What is Security? Definition and examples

Security is all about being safe, i.e., free from danger, harm, or fear. Security is a fundamental concept that is important to us individually, nationally, and globally. An example of security’s global importance is addressing climate change and the potential adverse consequences it might entail.

We can achieve security in different ways, depending on the nature and context of the threat. Security, in general, is all about protecting what is important to us. We all want to be able to pursue our goals without exposing ourselves to excessive risks.

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Security seen from various perspectives

Security can mean different things to different people, depending on their context.

Personal security, for example, is all about protecting a person’s health and wellbeing, or even their life. In this kind of security, the focus is on access to basic necessities such as food, shelter, safety, and medical care.

National security is quite different. Here, we are looking at protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also includes securing the well-being of a country’s citizens.

Military defense, diplomacy, and intelligence gathering are some of the components of national security.

Intelligence, in this context, refers to secret information about other countries’ governments, especially those we see as our enemies. Intelligence also includes the people who gather this intelligence, i.e., spies. James Bond, the fictional British spy, works in intelligence.

Security in banking

In the world of finance and banking, security may refer to an asset that is pledged or deposited as a guarantee on a loan. It is also called collateral. I might offer my house as security on a loan, which means that if I am unable to pay back the money, the bank can seize my home.

The Cambridge Dictionary has the following definition of security:

“1. Protection of a person, building, organization, or country against threats such as crime or attacks by foreign countries. 2. The group of people responsible for protecting a building.”

“3. Property or goods that you promise to give to someone if you cannot pay what you owe them.”

Three categories

Security covers three main categories: physical, cyber, and economic:

  • Physical

This type refers to the protection of people from physical harm. It also includes protecting property and other assets from physical damage, theft, and other hazards.

If your job includes installing alarms, locks, surveillance systems, or training bodyguards, you are involved in physical security.

  • Cyber

Cybersecurity is all about protecting computers, networks and IT systems, and information from unauthorized damage or access. Experts say it also includes protection from accidental damage, such as erasing great chunks of data by mistake, by having a good backup system.

People who work in the creation of firewalls, software updates, and encryption are involved in cybersecurity.

  • Economic

Economic security is all about protecting people’s, companies’, and a country’s ability to prosper. It includes such measures as social safety nets and ensuring citizens have access to good quality education and healthcare.

If your government prioritizes being able to feed itself, it focuses on food security, which is part of economic security.

Circumstances change, as do threats

What was a danger yesterday, may not be a threat today or tomorrow. New dangers may emerge that never existed before. Computer hacking, which is a serious threat for many companies and governments today, did not exist a century ago.

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) forced governments across the world to focus on public health security by introducing physical distancing, lockdowns, the compulsory wearing of face masks indoors, and vaccination programs.

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As mentioned earlier, security is all about protecting what is important to us and making sure that we can thrive and prosper without undue risk or interference. It is an ongoing and ever-evolving process that requires constant adaptation and attention to new threats.