A new study investigates nearly 30,000 guides to explore what fraudsters sell and teach aspiring cybercriminals.
For years, cybercriminals have used the Dark Web as a platform for devising new ways to steal data, break into IT systems, and abuse victims’ identities. As they explore new techniques, their “how-to” instructions for crime are preserved in guides and tutorials on Dark Web markets.
Researchers at Terbium Labs analyzed roughly 30,000 guides and more than 15,000 supporting files to learn how cybercriminals teach and sell these skills, plus how this insight can help businesses.
“The guides provide unique insights into how cybercriminals think, talk, and operate on the Dark Web,” says Emily Wilson, vice president of research, in a statement. By evaluating the content of these guides, companies can better defend against their techniques.
The resulting report sheds light on the types of data fraudsters value most. Email addresses are the single most valuable data type, the researchers concluded, based on mentions of this data type that most often appear in isolation. Email addresses give hackers a reliable, unique identifier for phishing campaigns, account takeover, and other attacks intended to commit fraud.
Payment cards, cited in 36% of guides analyzed, are the most common financial data type. Cybercriminals prefer credit to debit cards 85% of the time; debit cards often come with limitations that make it difficult to defraud their owners. Social Security numbers are also valuable but less in demand than usernames, passwords, and email addresses.
Keywords related to personal data appeared in 55.7% of fraud guides, more so than financial information keywords, which appeared in 44.3% of guides. Researchers note personal data is most often used in relation to existing financial accounts or as a means to open new accounts.
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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial … View Full Bio