Researchers have found over 15 billion credentials from
more than 100,000 data breaches on the dark web, including access to everything
from streaming services to banking accounts and financial services.
Despite what people might think about data breaches and
hackers, most incidents have a different entry vector. When attackers
compromise a company’s infrastructure, they usually have the right credentials,
which means that it’s more difficult to detect them once they’re inside.
The dark web is where these stolen credentials are found,
with many of these websites operating like virtual stores. Users stroll
through, picking and choosing what they want. It’s basically a criminal
enterprise that goes far beyond selling access to Netflix.
The Photon Research Team identified a large number of
these credentials, ranging from account compromise (think Netflix) to complete
network compromise, used in ransomware attacks. The prices for the latter would
go for an average of $3,139 and up to $140,000.
“Privileged accounts, like administrator accounts,
are considered extremely valuable in the criminal underworld,” say
the researchers. “Not only do they give access to a network, but they
feature the highest levels of control and trust, and their permissions are nigh
unlimited. A person using a privileged account could change system
configuration settings, read and modify sensitive data, or give other users
access to critical assets.”
Some of the credentials identified by the researchers
include data for cybersecurity, architecture and engineering and petroleum
companies, along with universities and even state governments.
The bulk of compromised accounts come from
banking/financial services and are the most expensive, averaging $70.91.
Surprisingly, the second place is occupied by access for antivirus programs,
When it comes to geography spread, US-based accounts are
the most wanted, followed by Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and
In total, more than 15 billion leaked credentials were
identified in the wild, out of which 5 billion seem completely unique.