Our digital identity is something all of us value. While not all of us have the technical knowledge to protect our data, we rely on the service providers to maintain privacy. Karen Hepp, a famous television presenter, was shocked when she saw her photo used as a targeted advertisement on Facebook. [1]

Facebook again came under intense scrutiny when a hack revealed a massive breach of user privacy, compromising the data of millions of people, which ultimately led to multiple class-action lawsuits against the Social Media Giant [2].

The incident of the photo advertising above leads to how to ensure security and privacy in the digital environment. While important legal texts such as GDPR and PIPA talk about data privacy, the practical implementation is still not the same. Organizations that are often in the cross-hairs of privacy breaches must embrace Privacy Engineering, a relatively newer concept in cybersecurity.

What is Privacy Engineering?

Privacy engineering is a field that focuses on how to design and implement the right level of security for your personal information. It includes techniques, strategies, and tools that help you create privacy-preserving systems.

If you’re involved in a data security and privacy process, you need to be aware of privacy engineering. With the ever-increasing number of data breaches and privacy violations, it’s becoming more important than ever to design a system that protects our information.

The Technology of Privacy Engineering

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Privacy engineering has three main concepts:-

  1. The first concept is privacy by design. Effective designing means the company or organization’s entire software and hardware systems are built with privacy, not just the data they collect. For example, it would be considered a privacy violation to track your movements from website to website without your consent.
  2. The second concept is data security through encryption and design. Data protection through design means that all types of sensitive information, not just personal data, are protected through encryption technology and secure storage techniques.
  3. Finally, the third concept of privacy engineering is identity management. Managing identity means that an individual’s digital footprints are kept confidential and only viewable by their consent and only to those who need them for business purposes.

Privacy Engineering for Organizations

Many organizations may not realize just how vital privacy engineering is to their company’s success. It provides greater security and can improve productivity by reducing the number of errors resulting from data breaches. Implementing privacy engineering can also help cut costs and increase profits since a company can implement it at no charge.

Although many of today’s thriving privacy programs depend on manual and time-intensive processes, the effort is needed to proceed to scale privacy. Gartner evaluates that companies will expend $8 billion worldwide on privacy shaping in 2022 [3] and that in the coming three years, 40% of privacy compliance engineering will depend on AI [4].

Another benefit of implementing privacy engineering is providing executives, managers, and employees peace of mind. The privacy team is responsible for reviewing all of the data within an organization’s systems which helps reduce the risk of a data breach from within the company. Privacy Engineers build cybersecurity measures into everything they do, ensuring that the highest level of protection is offered to the public.

Why is Privacy Engineering Necessary?

For today’s businesses, gaining privacy rights is becoming a crucial part of winning trust with customers, which can be prone to lasting connections and willingness to divide information that can be familiar to differentiate and emerge better services. More than that, privacy has become a mighty distinguisher for the products we use in daily life - see Apple’s WWDC 2020 keynotes [5] or an example of how unable to do it right. [6]

For consumers, privacy permits control- or the skill to demonstrate how your information can be used and split. Also, today’s many companies are structuring their business model on this idea (Signal, DuckDuckGo, and Medium) that accurately makes revenue from subscriptions and do not sell users’ Personal Data).

How is it different from Security Engineering?

Privacy Engineering designs a system to protect data from unauthorized access, while Security Engineering implements a system to prevent the loss or theft of data.

In the case of privacy engineering, the goal is to ensure that there is no way for third parties to access or steal your data. Confidentiality is accomplished by hiding it from public view and providing that it is not accessible by other individuals outside your company.

For companies considering implementing privacy engineering processes in their company, it is essential to understand the difference between privacy and security and what both can do for an organization.

Conclusion

Privacy engineering is the application of engineering principles to privacy issues. It includes data protection, cryptography, security architecture design, and process improvement for information management in compliance with laws and regulations. The privacy engineers should be aware of technology trends, like blockchain (which provides anonymity), artificial intelligence, and machine learning algorithms that are created on large amounts of personal data, such as voice- or facial-recognition software or social media monitoring tools, which bad actors can exploit.

Organizations need a clear definition of the process for protecting privacy, preventing data breaches, information leaks, or other issues with employees who do not adhere as strictly as they should be. Organizations can avoid costly lawsuits by implementing strict policies and procedures on how their employees handle sensitive personal information about customers.