Wāwāhinga raraunga

Data breaches

A data breach is when information held by an organisation is stolen or accessed without authorisation.

What it is

Data breaches happen when private information held by an organisation is:

  • compromised or stolen, usually by unauthorised access to systems
  • released by accident, for example in an email to the wrong person.

The risks

Data breaches can happen to any business or organisation, large or small. The kind of information that’s released is usually:

  • data that can identify particular individuals, known as personally identifiable information (PII)
  • personal health information (PHI)
  • trade secrets or intellectual property (IP)
  • embarrassing information used to harm a brand or people.

For businesses, a data breach poses both a financial and reputational risk. It can mean that customers lose trust in the business, their brand, or see the business as being unethical.