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Attacks/Breaches

10/15/2019
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More Breaches, Less Certainty Cause Dark Web Prices to Plateau

New research finds it's now less than $10 for full credit details on a consumer, $100 for a distributed denial-of-service attack, and $50 for access to a US bank account.

The price of stolen financial information and hacker tools on the Dark Web have mostly stagnated over the past two years as the usefulness of stolen data becomes less certain amid a rise in data breaches.

In its annual survey of prices for certain services on the Dark Web, Flashpoint found that digital profiles and financial information, so called "fullz," sold for between $4 and $10, slightly higher than in 2017, while the rental of exploit kits varied between $80 to $100 per day, about the same as 2017. Overall, prices have generally leveled off over the past two years, the company found.

"Even though things were stagnant in terms of pricing, it does tell us some things about where cybercrime is going," says Ian Gray, director of Americas research and analysis for Flashpoint. "More credentials are out in the market, since breaches have gone up. If there is more quantity out there — and granted they are being reused — here is downward pressure on the prices." 

Fraud has taken off, much of it powered by tools and information for sale on the Dark Web. In the first half of 2019, more than 3,800 data breaches and on average, 20 per day, were reported, resulting in the potential exposure of more than 4.1 billion records. 

The total number of incidents of online fraud also increased about 17%, according to the 2018 Internet Crime Report released by the FBI every year. More than 350,000 incidents were reported to Internet Criminal Complaint Center, 17% more than the previous year, with losses exceeding $2.7 billion, according to the annual report. Many of the fraud schemes, such as business e-mail compromise and remand fraud, are much more effective when personal information is used.

While the public Dark Web is not often used by the most sophisticated attacks, it can be a good proxy for the techniques on which cybercriminals are focusing, the Flashpoint report states.

"[M]onitoring product and price listings should provide a temperature check for the cybercrime climate because the number of listings are catered to the entry-level threat actor," the report states. "Understanding price listings and future changes should inform how the cybercrime landscape is developing, and how businesses should respond to this threat."

Flashpoint stressed that their data should not be considered an average or statistically rigorous, as the company noted that it looked for representative samples form popular marketplaces, and that many of the marketplaces have since been shut down.

In addition, the more sophisticated attackers do not typically use the public Dark Web, Gray says. "The cybercriminals who are more sophisticated are moving out of these public markets for cybercrime toward more secure, encrypted chat communication channels and decentralized market places," he says.

Here are some pricing trends Flashpoint found: 

Fullz: Stable at $4 to $10

Data on US citizens is extremely cheap, with a single record costing anywhere from $4 to $10. Even profiles on US citizens that include a Social Security number and date of birth — all that's really needed for new account fraud — cost just $5.

DDoS-for-hire services: Increased up to $100

In 2017, the more expensive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks cost no more than $27. Now, an attack can cost up to $100, Flashpoint found. These types of simple DDoS attacks are used by Internet malcontents to cheat at video games or harass other people. When attacking websites, criminals often charge more for the greater bandwidth and additional application-layer attacks required. 

Bank account access: Stable, between $25 to $75

While credentials to access bank accounts are typically priced depending on the amount of money in the account, the price appears to be mostly stable. Like other types of information, credentials cost more if they are talking European — not US — banks.

 

Not every survey of Dark Web pricing shows stagnant rates, however. One data point not found in the Flashpoint survey — the cost of credit card data— has seen some significant increases since 2015, jumping a third to 83%, depending on the country from which the data comes, according to a recent report from Armor.

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Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio

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