Hackers Find Ways To Steal Data For $15
Hackers Get Creative With Credit Info
Hackers have found a way to access personal data stored by credit bureaus, and are advertising this access in group chats used by violent criminals.
This revelation raises serious concerns about the security of personal information and the potential for violent crimes.
Personal data accessibility was demonstrated in an investigation conducted by 404 Media. Using the messaging app Telegram, the reporter entered minimal information about a target and received a file containing every address the person had ever lived at, as well as the names and birth years of their relatives.
The file also included the target's mobile phone numbers, provider, personal email addresses, and even information from their driver's license. All of this data was available for just $15 in Bitcoin, with the option to purchase the target's Social Security number for $20.
This access to personal data appears to be tapping into a powerful source of information known as the target's credit header. This data is collected by credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion through their credit cards. From there, the data is distributed to other companies for various purposes, such as debt collectors, insurance companies, and law enforcement.
Criminals have managed to infiltrate this data supply chain, potentially by stealing former law enforcement officers' identities. They have been selling unfettered access to their fellow criminals online. The tool used in this investigation has also been used to gather information on high-profile targets like Elon Musk, Joe Rogan, and even President Joe Biden.
The members of these online communities where the tool is advertised engage in activities such as swatting, SIM swapping, and physical violence. The tool offers significant power and requires little technical sophistication to obtain a victim's sensitive data.
Additionally, it is difficult for users to opt out of this data sharing, and the data may be available even to individuals who have taken precautions in protecting their personal details and have had their information removed from other data brokers.
Senator Ron Wyden, a long-time critic of poor information storage at major companies, expressed concern about the lack of control over personal data to 404 Media, urging the government to intervene. He stated:
"These companies have demonstrated that they can't control who has access to their data products. The government needs to stop these companies from packaging and selling our personal information, and the senior executives that put profit over national security and Americans' safety should be punished accordingly."
The supply chain of personal data begins when individuals apply for a credit card, and their financial institution transfers personal details to the major credit bureaus. This process helps bureaus track individuals' credit scores.
Consequently, a majority of American adults have their personal information collected and stored by these bureaus.
The credit bureaus also play a role in preventing fraud, making their ability to protect personal data crucial. The recent breach highlights the urgent need for enhanced security measures and stricter regulations to ensure the privacy and safety of individuals' personal information.