Amid the ongoing health crisis, not only are new COVID-19 cases rising, but also the risk of cybercrime. With more people connected to the internet daily, hackers are taking advantage of vulnerable systems and passwords that can easily be cracked by the use of certain tools. Tech pundits acknowledged that there is apparently a thriving business online wherein personal information is traded in exchange for cryptocurrency and other modes of payment. As such, users are encouraged to follow certain guidelines to prevent exposure.

"The average person uses some 191 services that require them to enter passwords or other credentials. That's a lot to keep on top of, and it presents a huge problem if a compromise occurs, particularly if a person uses the same credentials across multiple services," notes cybersecurity outfit Digital Shadows. As cybercriminals develop advanced methods to crack encryptions and other security protocols, usernames, passwords, and other credentials are at risk of being compromised.

To date, reports show that over 15 billion user credentials sourced from more than 100,000 security breaches are now being distributed online. This is an alarming increase of about 300 percent since 2018, which indicates the need for improved protection. Further research shows that around 5 billion out of the 15 billion are unique, while the rest is the same information used for different accounts or services.

Rick Holland, the CISO and VP of Strategy at the aforementioned cybersecurity firm said: "The message is simple – consumers should use different passwords for every account." It appears cybercriminals are specifically targeting accounts that have tags related to accounting, payments, invoices, and other related subjects. The report even goes on to share an estimated breakdown of how much these credentials are being traded for in the dark web.

A projection of cyber code on a hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. Capitalizing on spying tools believed to have been developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, hackers staged a cyber assault with a self-spreading malware that has infected tens of thousands of computers in nearly 100 countries. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

Credentials that provide access to the world's leading organisations can fetch up to $140,000 at an auction with an average of $3,139. Next up are for financial accounts which can be sold for about $70.91 each. What follows is access to antivirus applications or services which amount to $21.67. Finally, those for social media, file sharing, media streaming, and virtual private networks (VPNs) go for below $10.