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Data breaches and data leaks are related but different concepts. If you think of your data as being protected behind a door, a data breach equals getting past that door, while a leak reveals or uses what was previously private.

Both data breaches and data leaks can be dangerous, but one follows the other. They have similar yet different preventative measures. 

Key Takeaways:

  • A data breach is about accessing data, while a data leak is unwanted data exposure.
  • Data breaches are often intentional, while data leaks can be unintentional.
  • A privacy leak is the first step to exposing more users to data hacks and breaches.
  • Whether you were affected or are just exploring options, you can check your eligibility for compensation.

Data Breach vs. Data Leak Explained

A data breach is the unauthorized access to private or sensitive data, often involving deliberate intent and effort. It is usually the result of a cyberattack, searching and exploiting security vulnerabilities, or using social engineering to trick administrators and users. Consequently, data is stolen or copied by attackers or recipients, making it completely accessible for hackers’ use or others.

A data leak is the exposure of private or sensitive data, sometimes unintentionally due to human or system errors. It can be caused by misconfigured systems, accidental sharing, security flaws, or a lack of personal awareness and training. Consequently, data remains within the home system but is made visible to unauthorized individuals. If the result of a data breach, the copied data is now made public and open to view by all those who may be interested.

Data Breach vs. Data Leak Definitions

A data breach is about breaking into a room to get the valuables inside. 

  • For the most part, data breach prevention is beyond one’s control. It depends on the security of the platform that contains your data. 
  • You can make it harder for you to be the vector for a data breach by making your account more secure.  

A data leak equals leaving a door open or having a window inside a room.

  • You may easily cause data leaks yourself. To prevent this from happening, make sure you only publicly share the data you feel is safe to publish. 
  • Protecting your accounts and limiting the personal information you share can reduce the amount of info that can be harvested from your online presence.

Is there any compensation for a data breach vs. for a data leak?

It’s common for both large-scale data breaches and data leaks to result in compensation for affected individuals. The exact data breach and data leak settlement amounts may vary based on factors like the user’s location and the extent of the data breach or data leak.

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Am I Affected?

If you were affected, you should receive a data breach notification letter within 72 hours of its discovery. But, there have already been cases when these notices don’t get sent out at all, either as part of a cover-up to protect the company’s image or to avoid identifying users who might be entitled to compensation. So in case of a data leak, it’s a smart move to fill out the form and join the claim regardless. 

What To Do?

Whether you believe you were affected or are just exploring your options, you can quickly and easily check your eligibility and compensation amount with our quick data breach checker. In under two minutes, you’ll know how much money you can get and will be able to claim compensation. Give it a try!

Data Leak vs. Others

Data breaches and data leaks are known by various names, which can make things confusing. Some of these names mean the same thing, while others are a bit different. We explain and compare these terms below.

Data Breaches and Data Leaks Types

Here are some common types of data breaches that occur online:

  • Data Hack and Malware – When direct cyberattacks and downloaded malware can break open cybersecurity protections.
  • Software Exploitation – Unpatched software or website vulnerabilities are exploited by hackers to access privileged information.
  • Phishing and Stolen Credentials – The use of stolen data for identity theft and gaining access to users’ accounts.
  • Social Engineering – This refers to fooling otherwise authorized users to allow them to gain control over high-level accounts.
  • Third-Party Incidents – When data released to third parties is unsecured or given in contravention of privacy regulations.

Here are some common types of data leaks you may encounter:

  • Unsecured Communications – When emails and communications are not encrypted or are sent to multiple uninvolved people.
  • Accidental Public Release – When someone makes a mistake and sends private information out to public view.
  • Deliberate Info Leak – When there is a deliberate attempt to leak privileged information for profit, clout, agendas, or some other motivation.
  • Wiretapping/Eavesdropping – Communications that are weakly or not encrypted can also be intercepted and read by prepared individuals.

Data Breach and Data Leak Causes

A data breach is an intrusion. Therefore, it can happen through various deliberate means, such as:

  • Cyberattacks and malware,
  • Social engineering scams,
  • Stolen or spoofed credentials,
  • Internal insider actions,
  • Or non-compliance with regulatory laws.

A data leak is a disclosure. Therefore, it can occur through the means listed above, but also through accidental means like:

  • Leaving accounts logged in and unattended,
  • Logging into active accounts in lost or stolen devices,
  • Leaving databases unencrypted or open to access,
  • Giving employees easy access to user accounts,
  • Improperly configuring private settings to public,
  • Accidentally sending information to everyone,
  • Having someone harvest and compile public data,
  • Someone posting private data into a public space,
  • And so on.

Data Leaks Examples

Check out these real-world examples to get a more practical understanding of how data leaks work, what happens in case of a data leak, and what we can learn from these examples. 


Data breaches and data leaks are similar, and the information that comes out of them can be put to dangerous use. 

While data breaches require proactive defense and constant monitoring to protect against malicious actors, data leaks require internal controls and self-awareness about making sure your data goes where it should be going.

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Are you missing out on other data breach payouts? Try our compensation calculator and find out now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to minimize or prevent Data breach impact?

Using virtual payment cards with spending limits and unique email addresses for different services can greatly reduce the risks of data breaches. Disposable virtual cards protect your financial details, while custom email addresses (like “”) help identify compromised services. These strategies add security layers, minimizing the impact of breaches on your personal and financial data.

What to do after a data breach?

In case of a data breach, promptly change your passwords on the affected accounts, making them strong and unique. Activate two-factor authentication for added security. Monitor your financial statements and credit reports for any unusual activity. Alert your bank or credit card provider about potential fraud. Be cautious of phishing scams following the breach and consider a credit freeze. Finally, report the incident to the appropriate authorities.

What is a Data breach notice?

A data breach notice is an official alert sent by an organization to individuals whose personal data, including potentially compromised passwords, may have been exposed in a security breach. Such a notice can often follow warnings from services like Apple or Google indicating that “this password appeared in a data leak.” It details the nature of the breach, affected data types, potential risks, and the organization’s remedial actions. The notice advises on protective measures, such as changing passwords and monitoring credit reports to mitigate harm.

Can I sue, and how to join a class action lawsuit?

Yes, you can sue for a data breach. With Remunzo, joining an active class action lawsuit is easy. Check your eligibility on our platform, and if your case is active, you can join the lawsuit. Remunzo handles all legal proceedings and negotiations for a settlement. These processes can take some time, but we keep you updated throughout. Use our Quick Data Leak Checker to see if you qualify to join and claim compensation.

When will I get paid the data breach settlement?

The time it takes to receive a data breach settlement payment varies, often taking several months after a settlement is reached. Factors like case complexity, number of claimants, and legal procedures affect the timeline. Remunzo will keep you informed about the settlement progress, but patience is key as these processes can be lengthy.


  1. Personal data Breach [Internet]. European Data Protection Supervisor. 2024. Available from:
  2. Oaic. Notifiable data breaches [Internet]. OAIC. 2023. Available from:
  3. BBC News. How safe is my data after a hack or leak? BBC News [Internet]. 2023 Aug 9; Available from:


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