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Data theft

(also data breach, information theft)

Data theft definition

Data theft is the unlawful acquisition, duplication, or dissemination of confidential information, typically carried out with malicious motives or financial gain. This can transpire through various means, such as cyberattacks, insider threats, or physically stealing devices that store sensitive data. The stolen information can encompass personal particulars, financial records, intellectual property, or trade secrets, causing significant economic damage and reputational harm to individuals and organizations.

See also: data breach, synthetic identity theft

Data theft examples

  • Phishing attacks: Cybercriminals use deceptive emails or websites to trick users into revealing sensitive information, like login credentials or financial data.
  • Insider threats: A disgruntled or malicious employee may intentionally steal sensitive data from their employer for personal gain or to inflict damage.
  • Physical theft: Thieves may steal devices, such as laptops or hard drives, containing sensitive information.

Preventing data theft

  • Use strong, unique passwords for all accounts and enable multi-factor authentication where possible.
  • Encrypt sensitive data and use a secure VPN to protect your internet connection.
  • Regularly update software and operating systems to patch security vulnerabilities.
  • Educate employees on security best practices and implement strict access controls.