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Your FACEBOOK data only worth 520 on dark web

Issued: 2018-03-22

Published: Mar 22, 2018 10:23 a.m. ET

The chilling reasons the value of your personal data varies wildly, depending on how you lost it

By

Perhaps this is the most depressing aspect of the recent privacy violations on Facebook FB, -1.40% : The most important parts of your identity can be sold online for just a few dollars.

Consumers have to spend hours of their time — and, sometimes, their own money — when they find out their driver’s license, Facebook “likes” or Social Security number have been exposed to hackers. But those who sell them are making only petty cash.

That’s according to a new report from the content marketing agency Fractl, which analyzed all the fraud-related listings on three large “dark web” marketplaces — Dream, Point and Wall Street Market — over several days last month.

The “dark web” is part of the internet that people can only access by using special software. To create this report, Fractl accessed the dark web through the browser Tor. People buy other risky or illegal substances on the dark web, including drugs, pirated content like movies or music and materials that help with scams, including credit-card “skimmers.”

Facebook logins can be sold for $5.20 each because they allow criminals to have access to personal data that could potentially let them hack into more of an individual’s accounts. The credentials to a PayPal PYPL, -2.01%   account with a relatively high balance can be sold on the dark web for $247 on average, the report found.

One’s entire online identity, including personal identification numbers and hacked financial accounts, can be sold for only about $1,200 on the dark web, Fractl found.

That’s because so much personal information may already available to hackers, after repeated data breaches across a range of industries. It comes down to supply and demand, said Adam Levin, the founder of the security firm CyberScout and the author of “Swiped.” Hackers want to grab personal information and sell it as fast as they can, so they can move on, he said.

“With 5.3 billion records released due to accidents and 2.6 billion records released due to hacking last year, personal information is becoming cheap,” said Rick McElroy, a security strategist at the security firm Carbon Black.

Wealthier individuals are more valuable to criminals, and those without money are worth less, said Al Pascual, a senior vice president and research director at the security firm Javelin. But the more information hackers have, the more valuable the data.

“A college student with not a lot of money in the bank might be worth $50,” Pascual said. “If you’re near retirement, with a fat retirement account and plenty of money in the bank, you’ll be worth more.”

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