Digital Identity

Privacy vs security. Why a security solution is not enough to protect your identity.

The concept of “security” can be defined as a means to prevent unauthorized access to data. Security is about ensuring data is safe. It refers to a layer of protection you can add to a computer or Internet-enabled device to safeguard your personal information and prevent theft of your data.

“Privacy,” on the other hand, is harder to define. Privacy ensures that the identity of a user is safe. It orbits around personal identifiable information (PII), and centers on the adoption of legislation and policies that safeguard PII in cyberspace – what personal information is collected, and how and with whom it is shared.

Technology has forever changed the way we view our security and privacy. In the past two decades, the Internet surpassed all expectations and swiftly consolidated into a powerful platform, providing a universal source of information, and a means of communication with anyone at any time, and it has reshaped the way we do business.

Then and now

In 1995, only 16 million users (0.4% of the world’s population) were using the Internet. As of June 2019, 4.5 billion people were online. That’s more than 50% of the world’s population. 18 years ago, security was about safeguarding your devices from malicious software and viruses. However, the notion of security has since gradually stretched to encompass your digital privacy and identity, moving past private data that you store locally. Every device you own contains pieces of personal data necessary to create your digital profile. The expansion of IoT is unprecedented, and it has created more challenges in fighting cybercrime. Securing all Internet-enabled devices is on demand, and security by design approaches are needed.

Before the evolution of the Internet and IoT, security and privacy weren’t such hot topics. Nowadays, our daily lives and routines are increasingly linked to technology and the digital world. We bank, shop, work and interact with others online, all with just a few clicks and strokes on a keyboard.

What a security solution can do to protect your identity

A security solution takes multiple measures to locally protect digital data from cybercriminals. It can protect against threats that spread uncontrollably and damage your system or corrupt your files. It can fend off Trojans that give malicious users remote control over infected devices. A security solution can protect against ransomware, a type of malware that locks down your files and requests payment in exchange for a decryption key. Other examples of local security are firewalls, encryption software or a VPN, which creates a safe tunnel for your online activity, encrypting all data traffic your computer handles. Basically, security is something that you can do to protect private data, locally.

What a security solution cannot do to protect your identity.

Security cannot protect your data outside the safety net you build around your devices. It can’t prevent data breaches or data leaks or fix the age-old habit of sharing too much info, which have left billions upon billions of personal data records scattered across the dark corners of the web. The cyber world is tainted with stolen data we willingly provide when using online services such as social media platforms, banking apps, and shops. Neither privacy nor security can protect your identity when it comes to data breaches.

Where security stops, policies and legislation come to the aid of consumers’ data. Legislation in the European Union gained traction in the past year, defining the handling of customer data, and offering the customer the right to receive the answer to previously unanswered questions:

• What is personal data?
• What personal data is stored?
• What is the purpose of the stored data?
• Is your personal data passed on to third parties? If so, which ones?

Other countries have adopted similar legislation and are focusing more on protecting the personal data of consumers.

Protecting your identity can be challenging. Security solutions are the first step toward local protection of personal data. But users must play an active role when it comes to their privacy. Adopting proactive security measures to ward off threats, staying informed of privacy notices from online services and limiting the amount of personal information shared online can truly make a difference when it comes to keeping their digital identity safe.

About the author

Alina Bizga

Alina has been a part of the Bitdefender family for some years now, as her past role involved interfacing with end users and partners, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She is a history buff and passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi. Her spare time is usually split between her two feline friends and traveling.