How much is a stolen identity worth?
For people with high credit scores, a Social Security number, birth date, and full name can sell for $60 to $80 on the digital black market. It may not sound like much, but for hackers, a good credit score can fetch a nice premium. Some stolen identity information can go for as little as $1 per person, or even $0.10 when bought in bulk, according to a new report from security firm Flashpoint.
The findings won't put anyone at ease. Over 145 million US citizens may have had their identity information stolen, thanks to the massive breach at credit reporting agency Equifax. The lifted data included Social Security numbers and birth dates, which hackers can use to commit identity theft, though it has not yet hit the digital black market, said Olivia Rowley, a Flashpoint intelligence analyst.
Nevertheless, there's still plenty of other identity information up for sale; millions of individual victims based on chatter on the forums, according to Rowley.
Flashpoint surveyed the prices in English-language dark web markets, accessible through Tor, a browser designed for anonymous web surfing. Basic stolen identity information on a US citizen, which only includes the Social Security number, full name and birth date, can range from $1 to $8 per person. But in some cases, hackers will package the offering with the victim's stolen credit card information, and charge from $20 to $75.
Rowley said black market dealers have also offered credit scores, driver's license numbers, and a tax returns. "You can really do a lot of damage on someone," she said, like opening credit cards, getting a major loan in the victim's name, and spending the money without having to pay it back.
Where the black market dealers are sourcing this stolen data isn't always clear, but it usually comes from computer hacking, Rowley said. Cybercriminals like to target hospitals or schools because they collect lots of identity information.
There is some good news. After US and European authorities shut down two of the leading dark web markets, AlphaBay and Hansa Market, in July, it's been harder for black market buyers and sellers to make deals, Rowley pointed out. Some dealers are also worried that authorities have compromised another network, Dream Market. The instability hasn't affected pricing, Rowley said, but it has made the cybercriminals hesitant to engage.