Data Privacy vs. Data Protection: What That Means in 2021

September 27th, 2021

In this digital age, there’s almost nothing that can’t be done online: school, banking, work, shopping, socialization, ordering food. The list is endless! All this activity generates terabytes of data, including information that should be private, and information that should be protected. Your IP address shows your physical location, any online purchases require either banking or credit card information, your work could include the internal dissemination of trade secrets, competitive product launches, protected health information, and other sensitive data.

With cloud workspaces becoming the norm, data privacy, information security and compliance in the cloud are becoming hot topics. How do you protect your data from cyberattacks?

Data Breaches Are on the Rise

News reports of data leaks or breaches are happening with increasing, alarming frequency. It seems like we’re hearing of a new ransomware attack or data breach every day.

Governments and other agencies are reacting to our changing digital landscape with more stringent regulations for how data is used and stored. This includes the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and California’s CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), and some organizations must comply with HIPAA, PCI DSS, and other standards.

To keep your business on the cutting edge, you need to know the difference between data privacy and data protection, and ensure you are in compliance with the regulations for every location where you do business, whether you have a local clientele or a worldwide consumer base.

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Data Privacy vs. Data Protection

Data privacy vs. data protection has to do with what information is collected, how that information is used and stored, and what protects that data from unauthorized access. The difference comes from who or what that data is being protected from.

Data Privacy

This is dependent on a company’s internal policies (which may be driven by regulations like the GDPR) and consumer consent, to govern the collection and usage of data. Policies are communicated to the consumer via “terms of use,” an agreement to use the data responsibly in accordance with the rights of the consumer.

Personal information can range from customer data to employee information, including everything from Social Security numbers and other identifying information to healthcare records and recordings of online meetings. Data privacy cannot be maintained without robust data protection!

Data Protection

This is how we describe the storage and access control of collected data, or “information security.” It includes data encryption, network security, multifactor authentication, and anything that prevents unauthorized access of data.

Data may be protected both internally and externally – do all employees need access to all company data, or does it make more sense to have a tiered approach where certain departments can only access certain information? External protection is needed to keep data secure against malicious entities, hackers, and leaks or breaches, often for the purpose of exploitation.

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Why Your Business Should Create Privacy-Forward, Compliant Policies

Stay-at-home orders and increases in remote work have highlighted the vulnerabilities in how business is conducted online. As many companies rushed to implement work-from-home policies, privacy and data protection were sometimes neglected.

For example, the popular online meeting platform Zoom initially claimed its app supported end-to-end encryption, but further scrutiny revealed that their security was not up to that level (Zoom went on to implement end-to-end-encryption in October 2020). Malicious parties took advantage of this weakness (and others in enterprise cloud systems), accessing consumer and company data.

These data breaches and leaks have led to increased calls for updated data privacy laws and regulations to ensure ethical data usage, giving consumers greater control over how their personal data is used. Even before new legislation is passed, it makes sense for your business to get ahead of the curve on this hot button topic and create a privacy-forward policy to protect personal data:

  • By prioritizing privacy, information security will also be prioritized. A strong privacy policy ensures access and storage are carefully considered to make sure data is used appropriately and with authorized access only.
  • It’s what your customers want. Controlling who can get information about them is important to 93% of Americans, according to a 2015 Pew Research survey.
  • Create consumer trust. A data breach can have big repercussions, with 76% of organizations saying a data breach of customer information had a severe or moderate impact on their reputation. Customers prefer companies that take data privacy seriously, which can give you a competitive edge.
  • A proactive policy makes it easier to adapt to new privacy regulations. California’s CCPA was revised by the CPRA (California Privacy Rights Act) before full implementation of the CCPA even took place.
  • Noncompliance with current regulations can result in huge fines. GDPR’s top 10 enforcement fines have ranged from 7 million Euro to 204 million Euro.

If you’re looking to increase your data privacy and protection, it’s important to partner with an expert to ensure nothing gets overlooked. Your cloud service provider is an expert at cloud security and can help guide you to a more comprehensive approach to data privacy.

Our IT experts can help you comply with numerous standards and regulatory requirements, including HIPAA, SOC 2, SOC 3, FFIEC, PCI DSS, GLBA, and GDPR.

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Protect Your Organization’s Privacy and Data With Practical Cybersecurity Solutions

However, data privacy is only part of the equation. In addition to giving your customers and clients peace of mind, you should also actively protect their data (and your business’ information) with robust DRaaS and cybersecurity solutions.

Increasingly, the lines between BaaS and DRaaS have blurred, and there are many cost-effective solutions that can help you protect all your critical data. This might include different data storage approaches for different types of information. For example, you might want to replicate your CRM or ERP data, so it’s immediately accessible if you experience a hardware failure or cyberattack. However, it might be appropriate to backup other data in a less expensive format.

For example, we helped Gilson Graphics supplement its existing backup strategy with increasingly sophisticated disaster recovery solutions that protect the company’s applications, physical servers, and data. To learn more, check out the company’s case study.

We can help you get peace of mind with backup and disaster recovery solutions that can both backup and replicate your data—giving you immediate access to your most important information and applications.

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Want to Learn More About Data Security? Contact Virtual Systems

As the importance of data privacy increases and new regulations are passed to ensure privacy compliance, you can’t afford to ignore your privacy policies and data security. It may sound complicated and difficult, but the experts at Virtual Systems can walk you through the steps you need to take.

We can help you create a customized solution that fits your business needs, to prioritize data privacy and information security in today’s ever-evolving landscape.

To get in touch with our team of specialists about protecting your data, please fill out our online contact form or call us at 844-2-VIRTUAL.


Mary, M., and Lee, R. (2015, May 20). Americans’ Views About Data Collection and Security. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Ponemon Institute. (2011, November). Reputation Impact of a Data Breach. City, ST: Ponemon Institute LLC. Retrieved from

Bloomberg Law. (2021). Privacy & Data Security Outlook 2021. City, ST: Bloomberg Law. Retrieved from

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