses of data. This means that an organization that collects your personal information should only be using it for the purposes you’ve given it consent for.

This includes data processing, data sensitivity, regulatory requirements, and notifications. Data security is focused on protecting data from destructive or unauthorized forces. These may include the corruption, modification, or destruction of this data.


Data privacy is compliance with data protection laws and regulations regarding the collection, processing, storing, and sharing of data that can vary from country to country.

Data security measures are set in place by the organization storing the data. It is their responsibility to ensure they have implemented the proper measures to keep their data safe.


Data privacy is done through managing contracts and policies, applying government regulations, and implementing third-party management. Data security is set in place through activity monitoring, network security, access control, breach response, encryption, and multi-factor authentication.

A recent Lancaster University study on how smartphones reveal identities states that app usage data alone—even when logged out—can lead to accurate identification of individuals. While this can contribute greatly to law enforcement, the availability of these kinds of data can present serious threats when misused. With how entrenched our activities are in data, data privacy and data security necessitate meticulous attention and enforcement to keep individuals safe.

It's important to know the difference between the two so you can take the appropriate protective measures to protect your company's (and your consumers') data from malicious entities.

Start your data privacy journey with Adzapier’s Free Cookie Site Scanner Tool. Just enter the URL of your website and find out what cookies are being used on your site, understand their purpose, and have actionable insights to update your site’s privacy policy.

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