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The terms data leak and data loss are sometimes used interchangeably, with Data Loss Prevention Tools (DLP) being more about preventing data leaks. 

If you imagine a data breach as someone breaking down your door, a data leak equals leaving that door open or someone peeping through the window, while a data loss is just outright theft or burning the room down. Technically speaking, if you still have your data, it is not lost, but it can still be stolen. 

If with other forms of data hacks, you at least still have your own copy of your data, with a data loss, you have to deal with the destruction of your data and grieve if you haven’t backed it up. 

In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between a data leak and a data loss, how both happen, and how they may be prevented.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Data leaks can happen by intent or accidentally.
  2. Data losses can also happen by intent or accidentally.
  3. Data leaks are about revealing information by accident, for personal agenda, or for profit.
  4. Data losses are about losing your data or being held hostage by malicious actors.
  5. Whether you were affected or are just exploring options, you can check your eligibility for compensation.

Data Breach vs. Data Loss Explained

A data leak is the exposure of private or sensitive data caused by technical glitches, human error, or security gaps. Consequently, data remains within the home system but is visible to unauthorized users. Alternatively, it may be ‘out in the wild’ and reposted to the public sphere. 

A data loss is the loss of data, either through accidental damage, data corruption, deletion, malware, or the loss of access to physical hardware. Consequently, data, if not recovered, will be lost by its owner.

Data Breach vs. Data Loss Definitions

A data leak means: 

  • Unauthorized users gaining access to your private information without them having to directly compromise your systems. 
  • Metaphor: A door or window is left open.

A data loss means: 

  • The danger of the unwanted disappearance or corruption of data, either due to system failures, human errors, or malicious attacks. 
  • Metaphor: The ice in the refrigerator has melted. The valuables are gone.

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

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

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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 Breach vs. Data Loss vs. Others

Both data breaches and data losses 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 vs. Data Losses Types

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

  • Insecure messaging – Communications may be sent unintentionally to the wrong people or sent out on an unsecured network.
  • Accidental disclosure – When information is unintentionally set public.
  • Intentional info leak – When the leak is done intentionally. 
  • Interception – Communications that are weakly or not encrypted can also be intercepted and read by prepared individuals.

Here are some of the most common types of data losses you may face:

  • Hardware failure – When drives wear out or accidental damage happens. Data corruption may also happen through network interference or sudden power loss. 
  • Software failure – Glitching software can also introduce errors. 
  • Human error – The accidental deletion or loss of devices containing important data.
  • External action – Data hacks, viruses, malware, or ransomware.

Data Breach vs. Data Loss Causes

Data leaks can be caused by:

  • Unattended Accounts and Lost Devices – Leaving accounts logged in and unattended or active on lost or stolen devices can lead to unauthorized access and data exposure.
  • Unencrypted Databases and Overly Permissive Access – Databases and file storage left unencrypted or open to access, as well as giving employees too much access to user accounts can increase the risks of data leaks from insider threats or external access.
  • Privacy Misconfiguration and Accidental File Sharing – Improperly configured private settings could inadvertently expose sensitive data, while accidentally sending out private data constitutes an unintentional data leak.
  • Harvesting Public Data and Posting Private Data – Public data could be aggregated into a database that would leave many users vulnerable, and posting private data into the public space could expose affected individuals to identity theft, scams, and reputation damage.
  • Cyberattack – Serious cyberattack risks, such as phishing attacks, malware infections, ransomware attacks, and sophisticated social engineering tactics, contribute to data breaches and data leaks.

Data losses can be caused by:

  • Human Error – Unintentionally removing/deleting/overwriting files or data without a backup.
  • Hardware Failure – Malfunctioning or damaged hardware data storage components like hard drives, flash drives, or solid-state drives. 
  • Software Error – Glitching software, incompatible versions, failed updates, and confusing user interfaces may cause unexpected data corruption or file loss.
  • Natural Disasters – Catastrophic events like fires, floods, earthquakes, etc., can demolish data storage alongside the building.
  • Malware and Cyberattack – Viruses or malware can corrupt or delete data or lock down your system until you pay a ransom.

Data Loss Examples

Check out these real-world examples to get a more practical understanding of how data loss works, what happens in these cases, and what we can learn from these examples. 


Simply, a data leak involves the unauthorized disclosure of data, while data loss involves the potentially permanent destruction of data. Both pose significant risks to an organization or individual but differ in terms of nature and impact. Many would prefer to suffer a data leak than a data loss, while others would prefer losing unimportant files to having their private data exposed.

Protecting yourself against a data leak is hard because once you hear about a data leak, it is already too late. Safeguarding against data loss is simple: backup, backup, and have backups for your backups! Only through sufficient and timely duplications of data can it be preserved. Remember that online accounts may go down, and even storage mediums inevitably wear out and die.

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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. Heroor B. 7 tips to combat government data breach risks. Security Magazine [Internet]. 2023 Mar 15; Available from:
  2. Piepgrass S, Fishel G, Mirza S. Your organization has suffered a data incident: Now here are the regulators it will likely encounter. Reuters [Internet]. 2023 Oct 16; Available from:
  3. Barton R, Rashbaum K. Securities meet cybersecurity: how companies can face mounting threats. Reuters [Internet]. 2022 May 16; Available from:
  4. What is data loss prevention (DLP)? | Cloudflare [Internet]. Cloudflare. Available from:


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