[WEBINAR] The New Normal: Dealing with the Reality of an Unsecure World

What is the difference between privacy, confidentiality and security?

Q: What is the difference between privacy, confidentiality and security?

A: The terms privacy, confidentiality and security have a lot in common as they apply to modern-day information technology, but they also have their own meanings and their own significant roles in their application to data maintenance and data management.

First, the issue of privacy is one that often applies to a consumer’s right to safeguard his or her information from any other parties. It involves the protection of vulnerable data such as Facebook data, customer response data and other kinds of demographic data or personal data from being freely disseminated over the Internet or sold to third parties. In general, privacy is the individual’s right to keep his or her data to himself or herself.

Confidentiality is a similar idea, but with a slightly different component. IT professionals often talk about confidentiality in terms of a supplier or service provider and its customers. Confidentiality agreements are often applied to situations where someone trusted with personal data must safeguard this data from being released. Alternately, some may define confidentiality as issues about the data that gets collected, where privacy issues have to do, again, with the core principle of an individual not being recorded or monitored.

Security is a different term that's applied to enterprise or government systems. Security may include the idea of customer privacy, but the two are not synonymous. Likewise, security may provide for confidentiality, but that is not its overall goal. The overall goal of most security systems is to protect an enterprise or agency, which may or may not house a lot of vulnerable customer or client data. Sometimes, the objectives for privacy and security are the same. In other cases, security may not automatically provide for privacy concerns. One example is where a business or government agency may be able to keep its data safe from outside attackers, but where employees may be able to view consumer information. Another scenario might involve situations where a company doesn’t face any liability by releasing customer data, and so chooses to do so. Here, the company’s security is not jeopardized, but the consumer’s privacy is violated. New contracts between businesses and federal agencies are also good examples of how IT issues cut through the different layers between privacy, confidentiality and security.

Have a question? Ask Techopedia here.

View all questions from Techopedia.

Techopedia Staff
Profile Picture of Techopedia Staff

At Techopedia, we aim to provide insight and inspiration to IT professionals, technology decision-makers and anyone else who is proud to be called a geek. From defining complex tech jargon in our dictionary, to exploring the latest trend in our articles or providing in-depth coverage of a topic in our tutorials, our goal is to help you better understand technology - and, we hope, make better decisions as a result. 

 Full Bio
Free Whitepaper: The Path to Hybrid Cloud
Free Whitepaper: The Path to Hybrid Cloud:
The Path to Hybrid Cloud: Intelligent Bursting To Amazon Web Services & Microsoft Azure
Free E-Book: Public Cloud Guide
Free E-Book: Public Cloud Guide:
This white paper is for leaders of Operations, Engineering, or Infrastructure teams who are creating or executing an IT roadmap.
Free Tool: Virtual Health Monitor
Free Tool: Virtual Health Monitor:
Virtual Health Monitor is a free virtualization monitoring and reporting tool for VMware, Hyper-V, RHEV, and XenServer environments.
Free 30 Day Trial – Turbonomic
Free 30 Day Trial – Turbonomic:
Turbonomic delivers an autonomic platform where virtual and cloud environments self-manage in real-time to assure application performance.


  • Being digital should be of more interest than being electronic.
    - Alan Turing, 1947