What it is
An information leak is when your private information gets released online without your permission. It can happen through an incident like a data breach – when a business or organisation is targeted by an online security incident, and people's personal information is stolen from their system. This information is valuable, and it can be traded or sold online.
Common types of information leak
The type of information that's leaked depends on where it came from. It could be:
- personal information – like your name, date of birth and address
- medical records
- financial information
- account details – like usernames, passwords, and often email addresses (this is called a credential dump).
The impact of an information leak will vary depending on what kind of information was released. For example, a credential dump could let someone access any of your other online accounts that use the same username and password. An attacker could use this information to access your email account and send spam or phishing emails from your email address. Or, they could use this information to access your other online services, like your internet banking.
Even basic personal information can be used by attackers. They can impersonate you online or use the info to open debit accounts in your name.