Just how much is your personal data worth on the dark web?

16 Mar

To many, the “dark web” only really exists in chilling movies. The reality, however, is that the dark web exists in our lives, and it can have a dire impact on you and your loved ones if you’re not careful.

The thing about falling victim to criminals who lurk on the dark web is that it can take you completely by surprise. It’s all far too easy to unwittingly give someone all the information they need to ruin your financial life. Consider what’s involved when starting a new online job or opening a seemingly legit online account.

You may not appreciate the risk of emailing a copy of your ID to a company that requests it, but what if the person requesting the file is just a poser (not a real representative of the company)? The poser then sells the copy of your ID to unscrupulous criminals through the dark web. After all, they can’t exactly advertise your ID in the local newspaper.

how much is your personal data worth?

Criminals on the dark web actively advertise for the personal data of individuals and companies, often paying over ridiculous amounts for specific data records. They have become so flagrant and so commercialised that they even offer loyalty schemes and rewards programs for people who can sell them bulk lists of personal data.

What’s in the data, and how do the criminals score? It’s not just your name, surname, and ID that these criminals can get their hands on. It’s also your credit card and banking details. With your personal data, they can create fake documents, open loan accounts, impersonate you, and even steal your identity.

the dark web is like a freelancing site for criminals

It’s hard not to compare the dark web to freelancing sites.

Cybercriminals simply post an ad for the personal data they want and attach a price to it. A “freelance” criminal will then set out to find these details to hand over to the criminals in exchange for payment.

Stolen PayPal details, for instance, can net a cybercriminal just less than R3 000, while Master Card PINs will get you just over R200. These amounts make you realise why so many criminals are willing to spend a large portion of their time scouting around for criminal opportunities.

vigilance is key

Protecting yourself is all about being vigilant. You should be aware of the risks and ensure that you don’t become complacent with your personal data.

  • If you need to store a copy of your ID, don’t store it on your phone. Rather back it up to the cloud and make sure that it is data encrypted.
  • If a company asks for your proof of address and a copy of your ID online, take the time to research the company to ensure that they aren’t a scam.
  • Never throw your credit card statements with all your particulars on them in the regular trash.

in conclusion

The more aware and alert you are to cybercrime, the safer you can keep your personal details. Take the time to regularly change your passwords, back up your personal data to the cloud (encrypted), and never share your personal particulars with anyone.

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