The deep web is a vast realm of miscellaneous information and dead websites that comprises the majority of the internet. It’s also host to the infamous dark web, an anonymous space in which criminal activities like drug dealing, arms trading, and bidding on your sensitive and private information occur daily.
2019 has already been a big year for dark web hackers. So far this year, we’ve seen a potential record loss of 25 million including individual, medical and corporate records subjected to the increasing reach of data breaches. This is compared to 2018, which saw 15 million compromised records in 503 breaches.
Your True Worth On The Dark Web...
The affordability of your information is unsettling. Experian conducted an investigative report on the availability of private information on the dark web and found some disturbing results. If your information ends up on the dark web, someone can purchase your SSN for as little as $1, your driver’s license for $20, and only need to spend $30 for “fullz info,” a complete breakdown of your personal information from birthdate to account numbers. More difficult data to acquire or replicate, such as diplomas and passports, can cost anywhere from $100 to $400 and $1,000 to $2,000, respectively. It takes little to no effort for someone to acquire enough of your private information to access bank records, health records and much more.
Exposed on the Dark Web
Dan Patterson, a blogger for CNET, underwent his own dark web investigation with a colleague and discovered trouble as well. His colleague’s information was part of a “fullz” dump: everything from their SSN to their address, along with the info of thousands of others, was available for the low, low price of $69. Patterson’s exposure was worse; his name, email and other information associated with his current phone number was readily available to anyone who wanted to use it. Keep in mind, neither Patterson nor his colleague had any inkling that their information was on the dark web until they went looking for it.
Some are luckier than Patterson and receive an update from their financial institutions when their information is detected on the dark web. Angela Colley, a blogger for the website Make Change, received a warning from her bank about a data breach and assumed it was all a scam. Upon further investigation, she found not only was her bank serious about the compromised nature of her personal information, but she also found that her information was present on nine different dark web searches.
The Opposite of a Friendly Invitation
Evite, the popular social planning service, was, like many companies in 2019, the victim of a massive data breach. A particularly prolific hacker, who goes by the name of Gnosticplayers, stole more than 10 million Evite users’ records, ranging from IP addresses to passwords. Gnosticplayers is estimated to have stolen over 840 million records in their notorious career and sells millions of records at a time for thousands of dollars.
These are catastrophic numbers for companies. To provide perspective on the numbers at work, Gnosticplayers asked for $1,900 in Bitcoin for the 10 million Evite records, but the average cost for a company to remediate a data breach is anywhere between $1.25 million and $8.19 million, at an average rate of $150 per record. In 2017, Equifax experienced the largest data breach in US history, one that put upward of 145 million people at risk, and paid a settlement of $425 million to the Federal Trade Commission.
Money, Drugs, & a Life-Sentence
The dark web is becoming a significant influence in the greater marketplace. The revenue that Gnosticplayers generates pales in comparison to the amount made by someone selling narcotics on the dark web. In 2013, Ross Ulbricht, creator of the drug marketplace known as the Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking and possession of $3.6 million in illegally-acquired Bitcoin. While in operation, the Silk Road generated $1.2 billion in narcotics sales, selling everything from marijuana to synthetic opioids. With money moving in these quantities, it’s impossible to ignore the growing prevalence of the dark web. The problem is too big to ignore.
These horror stories aren’t something out of CSI: Miami. They are real events that take place right now under our noses. The dark web is truly the wild, wild west of the digital era.