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The Difference Between Privacy and Securityby@danarel
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The Difference Between Privacy and Security

by Dan ArelMarch 21st, 2023
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Privacy and security seem to be words that are interchangeable. We should be thinking about how privacy and security can work together but are not mutually exclusive. Some of the biggest Big Tech companies offering free email services has some of the best security. But these Big Tech giants don’t offer privacy. A simple request from law enforcement, and your emails are being turned over.
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For many, privacy and security seem to be words that are interchangeable. We hear users discuss how they love a certain product or service because of the security it provides, and just assume that this means they also have the utmost privacy.


You can also hear people complain about the lack of privacy, and then imply that this means there is no security.


Instead, we should be thinking about how privacy and security can work together but are not mutually exclusive. For example, some of the biggest Big Tech companies offering free email services have some of the best security.


The content of your emails on their servers is generally safe from hackers, and you don’t have to worry too much about their servers being compromised.


Now, what these Big Tech giants don’t offer is privacy. A simple request from law enforcement and your emails are being turned over, but more than that, these Big Tech companies are mining your email data for ad revenue.


They can monitor your purchase history, sites you have memberships with, and what kind of topics you’re emailing about.


Your emails are secure on their servers, but they offer no privacy.


On the flip side to this story is privacy-first email services that may not offer the best security. With the rise of privacy comes the rise of new providers offering services promising you 100% privacy.


They won’t read your emails, no one else can read your emails, and most even claim to offer end-to-end encryption.


This is great, except not every service does this properly, and that can jeopardize the security of your email.


It’s not just email, though. Social media, chat, and other services offer privacy and security, and it’s important that they can deliver on both to be successful. Just this year, a far-right service in the US offered hosting for various platforms, and users assumed that the service was both private and secure.


While many features did offer users privacy, when the hacker group Anonymous targeted the service, it found passwords stored in plaintext, sometimes in the HTML of the pages themselves.


This meant chat logs, and other information sent between users was easy to access. While these services may not have been selling user information, they offered no actual security.


Beyond email, chat, or social media, you should also look at the privacy and security of your search engine. Like other services, simply saying a search engine doesn’t track your searches, or look at your searches is one thing, but do they keep logs?


What information do they have about you, and how is it stored? Can someone easily snoop on your searches by watching web traffic?


Startpage, the privacy-respecting search engine, for example, offers you privacy when you search by anonymizing your searches, not logging your search history, and not tracking your IP address or browser/system information.


Meaning that your searches are completely private and unidentifiable to anyone.


Startpage also goes the extra mile in offering security measures so that interested parties cannot carry out any form of man-in-the-middle attacks and cannot monitor web traffic and see your searches. This is how security and privacy go hand-in-hand.


They are not simply one in the same, but instead two separate features that when combined offer users the safest internet experience.


When you are looking for new alternatives to Big Tech, take the time to learn about both aspects of their offerings. Is what they offer private? What do they know, why do they know it, and are they logging and storing this info?


On top of that, be sure to ask and research what security measures they offer. Do you own the encryption keys, or do they? What data they do have, how is it housed, what country is it housed in, and who has legal jurisdiction to access it? And, if they can access it, are they able to open it?


If you ask yourself these few questions and look for both aspects of a service’s offerings, you will find yourself enjoying the privacy and security on the web.


Also published here