What Can Hackers Do with My information
More criminals are turning to the internet to conduct crime than ever before. Javelin Strategy and Research have reported that identity theft is becoming a huge problem. To illustrate how much of a problem this is, identity theft was up 16% in 2016 over 2015. That’s a big increase and one that can only be expected to get worse with time if authorities don’t step their game up.
PII (personal identifiable information)
Criminals who engage in identity theft are always on the lookout for peoples PII. When people talk about PII, they are talking about all the data which is held in the public domain and privately which can describe and identify you. PII is information that is explicitly about you.
What do hackers do with PII after an attack?
After a hacker successfully obtains your information, they run through a checklist of sorts.
1. Organize the stolen data – After obtaining information, hackers generally sort information out looking for authentication credentials, personal information such as names, addresses and phone numbers and financial information like credit card details.
2. Sell personal data – The next step is to put together all of the personal data such as names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses and then attempt to sell them in bulk. The information is more useful and valuable to buyers the more recent it is because there is a smaller window of time for the data to be changed by its real owners. Quartz has released information saying that a full set of a person’s personal information which includes an identification number, address, birthdate, and sometimes credit card information can cost anywhere from $1 all the way to $450.
3. Inventory good stuff further – Hackers then look for valuable accounts. Examples of valuable accounts include government addresses, military addresses and company emails and passwords.
4. Offload the cards – Information of the financial sort is sold in bundles. A person who knows what they are doing can buy credit card information in bundles of ten to a hundred easily. The process is fairly simple; a "broker" buys the card information with the intent of selling them to a "carder." The carder avoids being detected by making evasive purchases. To elaborate, a typical carder will use stolen credit card information to buy gift cards to different stores or maybe to a site like Amazon. They then use the gift cards to buy physical items. After purchasing said physical items, they sell them for a profit through a legitimate website like eBay or through the dark web.
5. They then finish by selling in bulk – After a couple of months, the hacker then sells the authentication credentials at a discounted price. They do this because the company has most likely discovered that they’ve been breached and taken the necessary steps to protect the PII of its customers. This means that the authentication credentials are almost worthless.
A couple of the ways that hackers can use your PII in real-world scenarios
• Open a new credit card or loan.
• Change a billing address so that you don’t receive the bills and aren’t aware of purchases.
• Open utility accounts in your name.
• Purchase mobile phones.
• Open a fresh bank account and start writing bad cheques.
• Withdraw your funds using your debit card information.
• Obtain new ID’s and masquerade themselves as you.
• They can frame you for a crime you didn’t commit by using your information in the event of an arrest or court action.
The most important tip that companies tell their customers to avoid being hacked is to use different passwords for different accounts. This is because you can protect yourself if one of your accounts is compromised. Hackers are scary, but if you don't visit any shady websites or click on risky links, you should be good to go.