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What Happens When Hackers Sell Your Data On The Dark Web And How To Prevent It

Anyone On The Internet Can Be A Hacker's Next Big Payday - Including You

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How safe do you think your identity is on the internet?

Before you provide a definitive answer to the question, let's lay down some cyber-threat facts. In a 2016 study on online data breaches, researchers reported that 16.7 million Americans fell victim to identity fraud - one person fell victim to identity theft every two seconds, while one in five data breach victims experienced identity fraud. This resulted in stolen savings, victims being wrongfully charged for a crime, or becoming liable to fake insurance claims.

The main goal of cybercriminals isn't to make your life miserable (although it still falls high on the list) - it's to make money through illegal means. But what exactly do they do with your information once they get a hold of it? The simple answer is that it's sold to other cybercriminals for their own devious purposes. Below are the common forms of personal data sold on the dark web and how they're used for profit.

Kinds Of Personal Data Sold On The Dark Web

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Selfies With IDs

Some websites and organizations require a Know-Your-Customer (KYC) program to verify clients' identification for different reasons. This is done by taking a selfie alongside an ID or document to confirm your identity. In cryptocurrency, this is widely used to prevent money laundering. In social media, this is sometimes used to help you regain access to your account.

The problem with a KYC protocol is that cybercriminals can use it for various purposes, from obtaining microloans to applying for insurance. Fraudsters can actually bypass KYC guidelines and conduct their malicious activities, including blackmailing you with the identity document they have on hand.

Driver's License And Other ID Copies

Your ID cards or documents are your gateway to many services, often linked to sensitive personal data like your social security number (SSN) in the United States. However, how far a cybercriminal can go using your ID depends on how connected it is to your personal accounts and other information, which is why the price for scans of your ID documents doesn't start very high.

The cost of an ID scan or digital copy of your license will depend on how much information is attached to it. With your driver's license, you can register for different services, like car rentals and insurance, and these connections can also be used to commit fraud. If it has your name, date of birth, SSN, mobile number, and address, your data's price is set higher. Since most hackers often steal information in bulk, these stolen documents are also sold in bulk for a lower price.

Passport Copies

You probably don't think about it much, but you send scans of your passport across the web more often than you think. Your passport is the most popular form of identification used to gain government-related aid or service, next to your driver's license.

When you send a copy of your passport, this can be intercepted during delivery and sold to the highest bidder on the dark web. These are also more expensive than any other identification, and the price will vary on how complete a passport scan is. If it's the full copy of a passport and not just the bio page, it goes for much higher.

Credit Cards And Online Banking Details

Your banking details are among the first types of data that cybercriminals go after - this includes your bank accounts, logins, but more commonly, your credit card number. How many times have you aimlessly keyed in your credit card information in online forms to place an online order? How many times were you aware that the online form was on a secure page and on a legitimate one, too?

Once hackers get your full credit card information - number, name, expiration date, and CVV code - they can easily withdraw funds or purchase items online, at least until your bank notifies you of suspicious charges in your account. While anti-fraud systems are updated continuously in financial institutions, cybercriminals also adapt to the changing barriers and infiltrate them in novel ways.

Medical Records

You're probably wondering, "What would hackers use my medical records for?" Some of your data attached to these records can also be found in other attainable documents - but it turns out that's only part of what they're looking for. What cybercriminals are really after are your medical history, ailments, and underlying diseases.

Medical records have been in demand on the dark web because it can help cyber criminals file false health insurance claims or gain access to prescription drugs. Your health records typically have your insurance number attached to them, so it's only a matter of performing social engineering on insurance agents to file a fraudulent claim and reap the rewards.

Online Subscriptions And Password Databases

If you were to count how many streaming, shopping, and recreational sites you're subscribed to, you might lose count. Subscription-based entertainment is an increasingly popular means to access content, movies, series, books, podcasts, classes, and other media online. Losing access to one of these accounts can be annoying, but it can be even more troublesome when your login credentials are sold on the dark web to gain access to exclusive content for a lower price.

On the other hand, password databases are among the most common data leaks, ranging from retail rewards cards to bank logins. Although most of these databases are virtually outdated, these can still serve as a basis for those with compromised accounts who insist on using the same passwords for several login credentials.

Email And Social Media Accounts

One of the trickier services offered on the dark web is to gain access to someone's email or social media accounts. According to Dell's latest report on the matter, hackers charge a hefty amount (at least $129) for each account, but the methods typically used to obtain access are pretty basic. Password-guessing, cross-referencing the account information in leaked databases, and even conducting social engineering tactics are the common methods of securing login access - not a complex algorithm media has led us to believe.

It turns out that accessing your emails and social media pages is not as easy as previously thought, considering how social media and email services have increased their security protocols - with some even offering two-factor authentication before logging in successfully.

Protect Your Data Online

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Just because you haven't experienced identity fraud doesn't mean you have to wait for it to happen to you. It's crucial to have a cybersecurity program in place to protect the information you share online and prevent hackers from stealing your identity.

With Identity Guard from Aura, you can protect your personal data closely while watching out for the digital footprints you leave behind on the internet. Data breaches and security leaks remain a constant threat to your private information. Simply put, it allows Identity Guard to monitor millions of users' data that might surface in a dark corner of the web and send out alerts before further damage can be done.

Identity Guard notifies you of security leaks or breaches regarding your online identity via email and mobile app notifications. It also has different features for each plan available, including dark web monitoring, credit monitoring, predictive risks assessment, and online protection. Should you be alerted of a possible security threat, Identity Guard can help you resolve the issue with a personal case manager as well as reimburse your stolen funds.

You don't have to deal with identity theft on your own. Batten down the online hatches with Identity Guard from Aura to keep your identity safe and intact in every activity you engage in. Choose an Identity Guard plan today by visiting their website here.

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