Stolen personal and financial information which is used, for example, to fraudulently gain access to bank accounts and credit cards, or to establish new lines of credit, has a monetary value. Criminals are trading credit card data for up to $30 per card, bank account information for between $10 – $125 and even your email account data is worth up to $12 in this sophisticated and self–sufficient economy. Criminals are not only interested in details of credit cards and compromised bank accounts, but also our addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, full names and dates of birth.
All of this stolen data is retailed in the criminal underworld, which is driving a range of new illegal activities, including crimeware distribution and the hacking of corporate databases. This is backed up by a fully–fledged infrastructure of malicious code writers and hackers, specialist web hosts and leased networks of thousands of compromised computers which carry out automated attacks online, to access and steal personal data. As this underground economy has grown in sophistication, ‘service providers’ have also emerged who offer payment card verification number generators.