A data breach occurs when a hacker gains access to the data base of a service or company which contains users’ private information. This information can range from user names and pass words to social security numbers, addresses and even payment details. These lists are then usually sold online to criminal groups who seek to use this information for profit.
The most serious consequences to you can be when very sensitive information like user names, pass words or social security numbers are leaked. Be sure to never use the same pass word for multiple services — if one service you use is breached, you should consider all the accounts using the same pass word as compromised.
Identity theft, specifically online identity theft, involves someone posing as you using your private information, usually for profit. Criminals usually obtain this data either by physical theft, accessing public information, or through data breaches.
The best way to protect your identity online is to secure your private information by using strong passwords and being careful what you share across different services.
When passwords are “hacked”, it usually means the service you use the password in becomes the victim of a data breach, leaving your password and possibly other personal information exposed. In many cases, users can go for years before knowing that their password has been made public.