Here’s How Much Hackers Will Pay For Your Passwords

In the modern era, our personal information is more or less our identity. But our identities are under constant threat of being stolen by hackers online. Nearly 16 million people suffered from identity theft in 2016. That’s higher than the 13 million victims the year earlier. If you think people are just stealing your credit card numbers or your social security, you would be wrong. They also want your login information to your favorite sites because they can make big money on the wholesale of your identity.

Your accounts are for sale

Hacker

You’re never not at risk. | supershabashnyi/iStock/Getty Images

Brian Krebs, a journalist and security expert, recently sat down with NPR to discuss a niche market he was able to uncover on the cark web. The market is called Carders Paradise. On this site, there is a list of different websites, all in alphabetical order with a price tag and quantity next to it. They are selling the account information of individuals on those sites. Those sites include well-known names like Amazon.com, Barneys.com, Nordstrom.com, Samsung.com, and so on.

Next: Here’s the devious reason they want these accounts information.

The thieves can do anything with your information

hacker

Hackers don’t need your physical cards to do damage anymore. | DeanDrobot/iStock/Getty Images

The thing is, it’s not just the retailers and banks that they want to get after. They also want some of your accounts where you accumulate points. The frauds can use those points, or miles, or perks on themselves. All they have to do is change a little bit of information to have the items they desire sent to themselves. By the time you have figured anything out, they have made off with the loot. Or they can use your eBay account to sell a bunch of fake items and ruin your reputation.

Next: These sites operate completely anonymously. 

The black market thrives on the dark web

Hacker

If you know an in, you can get anything on the dark web. | Fotokita/iStock/Getty Images

These enterprises know they are illegal and it can be extremely hard to access these types of websites if you are not very familiar with navigating the dark web. Krebs, for example, had to have a friend of a friend invite him to use Carders Paradise. From there he was able to simply cut and paste the entire list for us to see.

But it’s not just Carders Paradise. There are thousands of sites on the dark web where you can find anything you want. From drugs and identities to guns and people. It is truly the lawless frontier we can barely keep up with.

Next: Here’s how cheap it is to create a living nightmare for you.

Your identity is really cheap for hackers

Social security identity thief

Your invaluable secrets are actually pretty cheap on the black market. | blyjak/iStock/Getty Images

The value of these account value ranges pretty narrowly. They can go anywhere from $10 to $25 most of the time. There are some outliers like frys.com for example that can cost $190. The price is predicated primarily on a couple of factors: The sites liquidity ratio (how fast the items can be turned into cash), and supply and demand.

It’s actually just like regular commerce, only completely unregulated. A little like how Facebook sells your identity to businesses, these sites sell your identity to criminals. Wait … how’s that different?

Next: Your life can be ruined and you can lose complete control in some cases of identity theft.

A thief completely took over this woman’s identity

Stealing a purse

This story could shock you. | BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images

If someone does get a hold of this information, it can literally ruin your life. One woman had such a bad case of identity theft, that the person whole stole her identity literally took over her life. Amy Krebs told Forbes “I couldn’t get to two of my reports because she had infiltrated my credit history to the point that her information overrode mine.” In case you are wondering, there is no known relation to Brian Krebs who we spoke of earlier.

Next: Once Pandora’s box is open, it’s really hard to close.

This isn’t an easy fix

Desperate employee

There’s no easy way to undo identity theft. | iStock.com/SIphotography

Once your identity is stolen, things become much more complicated. You have to immediately lock down the account that was affected. After that, you have to start a fraud monitoring service, change all of your passwords, file a police report, file a report with the FTC, and so on. There’s just a mountain of things you have to do to protect yourself after you’ve been compromised. Sometimes you have to monitor your credit and accounts for years after the incident.

Next: Don’t expect the government to be able to do anything and here’s why.

The roots of the dark web are impossible to exterminate

The dark web can’t just be shut down.| iStock/Getty Images

There isn’t much that the government or any agency can do to prevent these markets from existing. A lot of the technology that is used to create these shadow sites on the dark web is primarily used for individuals to browse the internet anonymously. People in suppressed states like Iran or China depend on these types of technology to browse freely.

Even if there is a movement made towards shutting some of these black market sites down, more just pop up and the technology gets even more elaborate. There are sites that are completely hidden unless you are invited to join it. We touched on that earlier with Carders Paradise.

Next: If you can do this one thing, your accounts will be safer.

Change your passwords often

a hand typing in a password on the facebook app

Try to stay one step ahead of hackers. | Saed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Protecting yourself from identity thieves can be pretty easy. Krebs recommends never using the same password for any of your sites. You should also change them regularly. People can have as many as 30 different online identities, according to Krebs, that are ripe for the picking. It’s just smarter to try and keep those passwords different across all of those identities.

Follow The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!