The unfortunate ‘good’ news is that your personal information is worth less recently on what is called the ‘dark web’ because there is currently such a high supply of it. Last year alone, between data breaches like the one at Equifax and hacking from cyber criminals, over 8 billion personal records were released. Another 50 million Facebook users’ data was found to have been misused by research firm Cambridge Analytica just this week. With all of our information floating around in the hands (and hard drives) of criminals you have to wonder what it’s all worth.
A new report from Fractl has found in many cases our priceless personal information is sometimes worth only a few bucks. Certainly individuals with a higher net worth have greater reason for concern because their personal information (especially log-in credentials and passwords) command a higher price in the illicit online marketplace where hackers sell our information. According to their report, one’s entire identity, including PIN numbers and hacked financial accounts sell for about $1,200 on the dark web. If you’ve fallen victim to stolen identity you know that it can cost you five times that in time and money to restore your credit, identity, –and sanity.
Of course your entire identity isn’t always sold in one package. Hackers like to sell it off as fast as they get it, and usually it’s your secret log-in user names and passwords. Average prices for your log-in information can range from $247 for your PayPal account, to just $1 for your gmail password. Oh, and your Facebook password? That will command a firm $5.20. The value here is that many of us use our Facebook log-in credentials to use other websites, opening many doors with one set of keys if you will.
In the end, we all have to use the internet responsibly and take precautions at every turn. Here are some ways to protect yourself both online and in your everyday life.
- Use two-factor authentication when possible
- Utilize biometric log-in: facial recognition or fingerprint
- Opt in for security alerts on accounts that offer them
- Pay using contactless payments instead of swiping your physical credit card (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay)
- Sign up for credit monitoring with creditkarma.com, lifelock.com, or identityguard.com.