What Is Personal Information? [Personally Identifiable Information]

Home > What Is Personal Information? [Personally Identifiable Information]

What Is Personal Information?

personal-information-definition-sensorstechforumShort definition: Personal information, also known as personal data and personally identifiable information (PII), is any piece of information that can be related to a specific person. Under the GDPR, the term is defined as “any information which is related to an identified or identifiable natural person.”

Extended definition: The term PII has become widely accepted in the United States, whereas the concept of PII is common in information technology. The internet has made it very easy to collect, sell and resell PII, creating a profitable market dedicated specifically to personal data. This has created an opportunity for cybercriminals to carry out identity theft and online stalking. As a response to these emerging threats, many website privacy policies directly address the collection of PII. The conception of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is also a result of these threats in the attempt to limit the distribution and accessibility of personally identifiable information.

PII can be sensitive and non-sensitive.
As listed by Investopedia, sensitive PII includes the following:

  • Full name
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Driver’s license
  • Mailing address
  • Credit card information
  • Passport information
  • Financial information
  • Medical records

Non-sensitive PII includes the following details:

  • Zipcode
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Date and place of birth
  • Religion

In the field of cybersecurity, financial information such as credit card numbers, which is part of sensitive data, is of great interest to cybercriminals. A type of malware, called infostealer (information stealer) is specifically created with the purpose of harvesting financial details from victims. Of course, with the emergence of cryptocurrency, the threat landscape has adapted, and there are campaigns specifically designed to target crypto wallets.

That being said, personal data often is an exchange currency in data leaks and data breaches, with underground forums selling and reselling PII stolen in such attacks.

For more definitions, check out our Cyber Dictioninary.

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