The Digital Black Market for Identity Data

Blog / The Digital Black Market for Identity Data

Trade-in personal information is a huge business, and unless you take measures, your data may be in danger. When your data is hacked, it may be tough to recover entirely. Understanding how the illicit market for personal information operates can help you better prevent yourself from being a victim.

How Does the Illicit Market for Personal Data Operate?

The dark web is concealed from most users and lacks standard security and supervision, allowing for the purchase and sale of sensitive information. Because users may remain anonymous and conceal their transactions, it is very difficult to halt their fraudulent acts or reverse the harm done to customers.

So, how does your data go from safe websites to your devices and then to the dark web? It is usually obtained via malware, phishing, or confidence scams from emails, social media sites, and digital accounts. Through large-scale hacks, cybercriminals may even get access to business databases. More than four billion data were hijacked via data breaches in 2019 alone, a 54 percent raise over the previous year. Whatever technique they choose, once criminals gain access to your data, they will either use it or trade it on the dark web.

Value of Personal Information 

Each piece of personal information has a cost. A Social Security number may be purchased for as low as $1. Credit cards, debit cards, and banking information may fetch up to $110. Usernames and passwords for non-financial institution logins cost $1, while login information for online payment systems may vary from $20 to $200.

Other kinds of information may fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars, such as:

  • Diplomas
  • Passports
  • Medical documentation

When data is acquired as a result of a large data breach or a successful phishing effort, you can guarantee that even apparently tiny quantities pile up quickly.

Prices fluctuate, as they do in any marketplace, leaving the criminals waiting for the ideal opportunity to sell your data—it may be years before your stolen data is utilized. As a result, you may not discover a problem until a long time after the first event.

The Digital Black Market's Mechanics

Phase 1:
 Malware development to compromise consumers' internet security.

There is a company behind every virus, worm, bot, and other malware. Heads of criminal networks communicate with programmers to create malware, hackers to breach into networks, or other scammers and fraudsters to create spam and phishing assaults. The victims are often Windows users and online users who have been duped while searching for particular information, banking, or networking.

If you fall victim to one of their internet security hoaxes, your information may be kept on servers that hackers may access. They may use it to get into your accounts and steal your money and identification, or they can sell it on the internet black market.

Phase 2: Involve the promotion of illicit internet goods.

The internet black market, like legitimate commodities markets, is very competitive. To be lucrative, cybercriminals must advertise their "goods" to other criminals. They create promos, demonstrations, service guarantees, and even discounts for big "purchases," all of which are promoted on underground forums and, sometimes, social networks.

Phase 3: The sales procedure

A cybercrook becomes intrigued by the offer of another cybercrook. What is the sales process like? Negotiate with the client/vendor through private chat or email using generic addresses. To distribute the goods, use existing underground internet shops. Determine the mode of payment, which should always be one that everyone utilizes, such as Western Union. If the product isn't functioning, contact customer service; for example, if a credit card number isn't valid, they'll replace it with one that is.

Phase 4: Money laundering

This stage relates to cybercriminals who steal money from customers' bank accounts via bank transfers. As you would expect, this is dirty money that must be cleaned before it can be utilized on legitimate markets. This is when additional victims join the picture: money mules lured in by cyber crooks through bogus employment promises. They are offered large rewards just for collecting stolen funds in their bank accounts and then transferring it to overseas accounts - cybercrooks' accounts. These victims' online security, as well as their physical security, is jeopardized.

The Simple Way Out

The irony of identity theft and financial crimes is that the vast majority of it occurs because businesses leave the back door open for thieves owing to inadequate internal security measures. While data breaches and phishing assaults cannot be fully avoided, businesses can catch identity thieves by using automated identity verification systems.

These solutions, which are driven by AI technology, are used at the first step of client onboarding. When an identity thief tries to log in to a victim's bank account or patient health portal, AI models identify inconsistencies in the information to detect false or counterfeit identities. Furthermore, biometric facial recognition technology may be used to allow remote identity verification through face scans. These methods prevent identity theft during the early phases of account creation and enable businesses to comply with required Know Your Customer requirements. 

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