In the first lesson in my information security class I learned how bad the German term "Sicherheit" is, which can be translated to either security or safety, which makes it hard to distinguish between two very different topics, that are often diametral when designing a system.

I was a bit baffled when I tagged a question with , and it got synonymized to . I am not worried about the security of my system at all, but I am certainly worried about the safety of my endeavor.

What was the reason to do this? I don't think it was a good idea and propose to un-synonymize them.

  • 3
    I would assume that people in the past often incorrectly tagged security-related questions with safety. Commented Nov 28, 2013 at 22:27
  • 13
    Safety and Security have no connection with each other in software terms and should be disassociated. I can only assume that the creation of the synonym was by someone with no experience of safety-related software.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Nov 29, 2013 at 15:22
  • @OliverSalzburg Other than the question in question, is there ever a case where "safety" (as a tag) is on-topic? Question 2, is the question in question actually on-topic for Superuser?
    – killermist
    Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 19:39

4 Answers 4


Safety & security are often synonymized in non-computer fields, and to be honest they are similar in many places. Typically, people who need to know the difference, like computer security experts, know the difference, while people who have never tried to secure a system of any type from attack, like regular users (who should still know but often don't) will not know the difference. For another example, from the first comment under this answer, a fire exit would make a building more safe from fires, but less safe from intruders. Occupants of the building typically do not need to know how to do this, as the architect will have done it already.

On the other hand, in some cases these "security experts" will still be making the enclosing more secure, even as they make it safer. They have to do both. For example, a biologist with a specialization in disease would need to make a person more secure from viruses (for example), and this involves plugging up every hole, securing every vector of attack. By definition, this will make the person's body more secure from attack, as well as safer from harm.

It seems more people on Super User are regular users and biologists than we would hope.

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    Having a fire exit in a building makes it safer, but less secure. This isn't only an issue for information security.
    – Baarn
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 14:23
  • Well, they are similar in certain areas outside of computers. Seems to be people only think about the difference between the 2 terms when they are thinking about protecting the place from intruders who can think for themselves (or seem to be able to, i.e. viruses, storms in some cases) and don't just accidentally walk into a place, and otherwise they synonymize the 2 terms. Computer experts & architects need to know the difference; users do not. I guess more people on Superuser are users than we would hope.
    – trysis
    Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 15:20

Because people doesn't know always their proper meaning.

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    That's no reason to make them synonyms, but to write good tag wikis explaining what they are about.
    – Baarn
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 7:40
  • @Baarn I agree - I explained the cause and not the reason.
    – peterh
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 15:20

So, what are we waiting for? Lets de-synonymize!

The issue here is not the definitions of safety and security, but their definitions within the scope of Superuser. (source)




Synonyms for security noun safety, protection

A security guard is to keep you safe, is he not? So I imagine that anywhere in the world, the word security and safety go hand in hand. Well it would be ideal not to auto update it, it does make sense.. it's probably something overlooked in the code/process.

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    Security means protection from malicious intent, safety means protection from malfunction or accidents. I guess most people don't hire security guards to protect them from accidents. While many people may not see much of a difference, the difference is well defined in the computer world.
    – Baarn
    Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 18:45
  • 1
    The issue here is not the definitions of safety and security, but their definitions within the scope of Superuser. Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 19:03

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