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How hackers sell your credit card details for as little as £28 on the dark web

IT might sound like something from the latest Star Wars film, but the dark web is a very real place, where criminals exchange stolen goods, drugs, weapons andworse.

Worryingly, it is a place where fraudsters go to sell stolen data, including peoples financial information and login details.

The dark web is a scary place, but you can protect your data from being stolen by following a few simple steps

Credit card information can be sold on the dark web for as little as 28 per piece of data, while login details for email accounts including Gmail and Hotmail can be sold for 90 per account.

So what exactly is the dark web?

The internet is like an iceberg. The billions of pages we visit when we search on Google, or another search engine, make up just a tiny part of the web the tip of the iceberg.

But underneath the water, the deep and dark web can be found, and they make up the majority of the internet.

The deep web holds content that cant be found insearch engine results, and includes common sites including paid-for content,academic data and so on.

The dark web makes up less than 0.01 per cent of the deep web, but is a haven for criminal activity.

In the dark web, websites exist on an encrypted network, so are completely anonymous.This means that people can trade illegal information and goods without the fear of being caught.

This isnt necessarily a bad thing. Whistleblowers, for instance, can pass on information to journalists completely anonymously, or people can access literature that may have been banned by an oppressive government.

Often, though, criminals use the dark web to communicate without the threat of surveillance, and trade illegal goods and information, including child pornography, guns and credit card information.

Financial fraud makes up 12 per cent of the information found on the dark web coming behind file sharing (29 per cent) and leaked data (28 per cent).

The price of financial information on the dark web. Source: Equifax / SecureWorks

How do my details end up on the dark web?

Hackers can steal a persons data using a number of different tools. One such tool is a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) which is a type of programme that conceals itself inside legitimate software and, once installed, gives a hacker complete remote control of the victims system.

These programmes can be sold for as little as 4 on the dark web, according to credit reference agency Equifax.

Other tools include Angler exploit kits, which are programmes that are concealed in websites and look for weaknesses in the security of a computer system in order to install malicious software. This can be bought from 70.

These tools make it possible for criminals to gain access to personal and financial information, which they then go on to sell on the dark web for a profit.

In 2015, the dark web hit headlines when data was stolen from the online infidelity dating siteAshley Madison and dumped on the dark web.

The data includedtheaccount details, credit card information and log-ins of most of the sites 37 million users.

Hackers threatened to upload all customer records if the site wasnt closed down a threat Ashley Madison did not, in the end, listen to.

The cost of login details for personal email and social media accounts. Source: Equifax / Secure Works

How can I protect myself?

The dark web thrives on stolen data and security lapses, so its important to make sure you follow best security practices and keep a close eye on your data at home and at work, saysEquifax.

  • Check your social media privacy settings to ensure that your personal data can only be viewed by people you trust
  • Regularly change your passwords and make sure they are strong, including lots of different numbers, symbols and letters
  • Dont log into unsecured WiFi networks, as these can be a hotbed for fraudsters. Hackers can simply connect to the same network as you and gain access to all your passwords, including bank accounts and emails
  • Be wary of phishing attempts and dont hand over any personal data to anyone, unless you are sure they are legitimate

With use of the dark web growing every year, personal and corporate information is an increasingly sought after product, meaning the average internet user is more at risk than ever before.

But applying some of the above practices could help you protect your personal data.

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