Is Security More Important than Privacy? No: Here’s Why

By Adrian Lăpădat

March 16, 2022

Security and privacy: which is more important? Security and privacy are frequently looked at as two sides of the same coin, but this is not necessarily the case.

Improvements in data security can help businesses safeguard customer data. In turn, when businesses uphold privacy, we protect ourselves from data breaches, data leaks, and attacks on customer data, which increases our credibility and viability as companies in an increasingly privacy-focused world.

This article describes the interactions between privacy and security, and how security can increase consumer trust when it supports their privacy. Diving deeper, a market analysis reveals consumer preferences and action items for how businesses can improve customer retention through making privacy a selling point.

Security and Privacy 

Security, Privacy, and PII 

Personal data, frequently referred to as Personally Identifiable Information (PII), is data that can identify someone, or data that an individual would only share with people or businesses they trust. Often, we view PII as something to be protected from attackers such as persons attempting to commit identity theft. Security and privacy frequently work together to protect this type of information.

What’s the Difference? 

In regard to the cyber realm, security is about implementing defensive measures to make sure that only authorized parties have access to PII. These measures may involve the use of digital safeguards or restricted access, such as password usage or encryption, in order to protect against unauthorized PII access.

Privacy more so describes an assurance about PII rather than a direct practice to safeguard it. Enacting a promise of privacy ensures from the start that PII is only available to entities such as other individuals, private enterprises, and government agencies with an individual’s consent. The definition of privacy tends to be less clear than that of security, in large part owing to its intangible nature and ongoing debates concerning its definition.

It is easier to understand the role of each by considering how different levels of privacy and security interact. This can be illustrated by considering the interplay between you, the consumer, and a hypothetical social media app.

Imagine this hypothetical: an app uses your data to create your account and improve how you interact with the app. When you have security but not privacy, the app could sell your data to a data collection company, which could sell it to a marketing agency, and that agency could sell it to another unauthorized third party. You have neither security nor privacy when the app’s security protections are compromised by a data breach; then, people who are not legally allowed to access your data can do so. If you have both privacy and security, you know what the app is doing with your data, and you trust that it is protected and secure.

How Should Security and Privacy Interact? 

In an ecosystem where tech giants Google and Facebook are looked upon unfavorably due to the way they use customer data, data privacy is a growing concern for people. Aside from this, the data also show that people value data privacy, and are more likely to engage with businesses who share this value.

This is not to say that people do not value security—they do—but they value security when it is used to protect their privacy even more.

Data-Driven Answers

Market Analysis 

People value privacy. Anyone who says otherwise has not looked at the data. A survey conducted on 1,000 people in the U.S. by Dynata on behalf of Privistar supports this. The survey has a good sample size and was conducted by a leading data collection and analysis firm.

It answers several important questions to help guide business decisions. Here are three of the most powerful.


What—Outside of Cost—Is Most Important to How Loyal Customers Are to a Brand?

People were asked which of six factors were most important to them in terms of brand loyalty. It turns out, when deciding which brand to buy from, people care about trust, how committed a brand is to protecting their data, and customer service.

Further data supports the theory that privacy protections contribute to consumer loyalty. The CMO Council surveyed 227 senior marketing executives on how the GDPR impacted their customer relationships (the GDPR is the European Union’s standardized data privacy legislation, adopted on April 27, 2016). In the survey, 43% said that GDPR led to increased trust, and 26% said it led to more engaged customers.


How Much Do Consumers Care About Their Data?

78% of consumers are concerned or very concerned about protecting their data, which signifies that data privacy is a significant consumer concern.


To What Degree Are Consumers Willing to Share Sensitive Data with Businesses?

While consumers are willing to share data with businesses to receive personalized offerings, updates/notices about products and services, and to receive membership perks, the biggest figure in this category is how many people would not do this under any circumstances. 42% of people said, “I wouldn’t offer personal/private information to a business for any reason.”

First of all, this data means that a significant portion of consumers really care about privacy. More grimly, it reveals a severe lack of consumer trust for businesses. It potentially means that 42% of people who responded trust businesses so little they would never share their data with them.

This is not to say that all is lost; rather, it is important to consider the general context of distrust, and establish ways to build consumer confidence.

The Importance of Privacy for Consumer Confidence

In a research article published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, Shankar and colleagues suggest that when consumers feel their data is being watched and collected, they are substantially less likely to buy things online.

Businesses can improve customer purchase probability by not using cookies to collect consumer data, such as personal and financial information. If businesses are using customer data (for example, to customize site preferences and optimize experiences for customers), they should ensure that the data is kept safely and is not shared with third parties.

As an example, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certification (the lock that appears on the left of a URL; while most consumers may not know what an SSL certificate is, many know to look for the lock and to prefer the “https” over the “http” scheme) improves consumer confidence, and is a security must. The “Managerial Implications” section of the Shankar paper provides additional useful suggestions.


Being seen as trustworthy and committed to protecting personal information is of great relevance to improving business performance. Businesses can best convince consumers of their commitment to these values through a combination of marketing efforts and reliable privacy measures.

humanID is an anonymous, accessible, accountable privacy solution. Businesses use humanID to demonstrate their commitment to privacy. It is a convenient solution that implements the latest best practices in cybersecurity to build trust between companies and users. It is a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution with a more convenient approach to two-factor authentication (2FA) that is readily accessible to customers. The greatest advantage of humanID is its fully anonymous login mechanism . This is a massive advantage over SSO from big tech companies that are not privacy-oriented, such as  Facebook and other 2FA solutions that track users.

Increase your customer loyalty and retention rates with humanID.