Cybersecurity and data security are two terms that seem to get tossed around a lot these days. As so much of our information and our workstreams move into the digital realm, that inevitably has revealed new vulnerabilities and risks that previously weren’t even a consideration. The truth of the matter is that without both cybersecurity and data security efforts, there will likely be cracks in your defenses as a company. Understanding the difference between these two terms, and the realities of what risks they protect you and your company from being critical. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

Cyber Security

Cybersecurity, while a pretty generalized term, is about securing things that are vulnerable through internet and communications technology. That may mean protecting anything from a network, hardware, a website, a social media account, or your online data. Cybersecurity considers that where data is stored and the technologies used to secure the data to be part of, but not the sole responsibility of, a cybersecurity effort. Part of cybersecurity is indeed focused on the protection of information and communications technologies; that’s not everything. In short, Cybersecurity includes the protection of information, both physical and digital, and non-information technologies such as cars, traffic lights, electronic appliances, or any number of devices or networks connected to the internet (which is a lot these days).

Note that IT security is the protection of information technologies. Practically, there is no difference between cybersecurity and IT security. Cybersecurity is best defined as the ability to protect or defend the use of cyberspace from cyber-attacks. There is, however, a clear difference between cybersecurity and data security.

Data Security

Data security is all about securing data. Data, it has become clear, is one of the most valuable assets an internet user (or a company) has at their disposal. Data has meaning, context, that can be very useful to those who want access to that data. Data should be protected from those who would seek to use and abuse that data. As more information moves to the cloud, more data is available for access digitally. Data security means protecting digital data, such as those in a database, from destructive forces, and the unwanted actions of unauthorized users, such as a cyberattack or a data breach.

Data security also involves being careful of who (and what) you give access to your data. 3rd party apps have been getting into trouble with how misleading they are about what they plan to use your data for. Data mining is a very profitable process of discovering patterns in large data sets involving methods at the intersection of machine learning, statistics, and database systems. Such patterns are beneficial from both a marketing perspective but also from a political perspective. It is now more important than ever to know how you are sharing your data, what it is being used for, and protecting that information from bad actors.

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