Personal identity

The value of identity: Name your price

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Dell’s SecureWorks Underground Hacker Markets Annual Report 2016 reveals some fascinating insights, including the going price for cybercrime goods and services purchased on the Dark Web. One of the most worrying aspects of the report is the huge fall in prices since 2014.

A BBC article published on 4 May 2016[1] highlights just how low prices can go. Reporting on a story about email account hacking, the news outlet quoted Hold Security as saying that 272 million unique pairs of email addresses and unencrypted passwords were being sold for just 50 roubles (75 US cents or 52 pence).

Low prices are most likely due to the increasing number of companies falling victim to data breaches and hacks.

Huge amounts of data are now available to cybercriminals and we have reached a point where we must assume that, at some point, our identities will be compromised.

Are you worth more than you think?

Part of the issue lies with the individual. Many of us hugely underestimate the value of our personal data. The result is that we don’t take sufficient precautions to safeguard it. Our latest research, carried out to assess the gap between the perception and the actual value of identity, shows that almost a quarter (23%) of UK consumers value their personal identity at £500 or less. Looking at different age groups, the younger generation places a far lower value on it than do the over 65s.

Underestimating the value of data may be the result of two popular misconceptions about what cybercriminals are really looking for:

  • The first is that they are only after our financial data, such as bank account details. In fact, our personal data is worth more to the cybercriminal as it gives them a fuller picture of who we really are as individuals. Financial data is just one part of it. The broader a picture the cybercriminals can build up, the more valuable you become to them – and any future buyers they may have lined up.
  • The second is that historical data is somehow less important or should be less of a concern when it is stolen. As it happens, historical data is extremely valuable as it completes an overall picture of your identity. And that’s what makes it easier for cybercriminals to sell on your data as a complete package of identity, including data you may have long since stopped using.

To cybercrooks, you could be worth millions

Your personal identity data may not seem that valuable to you. But to cybercriminals, your basic details are often all that are needed to take out loans, mortgages, credit cards, or even to drain your bank account. Don’t dismiss your personal information as being of low value, and replaceable. To a cybercriminal, it may turn out to be something much more valuable – if not priceless.

According to our experts, just looking at one particular area on the Dark Web on any given day, there are:

  • 129 sites in operation
  • 66 sites selling identifiable data
  • 57 sites selling UK personal and credit card data
  • 84,764 UK credit cards identified
  • 52,474 cards with sufficient data to identify victims
  • 600 million identities harvested so far
  • 300,000 global identities added every day



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