Illegal Data Trade Grows Massively In 2012


Experian finds the illegal data trade market has doubled in size already in 2012, compared with 2011 figures

The trade in illegal data has grown exponentially in 2012, when compared to figures from the entirety of 2011, a study has shown.

Experian discovered 12 million pieces of data were illegally sold online between January and April. In 2011 9.5 million pieces of personal information were illegally traded.

A massive 90 percent of data illicitly sold online in the first four months of this year consisted of password and login details.

The research suggested users were not being particularly careful when it came to their online lives either, as Britons use an average of just five different passwords despite having 26 different Internet accounts.A quarter use just a single password for the majority of profiles.

Password problems

“The reason password and login combinations make up nine out of ten illegally traded pieces of data is because they give access to a huge amount of other valuable information, such as address books and related accounts,” said Peter Turner, managing director at Experian Consumer Services in the UK and Ireland.

Whilst Experian urged people to use strong, unpredictable passwords, Carl Leonard, senior manager at Websense Security Labs, said passwords were just not enough to protect important data.

“They’re as strong as a simple lock against professional thieves. Passwords can be guessed, cracked or stolen through social engineering,” Leonard said. “Worse still businesses can be attacked and stories of breached password databases make for uneasy reading. Businesses need to think carefully how they secure password information for which they are responsible – encrypting password records and securing the database makes good sense.”

There has been a slew of password breaches this year. In June,  LinkedIn saw over six million of its users’ passwords leaked online, whilst this week Nvidia has been recovering from an attack which has left 400,000 in danger.

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