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Personally Identifiable Information: How Can We Protect It?

Personally Identifiable Information: How Can We Protect It?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Researcher
 Published on August 1st, 2023
This post was updated on November 25th, 2023

Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, refers to any data that can be used independently or with other information to identify, contact, or locate an individual. This could include names, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, or financial account numbers, amongst others. It’s vital to protect such information to prevent identity theft or other forms of fraudulent activity.

Personally Identifiable Information Examples

1. Vehicle Registration Number

A vehicle registration number is a unique identifier assigned to every vehicle. It’s often stamped on a vehicle’s license plate and can serve as a direct link to the owner of the vehicle. This makes it a type of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

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The vehicle registration number can be used by authorities or insurance companies to locate and identify the vehicle’s owner. Consequently, if this information falls into the wrong hands, it has potential misuse and could aid in identity theft or fraud. Hence, vehicle registration numbers should be protected and private just like other forms of PII.

2. Full Name

A person’s full name is one of the most common examples of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). It’s a fundamental part of one’s identity and is used in all areas of daily life, including work, school, and official documentation.

Our names are typically used in conjunction with other forms of PII to verify our identities, such as on driver’s licenses or passports. Because of this, names must always be protected to prevent them from being used inappropriately in situations like identity theft or fraud. This emphasizes why it’s essential to only share your name and other forms of PII in secure environments.

3. Email Address

An email address is a unique identifier that is used for communication in our digital world. It acts as a method of contacting and identifying an individual, making it a form of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Moreover, email addresses are often linked to various online accounts, from social media to banking services. This means that if an email address is compromised, it can lead to a potential security breach affecting all linked accounts. Therefore, like other forms of PII, safeguarding your email address is critical to maintaining your online security and privacy.


Understanding what constitutes Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is critical in today’s digital age. Safeguarding such information, like your vehicle registration number, full name, or email address, is essential to prevent potential privacy breaches, identity theft, or fraudulent activity.

Key Takeaways

  • Personally identifiable information is any data that can be used to identify an individual.
  • Examples of PII include vehicle registration numbers, full names, and email addresses.
  • PII is often targeted by cybercriminals for identity theft and fraud, emphasizing the need for protection.
  • Understanding and recognizing PII can help individuals safeguard their personal information and maintain their privacy.
  • Vehicle registration numbers, names, and email addresses are all considered PII because they can be used to identify or contact a specific individual.

Related Questions

1. Why is protecting PII important?

Protecting PII is key to maintaining individual privacy and preventing identity theft and fraud. Breaches of PII can result in significant financial loss and personal distress for the victim.

2. What other types of data is considered PII?

Other types of PII can include credit card information, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and passport numbers.

3. How can we protect our PII?

There are several ways to protect PII including using strong and unique passwords, using secure networks, regularly updating software, and being cautious about sharing personal information especially online.

4. What are the potential consequences of having my PII exposed?

If your PII is exposed, there’s a potential risk of identity theft, financial loss, harm to reputation and, in severe cases, potential legal consequences.

5. What is a data breach?

A data breach is an incident where unauthorized individuals gain access to confidential information, primarily PII, often with the intent of theft or fraud.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional
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