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What Do Hackers Actually Do With Your Data? | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacking | #aihp

Due to the rapid increase in data breaches over the years, cybersecurity is a growing concern for companies and individuals worldwide. Organizations are the top targets for hackers, because they are one-stop shops for large data dumps.

Hackers gain access to millions of user credentials through data breaches at both big and small businesses, which they can then exploit to their advantage. But how do hackers benefit from your data?


What Hackers Gain From Identity Theft

If your account or device is compromised, the hacker will have access to your personally identifiable information (PII), which includes your full name, birth date, SSN (Social Security Number), phone number, and address.

Your contact lists, credit and debit card information, bank statements, rental applications, and legal documents can all be accessed if your primary email account has been hacked. Basically, all of that is needed for someone to pose as you.

Hackers may use your personal information and identity for the following purposes:

  • Create new accounts or take control of existing ones to perform phishing scams.
  • Use your name and insurance information to purchase prescription drugs or submit false insurance claims.
  • File fraudulent tax returns in order to get a tax refund or other government benefits.
  • Give law enforcement your personal information to obtain a criminal record in your name—and not their own.
  • Get additional identity-related documents, such as credit cards and passports.
  • Make financial requests to your loved ones by contacting them.

Selling Your Data to Other Criminals

Cybercriminals can buy and sell stolen data online, but this cannot be done on the public internet. As a result, they turn to the dark web to sell passports, driver’s licenses, credit cards, and bank account information.

Depending on the availability and grade of the stolen data, different products have different pricing. For example, the price of credit card information might range from $10 to $1,000. However, it can be sold for as little as $1 if there have been many recent data breaches and an oversupply of stolen credit cards on the black market.

According to Privacy Affairs’ Dark Web Price Index 2022, a credit card with an account balance of up to $1,000 costs roughly $80 on the dark web. Legal documents have higher costs; for example, a driver’s license can cost $120, while an international passport can cost up to $3,000.

It may not come as a surprise that cryptocurrency is the primary payment method on the dark web. Since both the buyer and the seller need to maintain their anonymity, cryptocurrency is generally the safest option for the transaction.

Using Your Financial Information

bank cards

Hackers often intend to make money off stolen data, either by using it themselves or by selling it on the black market. Because of the potential for big earnings, the financial industry is the third most targeted by hackers, as covered on the Proxyrack blog.

Credit cards are sold as physical or digital items on the dark web, whereas login credentials are sold separately. Your credit card can be cloned by hackers, who can then use it to take out loans or make online purchases. Some packages contain the owner’s name, routing number, billing address, signature, and all other necessary information in addition to the login details.

All of this information would make it easier for the criminal to visit the financial institution and make a direct cash withdrawal.

Bank information can cost anywhere between $60 to thousands of dollars. The balances in online accounts play an important role in determining the cost of this stolen data. The selling price will be less for accounts with balances of $2,000 or less. However, if a bank account has about $15,000, the selling price will be more than $1,000.

Holding Your Data Ransom

A person’s data includes everything they wouldn’t want other people to have access to, from financial transactions to personal pictures. Organizations store millions of user records, and customers could suffer greatly if the data is compromised.

Cybercriminals break into company computers, steal the data stored there, and demand a large ransom in exchange. In contrast to selling stolen data, ransom demands can help hackers make millions of dollars.

They threaten to publicize the business’s confidential data, which might ruin its reputation. Sometimes, hackers compromise the company’s computer network and lock it until the ransom is paid. This prevents the company from operating and causes it to shut down temporarily, resulting in a number of losses.

Due to the important data they hold, health institutions are frequently targeted by ransomware worldwide, including by some of the deadliest ransomware groups in the world. Healthcare organizations are often willing to pay eight-figure ransom amounts since losing data about medical diagnoses and procedures could risk patients’ lives.

Selling Sensitive Corporate Information

Hackers can sell your company’s secrets to other companies instead of selling data on the dark web. Although it is against the law, corporate espionage is becoming more and more of a problem.

Companies pay large amounts of money to hackers, so they may access the private data of competitors. Trade secrets, client information, prices, sales, policies, marketing plans, and a lot more could be included. All of these can enable the business to outperform the victim business by stealing its ideas and even customers.

According to an IBM analysis, it takes businesses 280 days to detect and contain a data breach, which can cost them $4.35 million on average. As a result, the targeted company could lose both clients and money.

Using Hacked Accounts for Advanced Attacks

Hackers can use your account to target new victims. They might send emails with malicious attachments to your friends, coworkers, or family. A malware will download onto the devices of recipients who open the email, giving the hacker access to some or all of their data. The hacker can then carry on in this manner repeatedly, creating an endless loop.

If your professional account has been compromised, the attacker may pretend to be you and request private information from your coworkers or junior staff members.

How to Be Careful on the Internet and Protect Your Data

Basic cybersecurity strategies like using biometrics, multi-factor authentication, and anonymous browsing should be part of your daily routine. You should run anti-virus software frequently to verify if your device is infected. Also, consider investing in a reputable virtual private network (VPN) if you can.

Take a few minutes each day to secure your data online, even if it’s difficult to find the time with your busy schedule. It’s less stressful than having to deal with a potential data breach.

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