Privacy piracy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Privacy Piracy is a term used in relation to identity theft and/or protection of personal information. Identity theft can be done on a large scale by hacking a corporation to obtain customer credit card numbers and associated personal information. On a smaller scale, attackers would target individuals. Both of these approaches utilizes techniques such as malware or phishing.

Large Scale Data Breaches[edit]

In a larger data breach the data of millions of consumers can be stolen. In the recent Home Depot security breach 56 million payment cards and 53 million email addresses were stolen.[1] There have been many cases like this. Some targets have been corporations, while others have been Governmental departments on a global scale.[2] Banking institutions have also been affected.[3] Frequently hackers target either debit or credit card information. Recently hackers have also been focusing on records that include personal information, especially records that contain Social Insurance Numbers, names, addresses and birth date, such as medical records.[4] With this type of information it is very easy to steal an identity. Hackers who specialize in identity theft target large storehouses of personal data. After harvesting this information, they may sell it to others to turn a quick profit.[5]


Malware, or malicious software, can be used to gain access to a computer or network and gain access to personal information needed for identity theft. Malware can also be used as a method to gain control of a computer, allowing a hacker access to the processing power of a larger network. On a larger network it also grants the ability to run an SQL injection on the databases within the network. An SQL injection is a series of commands that forces a database to surrender the data it contains.[6] A malware attack was responsible for the Target data breach over the 2013 Thanksgiving weekend that resulted in 70 million customers information being stolen.[7]


This method of attack relies on falsified trusted websites or email that appears originate from a trusted source.These attacks are used to collect either login or account information. A traditional phishing attack is sent out to a wide range of recipients, as not all users will be caught in the net. Spear phishing is the name for a very sophisticated deception directed at users of closed networks. This type of complex phishing may provide access to the databases of large corporations, or Governmental Departments.[8]

Other Applications[edit]

The phrase has also been used in several different ways and contexts, including:

  • A description of what corporations can legally do with your personal data while keeping within their privacy policies.[9]
  • The name of a weekly show by Mari Frank on the Irvine, California college radio station KUCI.[10]
  • The title of a booklet on identity theft by Mari Frank and Beth Givens.[11][12]
  • A term used by advertising company Phorm to refer to pro-privacy campaigners.[13]


  1. ^ Gambino, Lauren. "Home Depot reveals hackers stole 53m email addresses during data breach". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  2. ^ McCandless, David. "Worlds Biggest Data Breaches". Information is Beautiful. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Swearingen, Jake. "Why the JP Morgan Data Breach Is Like No Other". The Atlantic. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Riley, Michael; Robertson, Jordan. "Why Would Chinese Hackers Steal Millions of Medical Records?". Bloomberg. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Perlroth, Nicole. "Russian Hackers Amass Over a Billion Internet Passwords". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Menegaz, Gery. "SQL Injection Attack: What is it, and how to prevent it.". ZDNet. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Riley, Michael; Elgin, Ben; Lawrence, Dune; Matlack, Carol. "Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It". Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Hoffman, Chris. "HTG Explains: What Spear Phishing Attacks Are and Why They’re Taking Down Big Corporations". How To Geek. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Holtzman, David (2006-07-24). "The Privacy Pirates". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  10. ^ Overley, Jeff (2006-11-11). "Thieves rip off hundreds at pumps". OC Register. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  11. ^ Bigelow, Bruce (2006-08-01). "Her Passion is Privacy: Public interest group founder helps consumers deal with information age's dark side". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  12. ^ Frank, Mari; Givens, Beth (1999). Privacy Piracy: A Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft. ASIN B0006RBAX8. 
  13. ^ Neate, Rupert (2009-04-28). "Phorm chief labels critics 'serial agitators'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 

External links[edit]