A recent study reveals how much your personal data is worth on the Dark Web – no wonder ID theft is a thriving dark economy.

The best place to start is to understand that everyone who has ever connected to the internet, has a smartphone/PC/Mac, loyalty card, travel card, credit card and so much more leaves personal data – a digital trail of breadcrumbs.

And like Hansel and Gretel, that personal data trail can lead directly to you. It is bad enough that FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) et al. know more about you than your mother but this is the tip of the iceberg. Cybercriminals, hackers and even dumpster divers are gathering each breadcrumb and putting together a map of who, what, when, where and why you are. A dark web profile.

Bots crawl the web adding your Facebook details, pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, birthday, friends name, where you eat, what you like, where you work and probable passwords to squirrel it away in your dark web profile.

Other bots then trawl the profiles to alert cybercriminals when they have enough on a person to steal their identity or use a socially engineered spear-phishing attack on you.

VPN OVERVIEW (report here) found that confirmed financial details (account numbers, passwords) ranged from US$49-1200. This is where the money is because cybercriminals can wipe out bank accounts from the privacy of their dark computer!

Personal data

But amazingly a profile ripe for ID theft sells for as little as $12.99 reflecting a huge oversupply of completed profiles.

ID theft means that the cybercriminal can, with a fair bit of ‘manual’ work establish identity documentation, transfer phone numbers (important for banking 2FA), purchase goods in your name using your credit cards, take out loans and generally ruin your life. In many cases, the cybercriminal hires real people (usually drug addicts, homeless or students) in your location to dumpster drive (go through rubbish bins and letterboxes) looking for more breadcrumbs like a bank statement or utility bill – gold.

In fact there are massive ID Theft sweatshops in the Philippines and other lower socioeconomic countries that specialise on assisting cybercriminals to make money.

Do not laugh – it is happening in Australia, and you really need to read our 10 tips to protect yourself from ID theft. And you know why? We have a level of prosperity and personal wealth that makes us the fourth largest desirable target for ID theft.

VPN OVERVIEW says that an Australian passport number is worth $666, a driver’s license number another $100 and a third form of ID (hard copy bill) takes that to $888. Only the US, Norway and Switzerland beat that at $999/944/944 respectively.

GadgetGuy’s take – we will tell you until our last breath that personal data is gold

The Australian Department of Home Affairs says that each year, around 5% of Australians (1.3 million people) experience financial losses because of identity theft. Every 20 seconds an Australian is a victim of identity crime. And 21.5% of us have been a victim at some time in their lives.  

If you add online credit card fraud and other scams the losses skyrocket. ABS says that figure is over 8.5% of Aussies and over 30% of these had two or more incidents.

  • You must not overshare on Facebook or other social media
  • Take steps now you ensure that all passwords are changed (use a password manager)
  • Use a VPN to protect your identity online, especially when using public internet
  • And the internet is not a nice world so have a healthy degree of paranoia