Security - Term Overview

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The term security comes from the Latin securitas, which translates "to be without care", that is, to feel safe, and we commonly use it in a very similar sense: that of the absence of risks or dangers. It's a concept closely linked to trust and prevention, the strict meaning of which may vary depending on the field of human knowledge from which it's approached.

In a general sense, security is the object of study of security sciences, an interdisciplinary field of study focused on the evaluation, management or prevention of risks in human, environmental or other matters.

According to this approach, security consists of containing risks within levels considered normal or acceptable, since risk can never be completely eliminated in any context.

In some national laws, security is defined in legal terms, in order to have public elements to guarantee it. In the case of the Argentine constitution, for example, it's defined as a condition based on the right that protects freedom, life and heritage, as well as democratic institutions.

Importance of safety and security

Safety is considered a fundamental human condition, understood as not being under imminent risk of persecution, illness or death. It's among the "deficit needs" at the base of Maslow's Pyramid, and according to Malinowski theories, it's one of the seven basic needs of the human being.

This is because, in order to make the most of human capacities, it's necessary to take a minimum security for granted, which has to do with physical protection, that is, the continuity of their existence. No one in danger of death can do anything other than to get to safety.

Security types

There are very different types of security, depending on the aspect of life to which they refer. For example:

  • National security, when it comes to the defense of the strategic interests of a nation, inside and outside its territory, as well as the safeguarding of its sovereignty and political stability.
  • Legal security, when we speak of the principle of law, based on the "certainty of the law", and which consists of the public possibility of knowing or knowing what is considered prohibited or permitted by the public powers. In other words, it's about the certainty that the State offers citizens that the law, as it's known to all, will be complied with correctly in their case.
  • Citizen security, when it refers to the action of the State and the citizenry itself to guarantee the prevalence of social peace, the eradication of violence and fundamental guarantees. It generally refers to a set of democratic actions designed to protect citizens.
  • Social security, also called “social security”, when it comes to covering the population's health, old age and disability needs, which are considered to be of social interest, that is, common to all and therefore merit collective protection.
  • Occupational safety, also known as " occupational health ", when it concerns the conditions and risks inherent to a professional occupation or a job trade, and which normally arise from the employment agreement between the employer and the employee.
  • Road safety, when they have to do with the mechanisms and procedures designed to guarantee the good circulation of traffic, thus avoiding accidents and situations in which vehicles become a danger for their occupants and for others.
  • Computer security, also called "cybersecurity", when it has to do with the protection of data and the computing infrastructure of a specific computer system, defending it from malicious software and hacker attacks.
  • Biosafety, when it comes to the set of protocols, measures and mechanisms aimed at protecting the public from contagion and transmission of diseases, or from contact with toxic or allergic substances that put health at risk.

Risk, threat and vulnerability

Close to the concept of security and the interests of security sciences, these three concepts deserve a separate definition:

  • Risk: Risk can be defined as the probability that, in a given situation and involving certain elements, damage occurs. In other words, by "risk" we mean the feasibility of a danger turning into damage. Thus, there are high and low risks, and risks related to employment, economics, health, etc.
  • Threat: A threat is, for its part, an actor or a set of conditions in which a risk becomes manifest. That is, the elements that cause the appearance of risks, due to their own nature, or to a role they fulfill within a given context. A car can be a threat, for example, if the driver is drunk.
  • Vulnerability: Finally, we speak of vulnerability to refer to a condition or situation of greater or lesser propensity or defenselessness in the face of risks and threats. The more vulnerable you are to a risk, the greater the chances of suffering damage, and / or the greater the damage that can be suffered. It's precisely the opposite of security.

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