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Scary: Stolen data circulating the Dark Web quicker than ever

For Hallowe’en, we thought we’d share a scary, true story. A recently released study from cloud security vendor Bitglass revealed that the dark web is becoming busier and more dangerous than ever.

In recreating an experiment first conducted in 2015, Bitglass found that stolen data spread around the dark web 11 times quicker today than it did back then. The outcome highlights the challenges both businesses and consumers face in the midst of data breaches, particularly considering the damage that can be done with stolen data in next to no time.

How did Bitglass get its data?

Bitglass researchers created several fake files containing dummy stolen credentials on various dark web forums and marketplaces. Researchers were able to track the files as they were shared around the dark web, highlighting how quickly they circulated to various locations and how many people would look at and potentially buy a stolen data file.

Huge uplift in dark web activity compared to 2015

In analysing the file activity, Bitglass found:

  • The supposed stolen data received over 13,200 views, compared to 1,100 in 2015 – an increase of 1,100%.
  • In 2015, it took almost two weeks for the data to receive 1,100 views. In comparison, it took less than a day for 2021’s data to receive the same number of views.

Writing in a report covering the outcome of the new experiment, Mike Schuricht, who leads Bitlgass’ Threat Research Group, said, “We expect that the increasing volume of data breaches as well as more avenues for cybercriminals to monetise exfiltrated data has led to this increased interest and activity surrounding stolen data on the Dark Web.”

What types of data are cybercriminals interested in?

As part of its experiment, Bitglass created different subsets of fake data to identify which data types were more attractive to cybercriminals.

Retail data came out on top, receiving 37% of all clicks to the Bitglass files, followed by US Government network data at 32%.

Having such data provides an insight into the minds of cybercriminals and the type of stolen data they want to buy. Retail and Government data being most popular is unsurprising given the potential for credit card, bank details, and other data that would make it easier to commit theft or fraud to be included in such data breaches.

Anonymity is on the rise, too

Bitglass also found that dark web users are increasingly focusing on their own anonymity when trying to gain access to others’ data. 93% of those viewing the fake data files were anonymous in 2021, up from 67% in the 2015 experiment.

On this point and concluding the report, Schuricht wrote, “In comparing the results of this latest experiment to that of 2015, it is clear that data on the Dark Web is spreading farther, faster. Not only that, but cybercriminals are getting better at covering their tracks and taking steps to evade law enforcement efforts to prosecute cybercrime.”

If your data has been stolen and leaked onto the Dark Web, you could be entitled to compensation

Have you been a victim of fraud resulting from a data breach, whether from a retailer or elsewhere?

If so, you could be entitled to compensation.

Contact LawPlus today for a free, no-obligation review of your case and to learn if you may have grounds for a data breach claim.


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