So it turns out you can now buy stolen passwords for the princely sum of just 55 cents.
That is according to a new report by Intel Security group, McAfee Labs who claim to have found login credentials and passwords on a video streaming website.
That’s right, for less than it costs to post a UK letter first class, you can now buy someone’s stolen credentials.
The report, named The Hidden Data Economy, published earlier this month, detailed an extensive investigation undertaken by McAfee Labs into the Dark Side of the internet and also the hidden world of buying and selling stolen personal and corporate digital information online.
One of the main concerns raised by the report is that contrary to popular belief:
‘There is no ‘hidden doorway into an underground marketplace for nefarious products…’
In fact, a previous report by McAfee highlighted just how easy it was to access the underground marketplace for cybercrime, by anyone with a web browser. Since that report was released in 2013, McAfee notes that that access has only gotten easier.
The report also highlights the concept of ‘data breach fatigue;’ the idea that the sheer number of hacks being reported by companies and government agencies is greeted by the public mostly with a shrug. The recent Ashley Madison.com hack being a rare exception because of the ‘sex’ angle.
McAfee Labs discovered that one stolen US credit card number could cost as little as 5-8 dollars. European card numbers retail for between 25-30 dollars. Buyers willing to pay a little more could also add to their basket and purchase an entire digital identity belonging to someone else. This typically includes full addresses, pin numbers, mother’s maiden names, and CVV2 numbers.
More worrying that the apparent ease with which the easily accessible hidden economy is growing, is McAfee’s reasoning that the:
‘Cybercrime industry may seem so far removed from everyday life that it is tempting to ignore the message.’
The report is alarmingly blunt in its conclusions, saying that the evidence found of ‘the hidden data economy…make the threat clear…[that]… purchase and rental of exploits and exploit kits…are fueling an enormous number of infections across the world. Cataloging the available offers is impossible because the field is growing at a tremendous rate.’
The solution, according to McAfee is that everyone needs to be more pro-active in the fight against both malware and other cyber threats. If people do not take sufficient care to look after their own online insecurities, ‘information from our digital lives may appear for resale to anyone with an Internet connection.’