What Are the Differences Between Personal and Confidential Data?

personal and confidential

Phishing emails are some of the most obvious, and yet most effective, means for hackers to compromise your data. Yet time and time again, studies show that employees fall for them. One recent study suggested this happens 33% of the time.

Alas, employees often struggle to understand the most basic security principles. Another one that they have a great deal of trouble with is the difference between personal and confidential information. So to set the record straight, what is the difference?

Let’s take a brief, yet important dive into the difference between personal and confidential data.

Personal Data

Personal data, as the name implies, is data that belongs to or identifies an individual. This can be anything from their last name, to their email address. It extends beyond identifying information to data stored on hard drives and financial records.

Personal data does have some privacy protection, such as that provided by the GDPR. Recent legislation has forced companies to preserve this data and offer the option for a complete deletion. Check out e lease returns for more info on data deletion.

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Confidential Data

Confidential data is a whole different ballpark and often extends beyond the individual. Generally speaking, confidential data refers to that which is copyrighted, proprietary, and available only to a select few. This usually has to do with an IP or brand.

Think of the secret recipe for making Coca-Cola. This information has no-nonsense legal restrictions around it that prevent it from being shared. Only a select handful of individuals can see it, use it, and none of them own it.

Sharing, selling, or otherwise distributing confidential information is against the law. People who do so could suffer harsh penalties via civil litigation, including massive fines and prison sentences.

Personal and Confidential Data: What’s the Difference?

It’s important for employees to understand the difference, since it is usually employees who infringe. Simply put, personal information will always be information that is associated with (and belongs to) an individual. If the data in question is not in possession of a particular person, then it’s likely not personal.

Many employees have access to confidential insider information. Companies will usually go to great lengths to tell them that this data is sensitive, and lay out restrictions on how to use it. If an employee cannot own this information, use it on their personal devices, or share it, it’s not personal-and may even be confidential.

Common sense can go a long way here; legal penalties and restrictions aside. No one in their right mind would try to access their employee-only account on a public library computer, for example. Employees should exercise great caution whenever dealing with any data that does not strictly belong to them.

Learn More About Cybersecurity

Personal and confidential data: what is the difference? Personal data is that which belongs to a single individual and provides identifying information about them. Confidential data is usually proprietary and belongs to a company, with restricted access and legal penalties for misuse.

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