Data Protection vs Data Security

Cyber Security

Since the sharp rise of cyberattacks against businesses following the pandemic, data privacy is more important now than ever. As you’re creating a data protection and recovery plan, it’s crucial to define your data privacy strategy for both internal and external threats.

Both internal and external threats should be mitigated, creating the need to distinguish between data protection vs information security.

Different Ways Data Can Be Compromised

Ransomware is a common scam that companies fall victim to. This refers to instances when a cybercriminal steals data or gains unauthorized access to a network, demanding a ransom payment. They may demand an amount in order to give back control of business networks or to prevent them from releasing sensitive client data to the public.

Ransomware becomes especially dangerous when legally protected sensitive data such as health records are held hostage. Other times, non-protected but equally as sensitive information like tax documents could be leaked to the public. This can come from disgruntled employees or competitors seeking to gain an edge or otherwise cause harm to a company’s reputation.

Data Protection:  Keeping Records On a Need-to-Know Basis

There are many terms that are interchangeable for data privacy, but data protection most often refers to keeping potentially harmful data from getting into the wrong hands. This includes information that isn’t necessarily protected by data compliance regulations, but could damage the company if released. Types of data that need to be protected include trade secrets, HR documents, and tax information.

How to Protect Data

To protect potentially damaging documents, restrict access to only employees that need to use the data as part of their job. Implement user authentication, decide how to configure permissions, and use strong admin passwords for authorized individuals.

It’s always a good idea to train employees on data privacy, especially if they deal directly with sensitive data. Training can mitigate the risk of employees accidentally exposing information, as it can outline appropriate and inappropriate ways to handle and dispose of data.

Data Security is Keeping Data from Hackers

As opposed to data protection, data security refers to more sensitive documents that need specialized cybersecurity measures to keep hackers from accessing your network. These types of data are targeted for their delicate nature, since breaches can be especially costly, and businesses will do more to recover them. Some examples of these types of data include:

  • Login Credentials
  • Network Admin Passwords
  • Financial Information

Sometimes, hackers can buy and sell stolen data sets on the dark web. This is known as the business of cybercrime, which is a growing industry where cybercriminals make money through monetizing cyber breaches. To read more about how hackers buy and sell stolen data to exploit businesses, read our article: The Business of Cybercrime.   

Data Regulations and Compliance

After a recent steep rise in cyber attacks targeting ill-prepared businesses, many industries have seen new regulations requiring businesses to use quality cybersecurity. Below are a few types of cybersecurity  regulations for different industries.

FTC Safeguards rule

This is a rule for financial institutions requiring them to have specific protections in place to safeguard customer financial data. This applies to entities like mortgage brokers, tax preparation firms, and finance companies, along with auto dealerships..  The Federal Trade Commission implemented an amendment to this rule in 2021 to include auto dealerships with over 5,000 customer records since they are considered “finders”.


A well-known regulatory standard is HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Passed in 1996, HIPAA acts as a code of conduct for handling patient records in healthcare. Since HIPAA violations are so serious, cybercriminals will often target health data so they can demand a higher ransom.

Even if ransoms are paid and records aren’t released publicly after a breach, healthcare businesses might find themselves listed on the “HIPAA Wall of Shame”, a list of companies that have suffered breaches and therefore violated HIPAA protections. Read more about the importance of cybersecurity in healthcare in our blog: Is Cybersecurity Really That Big of a Deal In Healthcare? Risks of Healthcare Data Breaches.

How to Ensure Data Security and Compliance with Regulations

A great first step in becoming compliant with cybersecurity regulations is by partnering with an MSP with experience in your industry. They should be familiar with industry standards for data protection, so they can help you implement crucial tools such as:

  • Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
  • Encryption
  • Data security training for employees
  • Phishing awareness training
  • Strong password and reset policies.
  • Zero trust architecture

Zero trust is a framework that assumes all programs and users are malicious until approved by an IT team member. This is a great way to mitigate the risk of cyber breaches, by assuming that an attack has or will happen. To read more about zero trust, read our blog: Zero Trust Is a Must to Combat Shadow IT, Zero-Day Attacks And More.

Ways You Can Check To See If You’ve Been Compromised

You may have already suffered a data breach without your knowledge. Often, hackers will steal credentials and other sensitive data and hold it for months until its either sold or finally used for malicious purposes. To check if your information is on the dark web, a secure dark web scan can indicate if your data has been exposed. It can even tell you which passwords or credentials are on the dark web.

To get a free dark web scan, click here. 

If you’re ready to take charge of your cybersecurity strategy, click the button below for a free dark web scan performed by a cybersecurity expert. 

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About Jada Sterling, Digital Content Manager

Jada Sterling is Usherwood's Content Manager. She is responsible for developing content that furthers the mission of Usherwood Office Technology by helping clients and prospective clients better understand how technology can help grow their business.