How Much is Your ID Worth?
Calculating its black market price
September 14, 2009
You may think your identity is priceless. Not according to Norton’s new “Online Risk Calculator.” Through a short online quiz, it calculates your personal data’s cash value on the black market.
The calculator, unveiled last week by Symantec, invites visitors to “explore digital dangers.” “The more you do online, the more ways bad guys can get you,” it suggests.
Besides considering whether you can access credit, bank, brokerage and health insurance plan accounts online, the risk calculator also takes activity on Facebook and other social networking sites, peer-to-peer-file sharing, and online bill payments into consideration. Other factors are your level of security software and Internet surfing savvy, and whether you keep any personal contact lists online. After guessing the total a cyber-criminal might pay for all of your personal data, you’re given the “surprisingly low” figure your digital life might actually go for on the criminal’s auction block. How does $11.74 sound? Do I hear $12.29?
Buying in bulkOf course, the criminal is unlikely to be selling only your personal identifying information, notes PCWorld’s Tony Bradley. After all, there’s an “economy of scale” going on where crooks sell huge batches of information at one time – such as the information reaped from the Heartland Payment Processing or TJX breaches.
The fact that so many criminals are contributing product to the black market actually makes it more difficult to determine the monetary value of stolen data, according to CNET News, which cites a June 2009 Microsoft report.
All of this further highlights the breadth of the threat to you and your personal information. However, the idea isn’t to scare consumers, but rather to raise awareness, Marian Merritt, Internet safety advocate at Symantec, told CNET: “We still find consumers who think using just antivirus is sufficient.”
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