The Dark Web: How much is your bank account worth?

Researchers explore just how much our bank accounts, identities, and more are worth to customers in the web's underbelly.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

For many, their bank accounts are at the heart of their financial responsibilities.

Identity theft, card cloners, and phishing campaigns are becoming increasingly common as ways threat actors attempt to crack into your financial reserves, whether it be through impersonating you to your bank, cloning a debit card at an ATM, or luring you to input your PayPal details into a fraudulent website.

They may mean the world to us and cause devestation when fraud takes place, but for traders in the Dark Web, your ID and financial accounts are just assets to sell.

However, they may not be worth as much as you may think.

On Tuesday, the Armor Threat Resistance Unit (TRU) released a report documenting an investigation which took place over several months into the current pricing trends in the Dark Web.

According to the researchers, the Dark Web is "awash" with stolen information. Major brands including MasterCard, Visa, and American Express are common, and stolen data belonging to individuals surfaces from a variety of countries.

"There are likely only a handful of major credit card data farmers doing the majority of the data theft," Armor says. "It appears these wholesalers are, directly or via a middleman, distributing the data and guidance on the most effective ways to sell it to retailers or salespeople that post advertisements to the underground markets and forums."

"Doing business in this manner creates a separation between the theft and sale of the data that reduces the risk for the thieves and the sellers," the team added. "This business model not only has the smell of a pyramid scheme, it reminds us that this is nothing new, that organized crime has simply moved into the digital age."

While there is some variance in price between vendors, US stolen credit card data is consistently less expensive than data stolen from other countries.

Credit card data is generally sold as two packages -- one which provides only numbers, and the other -- known as "fullz" -- includes information to help verify that criminals are the card owners if they are challenged.

For example, one seller offering US credit card numbers sold each one for between $10 - $12. However, another trader which sold "fullz" packages raised the price to $18.

The credit limit on cards also impacts the cost in the underground. Those with an advertised $5,000 limit are being sold for $450, while a card with a $10,000 limit was spotted on sale for $800. Another with a limit of $15,000 was being touted for $1,000.

While card numbers are big business, access to accounts is also hot property.

According to the researchers, accounts with a balance of roughly $3,000 from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are being hawked for $300, while bank login information for accounts belonging to the same banks with balances of up to $15,000 is being sold for between $200 and $1,000.

Armor says:

"US banks may have more global access points to support international travel, increasing the potential points of attack.

In addition, their customers may have higher or more stable balances in their accounts on average than others, making them more attractive targets and contributing to their larger presence on the black market."

While stolen US dominates the market, UK citizens are far from safe. The details required to access Lloyds Bank accounts with balances of roughly £5000, for example, are on sale for up to £400 each.

PayPal, too, is a target for traders, and their sale prices also depend on their balances.

The researchers found that one seller was offering a verified PayPal account with a balance of $3,000 for $200.

Once these funds have been accessed -- most often through the use of money mules -- cash can be laundered, spent, or converted.

If customers want to purchase documents for themselves, the Dark Web provides. Counterfeit documents, stolen IDs, and full identity papers are able to be purchased.

US green cards, driving licenses, country visas, and insurance documents are all available for approximately $2000.

Another seller was offering what they called "full profiles" of stolen identities. For the bargain price of $40, the seller would allegedly provide social security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, and less sensitive information such as education and telephone numbers. The same trader also offered to provide background checks.

"All of this sensitive and personal data is potentially damaging on its own, but it can quickly escalate to devastating when combined with fake receipts, IDs, and government documents," the team notes.

More than accounts with obvious financial worth are at stake. In the world of social media and oversharing, information which can be used in online identity theft, malware distribution, and phishing campaigns can be pillaged from our social media.

See also: Software code signing certificates worth more than guns on the Dark Web

In the web's underbelly, social media accounts are a hot commodity and while far cheaper, still sell.

The firm's team has recorded the bulk details of 1,000 Instagram on sale for $15, or 10,000 for $60, and a seller of particular note is touting an individual hacking service for Facebook, Netflix, and Twitter, among other services, for $12.99.

"Whether you are a small business owner, an enterprise executive or a private individual using a computer from the comfort of your home, there are attackers who are interested in your data," Armor says. "As long as these markets continue to thrive, cyberattacks will remain a constant threat, making it vital business leaders arm their security teams with the resources they need to keep information secure."

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