What You Need to Know About Data Theft: The Seriousness of Stealing Digital Information

Did you know that data theft is a serious crime? It's true! In fact, data theft is considered a serious security and privacy breach, with potentially severe consequences for individuals and organizations. Data theft is the act of stealing digital information stored on computers, servers, or electronic devices to obtain confidential information or compromise privacy. The data stolen can be anything from bank account information to passwords to software code. If you're not careful, your personal and financial information could be at risk!

What is data theft?

Data theft – also known as information theft – is the illegal transfer or storage of personal, confidential, or financial information. This could include passwords, software code or algorithms, and proprietary processes or technologies. Information theft is a significant security and privacy violation, with potentially severe penalties for both individuals and organizations.

Identity theft

Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves using someone else's personal information – such as their name, Social Security number, or credit card number – without their permission.Identity theft can have a variety of negative consequences for the victim, including financial loss and reputation damage.

Data breach

A data breach occurs when an unauthorized person or entity gains access to confidential information. A data breach can be the result of a data theft, but it can also occur through other means, such as hacking or social engineering.

Data leak

A data leak is the intentional or unintentional release of confidential information. A data leak can occur when data is stolen, but it can also occur through other means, such as negligence or poor security practices.

What are the differences between data leak and identity theft?

Data leaks and identity theft are both significant security and privacy breaches, but they have certain distinctions. Data leak refers to the intentional or unintentional release of sensitive information, whereas identity theft involves obtaining personal data without permission.

What are the differences between a data breach and a data leak?

A data breach is the uncontrolled access to sensitive information, whereas a data leak is the unintentional or purposeful release of confidential facts. Both have significant ramifications for people and businesses, although a data breach is generally considered to be more serious since it involves an illegal intrusion into information.

What are the differences between data breach and identity theft?

A data breach occurs when an unauthorized person or entity gains access to confidential information. A data breach can be the result of a data theft, but it can also occur through other means, such as hacking or social engineering. Identity theft, on the other hand, is a type of fraud that involves using someone else's personal information – such as their name, Social Security number, or credit card number – without their permission.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information – like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number – without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft is a serious offense that can have significant long-term consequences. It can damage your reputation and cost you time and money to fix.

A data breach is a major issue that may have catastrophic consequences for both individuals and organizations. Your personal and financial information may be in danger if you're not vigilant! Take precautions to safeguard yourself. Identity theft is one of the most rapidly-growing offenses in the United States. Every two seconds, someone's personal information is stolen worldwide. In 2018, there were more than 16 million victims of identity fraud in the United States alone. And things are about to get worse: The number of identity theft complaints has risen by over 500% since 2013!

Is Identity Theft a Federal Crime?

Identity theft is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. If you're convicted of identity theft, you could also be required to pay restitution to the victim. This crime includes:

  • Using someone else's personal information without their permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
  • Possessing, using, or trafficking in stolen personal information.
  • Transferring, selling, or otherwise sharing stolen personal information.

Cybercriminals

Cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new ways to steal your personal information. They may use skimming devices to capture your credit card information, or they may send you phishing emails that look like they're from a legitimate company but are actually designed to trick you into giving them your personal information.

It's important to be aware of the signs of identity theft so you can protect yourself. Watch out for strange activity on your accounts, unexpected bills or collection notices, and unfamiliar charges on your credit report. If you see anything that doesn't look right, don't hesitate to contact your financial institution or the credit bureau.

Identity theft is a serious crime with severe consequences. But by taking some simple precautions, you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Types of data theft

There are two main types of data theft: physical and cyber. Physical data theft occurs when someone physically steals a device – like a laptop or an external hard drive – that contains sensitive information. Cyber data theft, on the other hand, is when someone accesses digital information through hacking or malware. Both types of data theft can be devastating, but cyber data theft is often more difficult to detect and can have even more far-reaching consequences.

Database theft

Database theft is the unauthorized access or copying of data from a database. This could be done through hacking, social engineering, or physical theft. Database theft can lead to the loss of confidential information, as well as damage to the reputation of the organization.

Web scraping

Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites. It can be used for a variety of purposes, but it's often used to collect data that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. Web scraping can be done manually, but it's more commonly done with automated software programs. As an example, a company might use web scraping to collect pricing data from competitor websites.

Web scraping can be a valuable tool, but it can also be used for malicious purposes. For example, a cybercriminal could use web scraping to collect sensitive information like credit card numbers or login credentials.

Data mining

Data mining is the process of extracting valuable information from large data sets. It's often used by businesses to find trends and make predictions about future behavior. Data mining can be used for a variety of purposes, including marketing, fraud detection, and risk management.

Data mining can be a useful tool, but it can also be abused. For example, a business might use data mining to illegally gather personal information about customers or employees. Or a criminal might use data mining to find victims for identity theft or fraud.

Phishing

Phishing is a type of cyber attack that involves tricking people into giving up their personal information – usually by clicking on a malicious link or opening an attachment in an email. Phishing attacks are often used to steal login credentials or financial information.

Malware

Malware is a type of malicious software that can be used to infect computers and devices. Malware can be used for a variety of purposes, but it's often used to collect sensitive information or take control of a device remotely.

Viruses

A virus is a type of malware that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another. Viruses are often used to infect computers and devices with malicious code. One of the most famous viruses was the ILOVEYOU virus, which was used to steal login credentials and spread itself through email attachments.

Trojan horses

A Trojan horse is a type of malware that masquerades as legitimate software in order to trick people into installing it on their computers or devices. Once installed, a Trojan horse can give an attacker access to the victim's computer or device.

Spyware

Spyware is a type of malware that is used to collect information about a person or organization without their knowledge. Spyware can be used to track someone's online activity, steal login credentials, or collect financial information. A case in point was the malware known as "stealer" allows cybercriminals to empty a person's bank account by intercepting their text messages.

Keyloggers

A keylogger is a type of spyware that records everything someone types on their keyboard. Keyloggers can be used to collect sensitive information, such as login credentials and credit card numbers. One example, was the discovery in 2017 of a keylogger called "KeyRaider" that affected over 225,000 Apple devices.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a person's files and demands a ransom in order to decrypt them. Ransomware attacks are often used to extort money from victims, but they can also lead to the loss of important data.

Signs of data theft

There are several signs that you may be a victim of data theft:

  • You receive unexpected bills or credit card statements: If you see charges on your statements that you don't recognize, it's possible that your information has been stolen and used without your knowledge.
  • You get calls from unknown numbers: If you're getting calls from unfamiliar numbers, it could be someone trying to scam you or collect on fraudulent charges.
  • You notice strange activity on your computer: If your computer is acting strangely – like running slowly or crashing more often than usual – it could be a sign that malware has been installed without your knowledge.
  • You notice strange activity on your bank account or credit cards: If you see unauthorized transactions on your accounts, it's a clear sign that your information has been stolen.

If you notice any of these signs, it's important to take action immediately. The sooner you act, the better chance you have of recovering from data theft.

History of identity crimes and data theft

Identity theft is not a new crime, but it has become more prevalent in recent years as a result of the increase in electronic transactions and the proliferation of personal information online. One of the earliest recorded cases of identity theft occurred in 1809, when Englishman William Henry Perkin used someone else's name to obtain a loan.

In the early days of computing, data breaches were often caused by insiders who had access to sensitive information. In 1983, for example, employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory sold classified information about nuclear weapons to the Soviet Union. This resulted in a congressional investigation and the firing of several employees.

In the 1990s, data breaches began to be caused by hackers who gained access to systems through the internet. In 1999, for example, hackers stole credit card numbers from CD Universe and used them to make nearly $50,000 in fraudulent purchases.

The 2000s saw a sharp increase in data breaches, with high-profile incidents occurring almost every year. In 2005, for example, personal information – including Social Security numbers – of over 145 million people was stolen in the largest data breach ever at that time. The following year, another massive data breach occurred at TJX Companies, Inc., resulting in the theft of over 45 million credit and debit card numbers.

More recently, there have been a number of high-profile data breaches at major companies, such as Equifax, Yahoo!, and Target. In 2013, Target suffered a data breach, in which thieves stole the credit and debit card information of more than 40 million customers. In 2017, the personal information of over 145 million people was stolen in the Equifax data breach, making it one of the largest data breaches in history.

In addition to the financial cost of recovering from a data breach, there is also the risk of reputational damage. For example, the Equifax data breach, the company's stock price fell by nearly 20% in the wake of the breach, and its CEO was forced to step down.

Another example for the same year was the WannaCry ransomware attack infected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries and caused billions of dollars in damages. The attack was made possible by a flaw in Microsoft's Windows operating system that was exploited by hackers.

The last major example of identity theft was in 2018, when the personal information of over 500 million people was stolen in the Marriott data breach. The Marriott data breach is the largest data breach ever, and it exposed a number of sensitive pieces of information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, and credit card numbers.

Clients lose all their credibility and business with the firm if they discover a data breach. It's critical to have a safe system in place, as well as train staff on data security guidelines.

Common causes of data breaches

There are many ways that data theft can occur. Some common causes of data breaches include:

  • Hacking: Hackers can gain access to systems and devices to steal information.
  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of online fraud where criminals send fake emails or texts in an attempt to collect personal information like login credentials or credit card numbers.
  • Malware: Malware is computer software that may be harmful to a device and allow attackers to gain entry to confidential information.

An example of a hacking data breach was the cyberattack on Target in 2013. Hackers were able to gain access to Target's computer systems and steal the personal information of over 70 million people.

An example of a phishing data breach was the one that occurred in 2017 to Netflix users. Cybercriminals sent fake emails to Netflix customers that looked like they were from the company. The emails asked for personal information, such as credit card numbers and login credentials.

Finally, an example of a malware data breach is what happened to Equifax in 2017. Hackers were able to install malware on Equifax's systems that allowed them to gain access to the personal information of over 145 million people.

What are the consequences of identity theft?

Identity theft can have a serious impact on your life. It can damage your credit, cost you money, and even land you in jail. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that victims of identity theft spend an average of $500 to $600 to fix the problems caused by the crime. And that's not counting any money you may lose if your bank account or credit card is used fraudulently.

Identity theft can also have a lasting impact on your credit score. If your information is used to open new accounts in your name, for example, it can take years to recover from the damage to your credit.

In some cases, identity theft can even lead to criminal charges being filed against you. If someone uses your personal information to commit a crime, you could be arrested and charged with that crime – even if you had nothing to do with it.

The following are a selection of potential consequences that individuals and organizations may encounter as a result of data theft:

Potential lawsuits from customers whose information has been exposed: Organizations that suffer a data breach may face lawsuits from customers whose information was exposed. In some cases, these lawsuits may be class-action lawsuits involving large numbers of people. ● Potential fines from regulatory agencies: Organizations that suffer a data breach may also be subject to fines from regulatory agencies, such as the FTC or the Justice Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR). ● Damage to reputation: Data breaches can damage an organization's reputation and make it difficult to regain customers' trust. ● Loss of business: Organizations that suffer a data breach may also lose business as a result of the breach. ● Ransomware demands from attackers: Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts an organization's data and demands a ransom be paid to decrypt it. In some cases, attackers may also threaten to release the organization's data publicly if their demands are not met. ● Recovery costs – for example, restoring or patching systems that have been breached: Organizations that suffer a data breach may also incur costs for recovering from the breach. These costs can include restoring or patching systems that have been breached, as well as hiring external consultants to help with the recovery process. ● Reputational damage and loss of customers: Individuals whose personal information is exposed in a data breach may suffer reputational damage as a result of the breach. They may also lose business or opportunities as a result of the breach. ● Fines or penalties from regulatory bodies (depending on the industry): Individuals or organizations that suffer a data breach may also be subject to fines or penalties from regulatory bodies, depending on the industry. ● Downtime while data is recovered: Organizations that suffer a data breach may also experience downtime while they are recovering their data. This downtime can cost the organization money and disrupt its operations.

Most commonly stolen types of data

The type of data stolen in a data theft incident depends on the motives of the attacker. However, some of the most commonly stolen types of data include: ● Financial information like credit card numbers or bank account login credentials: Because this information is so valuable, it's frequently stolen in order to perpetrate fraud or theft. ● Personal information like Social Security numbers or driver's license numbers: Stealing data of this sort is often used to carry out identity theft. ● Health information like insurance policy numbers or medical records: This type of data is often stolen in order to commit fraud or sell the information on the black market. ● Business information like customer lists or proprietary secrets: This type of data is often stolen in order to gain a competitive advantage or commit espionage. ● Customer records: Customer records are a type of business information that is often stolen in data theft incidents. These records can include customer names, addresses, phone numbers, and credit card numbers. ● Source codes and algorithms: Source codes and algorithms are types of software that are often stolen in data theft incidents. These codes and algorithms can be used to create new products or services or gain a competitive advantage. ● Proprietary processes: Proprietary processes are types of information that are often stolen in data theft incidents. These processes can be used to create new products or services or gain a competitive advantage. ● HR records and employee data: HR records and employee data are often stolen in data theft incidents. These records can include employee names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, and driver's license numbers.

Data theft may result in significant consequences for the victim including financial loss, public humiliation, and legal responsibility. Financial data, personal information, health information, and commercial information are the most commonly stolen kinds of data. It is critical that you put in place security procedures like data encryption and access control to avoid data theft. Additionally, you should instruct your staff on how to detect and report data theft incidents so that they can protect their company.

Identity crimes

Identity theft is often used to commit other crimes, like:

  • Credit card fraud: This is when someone uses your stolen credit card information to make unauthorized charges.
  • Bank fraud: This is when someone uses your stolen bank account information to withdraw money or make unauthorized transactions.
  • Tax fraud: This is when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return in your name and collect your refund.
  • Employment fraud: This is when someone uses your stolen personal information to get a job or open a new account in your name.

Many individuals are negligent of data security as a result of too much pressure. Given this fact, be sure you understand the criticality of data security and take appropriate measures to avoid data breaches. If you suspect that your personal information has been stolen, do not wait any longer to take action.

If you think you may have been a victim of data theft, there are a few things you can do:

  • Contact your bank or credit card company right away: If you think your financial information has been stolen, it's important to act quickly because criminals could use it to commit fraud or make unauthorized charges.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus: This can help you keep an eye on your credit report for signs of identity theft.
  • File a police report: This can be helpful if you need to provide proof that you were a victim of data theft.
  • File a complaint with the FTC: The FTC can help you take steps to recover from identity theft and also prevent it from happening again in the future.

Why is important to report to the Federal Trade Commission?

The FTC is the nation's lead consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free.

Reporting data theft incidents to the FTC can help you take steps to recover from identity theft and also prevent it from happening again in the future. The FTC can provide you with resources and information that can be helpful in recovering from data theft and preventing it from happening again. By reporting data theft incidents to the FTC, you can help protect yourself and others from becoming victims of identity theft.

How To Prevent Physical Data Theft

To prevent physical data theft, it's important to keep your devices – and the information they contain – safe. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your devices in a secure location when you're not using them: If you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone that contains sensitive information, be sure to keep it in a safe place when you're not using it.
  • Use a strong password or passcode to protect your device: A strong password or passcode can help prevent criminals from accessing the information on your device if it's lost or stolen.
  • Encrypt your data to make it more difficult for thieves to access: Data encryption is a process that makes it difficult for anyone who doesn't have the right key to access the information on your device.

How To Prevent Cyber Data Theft

  • Change your passwords. If you believe your personal information has been stolen, be sure to change your passwords for all online accounts.

Install security software. Installing security software on your devices can help protect against future data theft attempts.

  • Keep your computer and mobile devices up-to-date with the latest security patches and software updates. This will help close any gaps that criminals could exploit to gain access to your devices.
  • Install and use trusted security software, like antivirus and antispyware programs. These programs can help detect and remove malware before it can steal your data.
  • Back up your data. Regularly backing up your data can help you recover from a data loss incident caused by theft, malware, or other disasters.
  • Be careful about what you share online, especially on social networking sites.
  • Think twice before posting personal information or sharing sensitive information.
  • Beware of phishing scams. Don't click on links or open attachments from unknown senders.

Data theft is a major hazard for both people and organizations. Taking precautions to protect your data, as well as being aware of indicators of data theft, might help you avoid becoming a victim. If you believe you've been a victim of data theft, contact the authorities right away.

Conclusion

Data theft is a problematic issue that is only getting worse as we become increasingly reliant on digital devices. Having our personal information stolen can lead to a host of problems, including identity theft, financial fraud, and emotional distress. By taking steps to prevent data theft and being aware of the signs that it has occurred, we can help protect ourselves and our loved ones from becoming victims.If you believe you've been a victim of data theft, contact the authorities immediately. Stay informed about the latest data theft news and tips by following the FTC, and keep an eye in your personal accounts.

Apr 24, 2020

Have never given PC security much…

Have never given PC security much thought. Usually just download a free one! The last couple of years the free ones have annoyed me so much with their constant advertisements for themselves etc, that I removed them from my computer. It was great to discover Guardio, It has been a relief having it with so much going on in the world and so many nasty people scamming innocent people. It's great when I think I want to click on a site and a Guardio message come up saying they believe it is a dangerous site so I don't go there.

1 Reviews

Merle Hudson

Trustpilot

I like the reassurance I have that Guardio is checking up on things for me! They have prevented me from opening some links that were suspicious before I opened them! That was awesome! They also have removed some issues for me. Definitely worth the money!

1

Dorothy Carlisle

Facebook
May 3, 2020

Best site security I have found.

1 Reviews

Steve Popz May

Trustpilot