What PWNED Means and Why It’s Important

You don’t want to get PWNED, right? Though first seen in Warcraft, the internet term has a more specific meaning now. And, it’s not good.

A derivation of the word “owned,” “PWNED” is a term that first found meaning in video game culture. In recent years, being PWNED most likely means some of your online personal data has been compromised. Here’s a closer look at the term and what it means for your online travels.

What is PWNED?

According to Urban Dictionary, PWNED is “a corruption” of the word “owned” and was first in the online game Warcraft. It was the result of a map designer misspelling the word owned. In this case, when the computer beat someone in the came, “so-and-s ‘has been owned.”

In more recent years, you might have heard the term for the website, Have I Been Pwned or “HIBP.” It serves as a terrific resource for online users to check whether data breaches compromised personal data. Additionally, visitors can sign up with their email to get alerts whenever a new breach occurs.

Created in 2013 by web security expert Troy Hunt, HIBP looks at data breaches for trends and patterns.  At no cost, visitors to the site can check whether their email or phone number is part of a current or historical breach. If either was, you’ll see a listing of what type of data was compromised. Besides email and phone numbers, this could include dates of birth,  genders, geographic locations, IP addresses, names, passwords, social media profiles, user website URLs, usernames, and more.

HIBP also lists the breach date, when it was added to the website, and the number of accounts compromised for each data breach.

Other Information

Besides the website, HIBP also has an active Twitter account that the site uses to alert the public to new breaches.

Because of its origin, the abbreviation PWNED isn’t exclusive to the HIBP. It’s a term that’s still used often on social networks, as the following examples show:


You can find information on other internet abbreviations across groovyPost, by clicking here. Keep coming back as new ones get added.

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