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From 55 Cents to $1,200: The Value Chain For Stolen Data

The latest pricing models for stolen information in the underground economy.

In the cyber underground, every conceivable bit of stolen information on an individual has value, even if it’s worth just $0.55 apiece.

Intel Security Group’s McAfee Labs recently examined trends in the cybercrime economy and discovered a proliferation of stolen data and sophisticated pricing and packaging models for selling it. Researchers examined pricing models for different types of stolen data including credit and debit card data, bank login credentials, online payment service logins, enterprise network credentials, hospitality account data, and online auction account logins.

In a newly published report called "The Hidden Data Economy," McAfee described the formal value hierarchy that exists for several of the data types.

For instance, basic payment card data that combines the primary account number, card verification code, and an expiration date sells for between $5 and $8 in the US and between $25 and $30 in the EU. But when that same data is combined with other information like the billing addresses associated with the card, PIN, or Social Security Number and date of birth, the value of each card increases significantly:  Stolen payment cards with such so-called Fullzino retail for around $30 per piece in the US and around $45 in the EU.

Bank login credentials also have a distinct value hierarchy. A username and password to a bank account with a $2,200 balance, for instance, is priced at $190, while access to an account with a $6,000 balance costs $500. At the high-end, access credentials to a bank account with a $20,000 balance sells for $1,200.

Access to premium online content services also follows a similar model. Stolen login credentials for premium comic book services can be obtained for as little as $0.55. Prices for access to premium cable streaming services start at $7.50, while professional sports streaming services cost $15.

“Like any unregulated, efficient economy, the cybercrime ecosystem has quickly evolved to deliver many tools and services to anyone aspiring to criminal behavior,” says Raj Samani, chief technology officer for Intel Security EMEA.

“This ‘cybercrime-as-a-service’ marketplace has been a primary driver for the explosion in the size, frequency and severity of cyber attacks,” Samani said in a statement.

The breadth of products now available for sale in the dark market has evolved to include almost every conceivable type of data, Samani told Dark Reading. “This marketplace is burgeoning and sellers are doing everything they can to attract customers.”

The key takeaway here is that data theft matters at a very individual level, Samani says. While people often cast cybercrime as a technology issue, the reality is that it is a much bigger problem.

“It matters because it can be about not being able to get a mortgage because someone has destroyed your credit rating,” he says. “Or about being accused of sending hateful messages via your social media account because someone gained access to your mailbox. The truth is that cyber theft can, and often does, affect peoples’ lives in profound ways.”

Troublingly, McAfee’s review of the dark market shows that it has become very open and accessible to anyone aspiring to a career in cybercrime. Most anyone with a browser has the ability to pull off a cybercrime because of the burgeoning availability of all kinds of nefarious data and tools in the cyber underground market, Samani says.

“No longer is the perpetrator the ultimate beneficiary. Cybercrime [has become] industrialized and made accessible for anybody to join in,” he says.

 

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