Data Governance vs Data Security: 7 Key Differences in 2024

Updated September 21st, 2023
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Data governance is about managing and organizing data effectively. It involves establishing policies, processes, and procedures to ensure the proper collection, storage, quality, and usage of data.

But, data security focuses on protecting data from potential threats and maintaining its confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It includes implementing measures such as encryption, access controls, firewalls, and other security technologies to safeguard data from unauthorized disclosure, alteration, or destruction.

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While the terms are often used interchangeably, data governance vs data security often refers to distinct concepts that are vital for any organization that deals with data.

In this article, we will understand:

  1. Use cases of data governance and security
  2. The risks your organization might suffer by neglecting data governance and security
  3. The key differences between data governance and security

Ready? Let’s go!

Table of contents

  1. Data governance vs data security: Concepts to understand
  2. Exploring the use cases for data governance and security
  3. Is data security part of governance?
  4. Risks of neglecting data governance and security implementation
  5. What is the difference between data governance and security: A tabular view
  6. Rounding it up all together
  7. Data governance vs data security: Related reads

Data governance vs data security: Concepts to understand

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty to better understand data governance and security along with their key components.

Data governance

Data governance is a holistic approach to managing, improving, and leveraging data to create business value.

It provide actionable insights, and ensure compliance. It involves the policies, procedures and processes that ensure data is accurate, consistent, available, and secure.

Data governance sets the overall strategy and structure for data management, addressing areas such as data quality, and data privacy. Furthermore, it also includes business process management and risk management.

Key components of data governance include:

  1. Data quality
  2. Data stewardship
  3. Data policies and procedures
  4. Metadata management
  5. Data privacy and compliance

Let us learn about them one by one:

Data governance is a holistic approach to managing, improving, and leveraging data to create business value.

It provide actionable insights, and ensure compliance. It involves the policies, procedures and processes that ensure data is accurate, consistent, available, and secure.

Data governance sets the overall strategy and structure for data management, addressing areas such as data quality, and data privacy. Furthermore, it also includes business process management and risk management.

Key components of data governance include:

  1. Data quality
  2. Data stewardship
  3. Data policies and procedures
  4. Metadata management
  5. Data privacy and compliance

Let us learn a bit more about them one by one.

1. Data quality

Data quality is about ensuring the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of data. It refers to the condition of a set of values of qualitative or quantitative variables. Accuracy, completeness, reliability, relevance, timeliness, and consistency are some of its keys attributes.

Organizations often need to invest in specific tools and processes to ensure data quality. This may include validation checks during data entry, regular audits, and cleansing routines to rectify identified inaccuracies.

As businesses grow and data proliferates, maintaining data quality becomes both more challenging and more crucial. Data lineage tools can also help trace data from its source to its final output, ensuring that it remains uncompromised throughout its journey.

2. Data stewardship

Data stewardship is about assigning roles and responsibilities related to data management. It is the responsible management and oversight of an organization’s data assets.

Data stewards are individuals or teams responsible for ensuring the proper use, quality, and storage of data. Their role is pivotal in bridging the gap between IT and business units, ensuring that data meets the quality and consistency standards set by the organization. Data stewards might be responsible for defining data elements, ensuring their quality, and working with IT to address any technical challenges.

In practice, data stewardship involves a host of activities ranging from data quality checks, data lifecycle management, to defining business terms and ensuring they’re consistently applied.

It’s a proactive role, often requiring stewards to stay ahead of the curve in understanding emerging data needs, potential quality issues, and ensuring that data practices align with the strategic goals of the organization.

3. Data policies and procedures

Creating and enforcing rules for how data is collected, stored, shared, and used. It serve as the rulebook for data management within an organization. They outline the do’s and don’ts of data collection, storage, processing, and sharing.

By setting out clear guidelines, they ensure that everyone in the organization handles data in a consistent and legally compliant manner. These data governance policies can address everything from data security measures, access controls, to backup and archiving routines.

Procedures, on the other hand, are the step-by-step instructions or processes that ensure the policies are effectively implemented. For instance, while a policy might state that all customer data must be encrypted, the procedure would detail the encryption methods, tools to be used, and how often encryption checks should be performed.

Together, policies and procedures act as a roadmap, guiding organizations in their daily data operations and ensuring alignment with broader data governance goals.

4. Metadata management

Metadata management helps in keeping track of data definitions, relationships, and structures. It deals with the information that describes other data. It’s essentially data about data.

Metadata provides context, making raw data understandable and usable. It might include information about when a piece of data was created, who created it, its source, its relationships with other data, and more. Proper metadata management is pivotal in ensuring data can be effectively located, understood, and trusted by its users.

Without effective metadata management, data can quickly become a disorganized mess, difficult to navigate and utilize. As organizations scale and handle vast amounts of data across different systems, the role of metadata in providing clarity becomes indispensable.

It helps in data integration projects, ensures compliance by tracing data lineage, and improves data search and discovery.

5. Data privacy and compliance

Ensuring adherence to regulations and ethical considerations. In today’s digital age, where data breaches are not uncommon, maintaining data privacy is paramount. It involves implementing controls to prevent unauthorized access, ensuring data is used for its intended purpose, and providing individuals with control over their personal data.

Compliance, meanwhile, refers to the adherence to external regulations and standards that pertain to data management. Regulations like the GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California have set strict guidelines on how businesses should handle personal data.

Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and a damaged reputation. Organizations must, therefore, have systems in place to ensure they are always compliant with these ever-evolving regulations, ensuring trustworthiness in their data practices.

Data security

Data security is a component of data governance, focused specifically on protecting data. The data might be from unauthorized access, data corruption, or data breaches.

It aims to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA triad). Data security employs various methods, such as encryption, tokenization, access controls, network security, and more.

Key components of data security include:

  1. Access controls
  2. Data encryption
  3. Data backup and recovery
  4. Network security
  5. Security compliance

Let us look into each of the above components one by one:

1. Access controls

Access controls is about determining who can access data and what they can do with it.

It act as the gatekeepers to an organization’s data and resources. By establishing who can access what data, when, and under what conditions, access controls ensure that only authorized individuals can interact with sensitive information.

Role-based access controls (RBAC) are a popular method, where permissions are granted based on job roles, ensuring employees only have access to the information necessary for their specific tasks. This minimizes the risk of data breaches from within the organization and ensures that sensitive data remains compartmentalized.

Furthermore, access controls extend beyond just setting permissions. Monitoring and auditing are crucial components. Regularly reviewing access logs helps in identifying any unusual patterns or unauthorized access attempts.

Immediate action can be taken if discrepancies arise, thereby ensuring that the data environment remains secure and any potential security threats are quickly neutralized.

2. Data encryption

Protecting data in transit and at rest using cryptographic techniques. It transforms readable data (plaintext) into encoded information (ciphertext) that can only be read or processed after it’s been decrypted using a specific key.

Encryption plays a pivotal role in ensuring data privacy, especially during data transmission or while it’s stored in potentially vulnerable locations. For instance, when personal details are sent over the internet, encryption ensures that interceptors cannot easily understand the information, thus safeguarding data during transit.

In modern data ecosystems, encryption is implemented at various levels, from individual files and databases to entire disks and communication channels.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) are examples of commonly used encryption methods. The objective remains consistent: to ensure that even if data falls into the wrong hands, it remains incomprehensible without the appropriate decryption key.

3. Data backup and recovery

Ensuring data can be restored in case of loss or corruption. These ensure that an organization’s data is safely stored in secondary locations, allowing for its restoration in the event of data loss, system failures, or disasters.

Regular backups are vital for business continuity, as they allow for rapid recovery and minimal downtime. Different strategies, like full, differential, and incremental backups, offer various balances between backup speed, recovery speed, and storage requirements.

Recovery, on the other hand, involves restoring the data from these backups. An effective recovery plan considers not just the restoration of data but also the time taken to restore it.

Solutions like Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) are gaining traction, offering cloud-based recovery options that ensure high availability and rapid restoration, minimizing the business impact of data disruptions.

4. Network security

Protecting the infrastructure where data is stored and transported. It involves measures and protocols to prevent unauthorized access, misuse, or attacks on an organization’s computer network and network-accessible resources.

Given that a large portion of threats originate from network vulnerabilities, maintaining a fortified network is crucial. This includes firewalls, which monitor and filter incoming and outgoing network traffic based on security policies, and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) that identify suspicious activities or violations.

Beyond these, network security also encompasses measures like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). These provide secure communication over potentially insecure networks, and regular network assessments to identify and patch vulnerabilities.

As the number of connected devices in organizations grows, and as cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, the importance of robust network security measures continues to escalate.

5. Security compliance

Ensuring adherence to regulations that dictate specific security measures. Security compliance is not a static goal.

It requires ongoing efforts, given that regulatory environments often evolve, reflecting the changing landscape of cyber threats and the value society places on data privacy. Examples include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, which sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information.

Adhering to security compliance not only mitigates the risk of legal repercussions and hefty fines but also ensures trustworthiness in the eyes of customers, partners, and stakeholders.

Achieving compliance often involves regular audits, employee training, and process documentation. In a world where data breaches are frequent news, demonstrating compliance is also a significant aspect of an organization’s reputation management strategy.

In summary, data governance is a comprehensive approach to managing data across an organization. On the other hand, data security is specifically focused on the protection of data.

Is data security part of governance?

Data governance is the umbrella under which an organization manages its data. It encompasses the establishment of policies, processes, and standards, ensuring that data is handled with accuracy and responsibility. This framework not only provides clarity on data usage and management but also emphasizes the significance of consistent and reliable data handling.

At the heart of this data governance structure is data security. It preserves data integrity by shielding it from unauthorized access and potential external and internal threats.

Moreover, with regulations like GDPR and HIPAA setting rigorous data protection standards, security becomes vital to ensure regulatory compliance. Additionally, in building and preserving an organization’s reputation, data security is instrumental in fostering and sustaining stakeholder trust.

Data security also underscores the operational resilience of an entity. By emphasizing backups, recoveries, and disaster preparedness, it guarantees data’s availability during unforeseen challenges.

Parallelly, as governance defines roles and permissions for data access, it inherently requires robust security mechanisms, such as access controls, to enforce these delineations effectively.

So, while governance sketches the broader data management strategy, security solidifies its foundation, proving their intertwined nature.

Exploring use cases for data governance and security

Data is becoming ubiquitous and playing a significant role in shaping our daily lives. From personal information to business operations, the need to protect data is paramount.

To ensure that data is managed and secured effectively, organizations implement data governance and security policies.

In this section, we’ll explore the diverse range of applications and use cases for data governance and security .

Now let us learn about each system one by one in brief:

What are the use cases of data governance?

Let’s look at some of the key use cases of data governance and understand how you can use it in your organization:

  • Financial services

Banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions deal with enormous volumes of sensitive data.

Data governance helps ensure regulatory compliance (like GDPR, SOX, Basel III). It improves risk management, and enhances customer data management to offer personalized services.

  • Retail

In retail, data governance can enhance customer experiences. it does so by ensuring accurate, high-quality data feeds into analytics systems for personalized marketing.

It can also streamline supply chain management through better vendor and product data management.

  • Telecommunications

Telecom companies can use data governance to improve service quality, billing accuracy, and compliance with regulations.

For example, improving data quality can lead to better network fault detection and resolution.

  • Public sector

Government agencies can use data governance to ensure transparency, citizen privacy, and efficient services.

For instance, accurate data can enhance public service delivery and policy-making.

What are the use cases of data security?

The following use cases of data security can help you determine the best way you can use it in your organization:

  • E-Commerce

E-commerce platforms need robust data security to protect sensitive customer data, including credit card details and personal information.

This includes implementing encryption, secure sockets layer (SSL) for data transmission, and robust authentication protocols.

  • Education

Educational institutions, especially universities, store a large amount of personal data about students and staff.

Data security measures are needed to protect this data and comply with regulations such as FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

  • Technology companies

Tech companies often handle a significant amount of user data, making data security paramount.

This includes securing user accounts, transaction data, and preventing unauthorized access to user data.

  • Hospitality industry

Hotels, restaurants, and travel companies collect customer data for reservations and to personalize services.

Data security measures are crucial to prevent breaches that could lead to identity theft or fraud.

Remember that while the above examples highlight specific applications, data governance and data security are universal needs across all industries. The exact approach and priorities might change based on the industry, but the overall need for data governance and security remains the same.

Risks of neglecting data governance and security implementation

Failing to properly implement data governance and data security can pose significant risks to an organization. These risks vary depending on the specific industry and type of data.

Some general risks associated with data governance and data security include:

Consequences of poor data governance

Let’s look at how poor data governance can affect your organization.

  • Poor decision-making

Without proper data governance, data can be inconsistent, outdated, or inaccurate. Decisions based on such data can lead to misguided strategies, lost opportunities, and financial losses.

  • Regulatory non-compliance

Many industries have strict regulations regarding data management.

  • Inefficiency

Without clear policies and processes, managing data can be chaotic and inefficient. This can lead to wasted resources and missed opportunities for leveraging data effectively.

  • Lack of trust

Poor data governance can lead to a lack of trust in the data by internal stakeholders, reducing its usability and value.

This can limit the organization’s ability to make data-driven decisions and innovations.

Consequences of poor data security

  • Data breaches

Perhaps the most obvious risk is that inadequate data security can lead to data breaches. This can result in the theft of sensitive data, such as customer’s personal information.

This can lead to financial loss and damage to the company’s reputation.

  • Financial penalties

Many industries are regulated by laws that require certain levels of data security. Non-compliance can lead to substantial fines.

For instance, companies that don’t comply with GDPR can be fined up to €20 million or 4% of global annual revenue, whichever is higher.

  • Loss of business

If customers don’t trust a company to protect their data, they may take their business elsewhere. This can lead to a loss of revenue and, in some cases, could threaten the viability of the business.

  • Operational disruption

A successful cyber-attack can disrupt business operations, potentially leading to significant downtime and loss of revenue.

For instance, a ransomware attack could lock a company out of its own systems until a ransom is paid.

In short, implementing robust data governance and data security is essential for managing risks and ensuring the successful operation of any organization.

It is important to approach these not as one-time tasks, but as ongoing processes that adapt to changing data landscapes and threat environments.

What is the difference between data governance and data security: A tabular view

Data governance and security are two essential aspects of modern data management. Data governance involves setting policies and procedures for data management, while data security ensures that data is protected from unauthorized access and use.

In this segment we provide a comprehensive comparison of data governance and security in an easy-to-read table.

 Data GovernanceData Security
DefinitionThe overall management of data availability, usability, integrity, and security.Protects data from unauthorized access, corruption, and breaches.
ComponentsData quality, data stewardship, data policies and procedures, metadata management, data privacy and compliance.Access controls, data encryption, data backup and recovery, network security, security compliance.
Application areasFinancial services, retail, telecommunications, public sectorE-commerce, education, technology companies, hospitality industry
Risks if not implementedPoor decision-making, regulatory non-compliance, inefficiency, lack of trust.Data breaches, financial penalties, loss of business, operational disruption.
Primary goalTo manage, improve, and leverage data to create business value and ensure compliance.To ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
Relation to the other termData security is a crucial component of data governance.Data security is a part of the broader concept of data governance.
Tools/TechniquesData auditing, data cataloging, data lineage, data privacy management.Encryption, tokenization, firewall, Intrusion detection system (IDS), secure sockets layer (SSL).

The above table provides a concise comparison between data governance and data security, highlighting their differences and interrelated aspects. Both are vital for any organization dealing with sensitive data or aiming to leverage data for business value.

Rounding it up all together

In summary, data governance and data security are vital aspects of managing and protecting data assets. Data governance establishes policies and processes for maximizing data quality and utilization. While data security safeguards data against unauthorized access.

Both have diverse use cases such as regulatory compliance and risk management. Neglecting their implementation can lead to data breaches and reputational damage.

While data governance focuses on managing data as an enterprise asset, data security prioritizes protection against threats. A holistic approach that combines robust governance and security measures is crucial for unlocking the full potential of data while ensuring its confidentiality and integrity.

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