Access and Feeds

Security and Privacy: Often the Distinction Between the Two Isn’t Understood

By Dick Weisinger

Security and Privacy are two areas that people have strong opinions about, but often there are misunderstandings about the distinction between the two. A study from Carnegie Mellon found that people often think that improved privacy controls means that their data is more secure.

Norman Sadeh, professor at Carnegie Mellon, said that “people know some things about what these tools can do, but they often assume incorrectly that the tools can do other things as well. People who are more familiar with these tools may be more likely to answer a question about them—either correctly or incorrectly—than recognize they are unsure.”

Peter Story, PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, said that “some participants suggested that private browsing, VPNs, and Tor Browser would also protect them from security threats. This misconception might lead risky behavior. We think interventions should warn people not to assume tools do more than they actually do. It seems especially important to remind people that privacy-focused tools like private browsing do not provide security protections, such as against malware.”

The Carnegie Mellon researchers recommend that IT administrators “nudge” users occasionally by providing and promoting security and privacy tools while also explaining practices that will help users better protect themselves.

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