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11 Data Breach Examples

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A data breach is the download or viewing of data by someone who isn't authorized to access it. The term applies to personally identifiable data and confidential data that is access controlled. Once data is leaked, there is effectively no way for an organization to control its spread and use. The following are illustrative examples of a data breach.

Trade Secrets

An employee emails trade secrets to her friend who isn't authorized to access it.


A salesperson loses an folder filled with business cards of customers.

Financial Credentials

A retailer loses the financial credentials of millions of customers to an advanced persistent threat.

Authentication Credentials

An email service is hacked resulting in the loss of authentication credentials such as passwords.


A video chat app losses videos of millions of personal conversations due to a security flaw in its public API.

Medical Data

A doctor sends a patient someone else's medical data.

Personal Data

A virus allows an individual to look at the files on a person's mobile device including photos, contacts, communications and receipts of financial transactions.


A cloud storage app is hacked resulting in the publication of private photos to the public.

Employee Records

A technician loses a backup containing thousands of employee records including highly confidential details such as salary and medical insurance claims.


A computer is stolen from an office that contains the confidential product design of an upcoming mobile device.

Financial Data

An employee in accounting mistypes an email address and accidentally sends confidential information regarding a company's quarterly financial results to an outside domain.
Overview: Data Breach
An incident that results in confidential data potentially being viewed, used or downloaded by an entity that isn't authorized to do so.
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Information Security

This is the complete list of articles we have written about information security.
Audit Trail
Canary Trap
Confidential Information
Critical Infrastructure
Cryptographic Keys
Cryptographic Salt
Cybersecurity Risk
Data Breach
Data Remanence
Data Room
Data Security
Deep Magic
Defense In Depth
Digital Identity
Failure Of Imagination
Incident Response
IoT Security
Key Stretching
Network Security
Operations Security
Overlay Network
Password Entropy
Password Fatigue
Proof Of Work
Secure Code Review
Security As A Service
Security Controls
More ...
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