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How can cybercriminals profit from your personal information?

With our dependency on all aspects of digital life, it is worth being aware of how some cybercriminals look to profit from our personal information in various ways. In a recent research, ExpressVPN reveals just how much your information can be worth on the dark web, with email logins fetching as much as 65 USD. Here are some of the most common methods cybercriminals employ to retract our information:

Identity theft

By obtaining your personal details such as name, address, social security number, or financial information, cybercriminals can impersonate you. They may open fraudulent bank accounts, apply for credit cards, or conduct other fraudulent activities in your name, potentially causing financial damage.

In the UK, according to a report released by Cifas, in 2022, there were 409,000 cases of fraudulent conduct recorded in the National Fraud Database. This represented an increase of 14% (+48,840) in 2021.

Financial fraud

Cybercriminals can use your banking or credit card information to make unauthorized purchases, transfer funds, or conduct fraudulent transactions. They may also sell this information on the dark web to other criminals.

Phishing scams

Phishing involves tricking individuals into revealing their personal information by impersonating legitimate organizations. Cybercriminals may send fake emails, messages or create deceptive websites to collect login credentials, credit card numbers, or other sensitive data. They can then use this information for their own gain or sell it to others. Furthermore, according to the research, some cybercriminals look to design mockups of scam pages and give information about how to hack financial sites and courses on the dark web. These are sold for an average of 35 USD. Cybercriminals will look to use these scam pages to mimic real websites, such as banking or e-commerce platforms.

Ransomware attacks

Cybercriminals can deploy malicious software that encrypts your files, holding them hostage until you pay a ransom. They may threaten to delete or expose your data if you don’t comply, exploiting the value you place on your personal information.

Sale of personal information

Criminals can sell your personal information on the dark web to other cybercriminals or data brokers. This information may be used for various purposes, such as targeted advertising, identity theft, or creating sophisticated scams.

Credential stuffing

If you reuse passwords across multiple accounts, cybercriminals can obtain your login credentials through data breaches or by using specialized software. They then try these credentials on various platforms, hoping to gain unauthorized access to your accounts. They may exploit this access for financial gain or sell the account credentials to other criminals.

Social engineering

Cybercriminals may manipulate individuals through social engineering techniques to extract personal information. This can involve posing as a trusted entity, such as a bank representative or technical support personnel, and persuading you to disclose sensitive details over the phone or via email.

Staying vigilant

As a rule of thumb, it is vitally important to stay vigilant while surfing the web and to take measures to protect your personal information, such as using strong, unique passwords, regularly monitoring your financial statements, being cautious of unsolicited requests for information, and keeping your devices and software up to date with security patches.