Data Theft

Why Trust Techopedia

What Does Data Theft Mean?

Data theft is the illegal transfer or storage of any information that is confidential, personal, or financial in nature, including passwords, software code, or algorithms, proprietary process-oriented information, or technologies.


Considered a serious security and privacy breach, the consequences of data theft can be severe for individuals and businesses.

Techopedia Explains Data Theft

Common modes of data theft are as follows:

  • USB drive – Using the thumb-sucking technique, the information can be moved to a thumb drive or USB drive. It is considered as the easiest method of data theft as the storage capacity of USB devices are increasing over time with the cost decreasing.
  • Portable hard drive – Large information can be transferred using portable hard drive
  • Devices using memory cards,PDAs – Pod slurping is possible with devices using memory cards and PDAs
  • Email – Another popular way of transmitting information is through emails.
  • Printing – Another method used in data theft is by printing information and illegally storing or distributing the same.
  • Remote sharing – Using remote access, data can be transferred to another location from where the data can be distributed.
  • Malware attack – Malware attacks are potentially capable of extracting sensitive information.

How data theft can be prevented:

  • Encryption of confidential information or personal information.
  • Data management system to have necessary security measures to ensure the corporate files are not moved or accessed illegally.
  • Periodic reviews on devices and systems which can pose high risk.
  • Usage of restricted network in organization.
  • Restricted usage of devices capable of data storage.
  • Laptop lockdown and biometric security measures.
  • Protecting confidential and personal information using password.
  • Use of anti-malware software.

Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.