Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Website Tells You If You’ve Been Pwned

computer screenHave you been pwned lately?

There’s a good chance you have, whether you know it or not. It’s also possible you have no idea what it means to be pwned – or why you should even care.

Pwned is a slang variation of “owned” and is pronounced the same way (“poned”). It was originally used by video gamers to express utter defeat or domination. Now the word has gone mainstream, and it means having your personal information exposed or stolen by hackers.

“It’s an apt description of what it’s like to have criminals use your Social Security number, birthdate and other personal details to commit fraud in your name,” says this source.

Billions of people were pwned in massive data breaches at Uber, Yahoo, Equifax and the like. Most of them had no clue their personal and financial information had been compromised until news of the breach went public. In the meantime, their private data may have already been sold on the black market or used by cyber-thieves for nefarious purposes.

At the website, you can find out if it you’ve been pwned and how it happened. You can even sign up to be notified if future pwnage occurs.

To date, the website has identified close to 5 billion personal identity records stolen by hackers. Its founder Troy Hunt has become a leading cyber-sleuth who is so good at his job that he has uncovered breaches before victims even knew they’d been attacked. Hunt was called to Capitol Hill in November to educate lawmakers on data crime.

If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to visit the site and check your pwn status.

Your Personal Vulnerabilities

Hackers love going after retailers, financial institutions and online networks. Law firms are another prime target. Stay safe by keeping a close eye on your accounts and passwords.

Bad guys also salivate over healthcare information. A single page from your medical records can reveal your Social Security Number, birth date, insurance information and home address.

Losing your phone or laptop computer is also a good way to get pwned.

16 Largest Data Breaches This Century (So Far)

  1. Yahoo – 3 billion user accounts (2013-14)
  2. Adult Friend Finder – 412 million accounts (2016)
  3. eBay – 145 million accounts (2014)
  4. Equifax – 143 million accounts (2017)
  5. Heartland Payment Systems – 134 million credit cards (2008)
  6. Target Stores – 110 million credit/debit cards (2013)
  7. TJX Companies – 94 million credit card accounts (2006)
  8. JP Morgan Chase – 76 million households and 7 million small businesses (2014)
  9. US Office of Personnel Management – 22 million current and former federal employee records (2012-14)
  10. Sony Playstation Network – 77 million accounts (2011)
  11. Anthem – 78 million health insurance customers (2015)
  12. RSA Security – 40 million employee records (2011)
  13. Stuxnet – undetermined scope / malware attack (2005-10)
  14. VeriSign – undetermined scope (2010)
  15. Home Depot – 56 million accounts (2014)
  16. Adobe – 38 million user records (2013)



Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. During the course of his 35- year career, he has been a solo practitioner, corporate lawyer, legal editor, Legal Aid staff attorney and insurance risk manager. Today he helps lawyers and firms succeed through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations ( Contact or 919-619-2441 to learn how Jay can help your practice.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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