Security vs Privacy on the Internet

Many people think of security and privacy as two different concepts, which is true, but many times when referring to the internet they go hand in hand. When a lot of people talk about their privacy on the internet they also are referring to security, or vice versa.


Security has been a concern ever since the Stone Ages. The only difference is that we now have the internet to take into account. Security on the internet is a hard problem to solve primarily because the internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was not built with security in mind. Back in the 1950s – 1990s when computers and the internet were slowly being pieced together security was not a priority. During the engineering process of the internet the main focuses were getting the protocols to work together and implementing a basic form of communication, which is not a bad thing but at some point in time someone should have implemented cryptography or some other form of security in the initial build of the protocols. If this would have been done when the protocols were being put together we would not have to stress security on the internet as much today. The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was one of the world’s first packet switching networks and the first network to implement the use of TCP/IP. ARPANET is the network in which some form of security should have been implemented. Security on the internet is more important to governments, businesses, and organizations than it is to standard users. This is because governments, businesses, and organizations have a lot more sensitive information to hide than the average user.


Privacy on the internet is an issue that has been around almost as long as security concerns have been. Privacy became a problem when governments were exposed performing illegal targeted and mass surveillance on the internet. A lot of everyday internet users say that privacy is important to them but at the same time they also say that security is not as much a concern to them. The truth is that you cannot have privacy without security on the internet. You have to have a basic foundation of security before you can have privacy. An example of this would be you can’t be using a computer that has backdoors, viruses, etc. on it and expect to have privacy. Privacy is a concern that is a lot more common with private citizens than governments, businesses, and organizations. Although governments, businesses, and organizations care about privacy they are more concerned with security. There are several different types of engineering processes to account for when creating software (sometimes hardware), some of which are privacy by design and privacy by policy.


Privacy by Design
Privacy by design is an approach to systems engineering which takes privacy into account throughout the whole engineering process. This approach to systems engineering is critical to private citizens and even governments, businesses, and organizations privacy. Throughout this systems engineering process the end user is thought about and no other third parties. Due to the fact that this type of software is primarily focused towards security and privacy for the end user it can be sometimes challenging for the average user to use.


Privacy by Policy
Privacy by policy is the more common approach to systems engineering today. It takes into account security and privacy throughout the systems engineering process but is not 100% based upon the end users privacy. Due to this privacy by policy and privacy by design a lot of times get mixed up. The bottom line is that Privacy by design is more focused towards the end users privacy and security, while privacy by policy is not.


To Sum It Up
If I had to choose between security and privacy on the internet I would choose security because from having security you can get a form of privacy. If you just have privacy on the internet you really don’t have privacy because you need security to have privacy. To sum it up I would say that security is more important than privacy due to the fact that you can’t have privacy without security on the internet. Privacy on the internet is a lot different than privacy in the real world. When dealing with privacy in the real world you might think of it as being able to close your curtains so people on the outside won’t be able to see in. When dealing with privacy on the internet it is a lot more complicated due to the fact that the internet is not owned and operated by one single person, government, business, or organization. The internet is owned and operated by many different people, governments, businesses, and organizations; each of which have their own agenda.


Thank you all for taking the time to read this post and as always God bless!

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Preston Hood
Hello, my name is Preston Hood. I am the owner of PJHoodsCo, an Information Technology Service Provider (ITSP). I am also a freelance writer and information security researcher.
Preston Hood

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  1. Excellent job, Preston (as usual)! I never really thought about security and privacy as separate issues. Like many people, I assumed they naturally go together. As you pointed out they do but they each have their independent purposes. It makes perfect sense that you cannot have privacy without security first.

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