Inside the Dark Web there exists a thriving den of criminals where thousands of illegal goods and services are for sale — from drugs, weapons and pornography to financial details and stolen email accounts. According to a recent report by account-monitoring company LogDog, access to personal social media accounts, dating websites and even email accounts are being sold for as little as a couple of dollars.
The firm's "Hot Commodity: How the Dark Web is selling our online accounts" report found that underground stores selling compromised accounts of various websites and online services have become increasingly popular in recent years, suggesting a "shift in the focus of cybercrime".
"Several years back, when stores on online black market stores first became popular, the FBI called the phenomena 'The Industrialisation of the Underground Economy,'" the report reads. "While some...accounts, such as eBay and Amazon, have always been available on the cyber black market, they were normally sold directly by members of the underground economy, not through automated websites."
"Now, it seems the 'revolution' has finally caught on. What this means is that not only are the credit cards and banking accounts that are being targeted by fraudsters becoming readily available for purchase by scammers, but all of our online accounts, are becoming targets - in other words, our entire online identity is at risk."
In these underground marketplaces, which can only be accessed using special software such as Tor to secure one's anonymity, US Social Security numbers are sold for as little $1 - the same price as that for user and password information to pornographic website, Brazzers. While the going price for a Yahoo or Gmail account ranges from 70 cents to $1.2 for a single account, an Amazon account will cost between $0.7 to $6, depending on the available balance and the country it is based in.
Access to a PayPal account, on the other hand, is priced on the higher side of the spectrum at up to $80, depending on the balance left in the account.
On average, Uber and Netflix accounts are priced between $1-$2, while an eBay account costs about $2-$4 for a user account and can go up to $10 for a merchant account.
Dating website accounts are also popular items for sale in the underground market with a Mate1 premium account priced at $4 and an eHarmony account priced at $10. The report also notes that "each site has a different success rate for fraudsters who are conducting romance scams and the price is reflected accordingly."
Although the report does not mention the going rates for access to popular social media site such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, it does find that access to Twitter accounts costs between $2 and $3. However, the report finds that certain stores do sell them for as little as 10-30 cents.
Dell account logins are also sold on the dark market between $0.80 to $2, while Walmart logins usually cost $2.50 on average.
"Any account that can generate fraudsters money, or even help them receive a service for free, has a demand in the cyber underground," the report reads. "This trend has gotten to a point where there are stores completely dedicated to selling only online accounts, without even offering credit cards for sale."
"Fraudsters, it appears, have discovered the financial potential in targeting various online services instead of just banks and credit card issuers, which has led to this shift in the proliferation of underground online account stores."