How much is your data really worth to criminals?
Written by Robert Bester, Consumer Finance Expert Robert has been a writer for six years, specialising in consumer finance and the UK lending market. Concentrating on consumer credit products, Robert writes informative articles that help customers manage their personal finances efficiently.
1st March 2021
3 minute read
Annual fraud against individuals in the UK is estimated by Experian to be worth £6.8bn and, as we increasingly move our most valuable information online, savvy fraudsters are following suit. Your data, which can include everything from banking details to social media logins, is worth less than you might think to hackers and scammers.
We have conducted research on several Dark Web marketplaces to find the average cost of this data. Read on to find out how access to a range of popular online accounts and personal finance credentials are priced up by criminals.
YOUR ENTIRE ONLINE IDENTITY IS AVAILABLE FOR LESS THAN £750
During our research into the value of logins for 26 of the most commonly used accounts available on the Dark Web, we found that you could purchase the majority of someone’s online life for a grand total of… £744.30. Learn more in our comprehensive breakdown below.
Terrifying as it might sound, a scammer could buy your credit card and debit card details, all your online banking logins, passwords as well as your PayPal account information for £619.40. While these might be the most expensive details for sale, a wide-ranging selection of financial data is still available for much less than the average amount of interest paid annually by each UK citizen on their individual debt such as personal loans and mortgages. A figure many of us don’t even think about.
ONLINE SHOPPING DETAILS
These details could be used by someone to make a purchase on your accounts, although, as this is relatively easy to trace unless they use a mail drop as an extra layer of security against being caught. It’s more likely that they would use the information as a stepping stone to finding out more about the owner of the account to acquire more lucrative information.
TRAVEL ACCOUNT INFORMATION
Accounts like Expedia and British Airways use points which can be used to redeem air miles and travel bonuses which could be transferred to the criminal’s account. As with online shopping, these accounts act as a start-point to find out more about the owner for nefarious purposes including identity theft.
VIDEO, MUSIC STREAMING & GAMING ACCOUNTS
Understandably, the most expensive of these examples is an Apple ID which contains a whole host of information valuable to fraudsters. As for the rest, it enables access to free entertainment as well as password clues to other accounts associated with these accounts.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNT INFORMATION
There are few better ways to gain insight into someone’s life than their social media accounts. These details are frequently stolen to sell to companies with little scruples about targeted advertising. It’s also a fast track to identity theft as they can take control of your accounts, lock you out and cause serious reputational damage in a short space of time.
EMAIL & MOBILE ACCOUNT DATA
Being able to access emails and communications data provides fraudsters with a huge amount of information about their target. This is especially true of business accounts where confidential information could be being shared. It also offers a jump off point for a spear-phishing – where a malicious actor tries to gain the credentials to more valuable accounts via social engineering and malware.
THE VALUE OF YOUR ENTIRE DATA PROFILE
Now that we’ve investigated the separate aspects of an online persona, let’s take a look at how the total amount fits in with the current fraud landscape of the UK.
To compile this study, we delved into the most popular Dark Web marketplace ‘Dream Market’ and compared it with two other thriving marketplaces: ‘Wall St Market’ and ‘Berlusconi Market’ to find an average price for each piece of personal information.
What is immediately clear is that your data is not worth a great deal on the open marketplace – at least, not as much as you would think. This is a disturbing thought when viewed on a case by case basis as the impact on individuals can be devastating.
With data protection receiving a radical overhaul thanks to GDPR, the risks associated with personal information online are once again in the forefront of public discussion.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is intended to bring all EU member states under a single data protection law. It will enforce guidelines and regulations on how your data is processed, used, stored or exchanged.
This is welcome news in a time when stories of massive data breaches, identity theft and other nefarious online activities have become a daily reality.
Hopefully, legislation such as GDPR will make it harder for scammers to access data for personal gain (however small it may be) but until then, it’s best practice to ensure that you keep tabs on where you’re putting information online and how it is protected.
For more details on how to keep your online information safe and sound, Get Safe Online features free advice on all of the issues covered in this article.
For more information about the wider world of finance and advice on how to manage your money, visit Money Guru’s Wisdom section.