In the vast expanse of the internet and the dark web marketplace, where information flows like water, have you ever stopped to ponder what your digital life is worth? It’s not about your intrinsic value as a human being, but rather, what price tag does your online identity carry in the obscure tunnels of the dark web?
In an era where a 14-year-old with hacking skills can potentially access and exploit your personal details for identity theft, understanding the workings of this large-scale operation becomes crucial.
The dark web marketplace works anonymously, and it unfortunately holds a reputation for trading in a range of illicit goods and services, including one’s whole identity.
The Dark Web’s Economic Impact: Identity Theft Marketplace
The repercussions of identity theft are pure evil, with individuals and companies grappling with losses amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. But what’s truly intriguing is the price list that defines the worth of different components of one’s online identity.
According to the Dark Web Market Price Index by Top10VPN, a malefactor could procure your entire digital persona for an approximate sum of US$1,170. Surprisingly, credit card information fetches a mere US$50 on the dark web.
This pales in comparison to the premium placed on debit card details, online banking credentials, and logins for PayPal Holdings, each requiring a higher price.
This pricing dynamic could be attributed to the abundance of credit card data, or perhaps the relative ease with which information stealers can siphon funds from bank accounts or make inconspicuous purchases via PayPal.
Passport information, a gateway to a person’s legal identity, is valued at US$62.61 on the dark web, as reported by the Dark Web Index. Other identity documents, essential for proving one’s legitimacy, are priced just below US$30.
When diving deeper into the world of dark web marketplaces, prices exhibit fascinating disparities. For instance, access to account logins for major retailers such as Macy’s, Wayfair, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and eBay spans from a mere US$1.56 to a more substantial US$15.34, illustrating the varying worth attributed to different brands.
According to a report by KnowBe4, the pricing spectrum for social media account logins is intriguing. Instagram accounts go for as low as US$1.28, while Facebook, Inc. accounts command a higher price of US$5.20. In contrast, email accounts are deemed less valuable due to their abundance, ease of revocation, and the greater effort required to convert them into cash compared to pilfered banking or credit data, or information from PayPal and eBay accounts.
Two years ago in a Quora thread, dark web enthusiast Mike Sutherlin asserted, “The rich people are not worth more than the poor, but their personal banking and credit information are, of course, more valuable.”
In the same thread, Sutherlin provided a list of items available on the dark web marketplace along with their price ranges:
- Social Security Number goes up to sale from US$1.00-US$3.00
- FaceBook login goes to US$4.00
- Medical records go from US$50.00 to US$1000.00 (Medical records of those with good credit are valued because they contain most information needed to obtain new lines of credit.)
- Credit Card Information goes from US$0.25 to US$60.00
- PayPal Account starts from US$30.00
- Banking Information goes up to US$1,000.00
- Netflix, Amazon Prime, X-box, Google Play, Pornography site Logins goes from US$1.00 to US$7.00
Due to the changing nature of the internet and its services, these prices are subject to change and vary from geographical location.
The Value of Personal Data: A Deeper Dive Into Dark Web Marketplaces
Emma Woollacott, a Senior Contributor at Forbes, points out that a mere US$1,010 can purchase enough personal data to orchestrate a full-scale identity theft. Within this dark web marketplace, online banking logins stand at an average of US$40, while comprehensive credit card details, including associated data, range from US$14 to US$30.
Interestingly, US credit cards, owing to their high supply, command a lower average value of US$17 compared to their international counterparts. For instance, Israeli cards are valued at a premium of US$65.Once the data is acquired, criminals can procure forged documents to corroborate their stolen identities.
High-quality driving licenses are priced at US$400 apiece, while a European national ID card commands an average of US$500. A US passport, considered a prized possession for nefarious actors, carries a hefty price tag of US$4,500.
Gaining access to this trove of sensitive information necessitates a multitude of techniques. Threat actors employ various methods, including the capture of corporate account logins via stealer malware logs, exploiting vulnerable access control configurations, large-scale port scanning, brute force attacks on exposed web access points, and exploiting vulnerabilities in remote access tools like RDP, VPN, Citrix, and virtualization clients.
Cyble Research Labs’ investigation in Q2 of 2022 uncovered over 150 threads advertising the sale and purchase of initial access on various underground forums. The Dark Web Market Price Index for Hacking Tools reveals how accessible a life of cybercrime has become.
Password hacking tools and counterfeit pages for major entities like Facebook, Walmart, and Amazon are available for a meager US$2 each. Complete cybercrime hacking kits can be acquired for as little as US$125, making it shockingly affordable for new hackers to embark on a criminal career.
Securing Digital Assets in the Age of Data Monetization
In today’s digital era, the commodification of personal data on the dark web underscores the critical need for enhanced cybersecurity measures. Every piece of information, from credit card details to passport information, possesses its own significant financial worth.
As cyber threats continue to proliferate, it becomes increasingly essential for businesses, communities, and individuals to devote additional resources and effort to bolster their security frameworks, ensuring the protection of these valuable data assets. Recognizing the market value of digital identities is not just a matter of interest; it has become a strategic imperative for enterprises to fortify their defenses in response to the ever-evolving threat landscape.