Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said just four pieces of vague information can open the door to crackers and hackers.
The researchers said the dates and locations of just four transactions can identify 90 percent of people in a data set recording three months of credit card transactions by 1.1 million users.
For example, say the MIT scientists, that someone with copies of just three recent receipts, or one receipt, an Instagram photo of you, and a tweet about the phone you just bought will have a 94 percent chance of extracting your credit card records from a million other people.
The implications are serious, because both public and private entities see aggregated digital data as a source of insight.
Big Data, however, holds socially beneficial implications, the researchers said.
They are looking at other ways to protect peoples’ data from being filched.