NordVPN researchers analyzed a database of 6 Million stolen payment cards found on the dark web.
Experts say this is just “a tip of the iceberg” because 63% of cards came bundled with other private information.
Even though banks and other financial institutions do a lot to protect their customers from payment card fraud, criminals still find their way into victims’ wallets. The newest research by NordVPN analyzed 6 million stolen payment cards found on the dark web.
Two in three cards came bundled with at least some private information, such as an address, phone number, email address, or even Social Security number (SSN).
As many as 22,504 (0,4%) analyzed payment cards belonging to Malaysia. Researchers also estimated that the average price of Malaysian cards on the dark web is 35.54 ringgits (global average – 31.1 ringgits).
Malaysian payment cards are prone to fraud: According to NordVPN’s card fraud risk index, on a scale from 0 to 1, Malaysia’s payment card fraud risk index is 0.67.
“The cards researchers found are just the tip of the iceberg. The information sold alongside these cards makes it much more dangerous,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven, a cybersecurity advisor at NordVPN.
“In the past, experts linked payment card fraud to brute-forcing attacks — when a criminal tries to guess a payment card number and CVV to use their victim’s card.
However, most of the cards we found during our research were sold alongside their victims’ email and home addresses, which are impossible to brute force. We can therefore conclude that they were stolen using more sophisticated methods, such as phishing and malware.”
Identity theft through payment card fraud
By selling the database analyzed in the research, cybercriminals could earn more than 82 million ringgits. If purchased, these payment card details could net criminals much more than they originally paid for them.
9,000 payment cards for sale included their Malaysian owners’ home addresses, 4,600 telephone numbers, 3,500 cards included email addresses, and around 134 cards included their owners’ date of birth.
If a data breach or hack exposes users’ card details as well as their addresses and other personal information, it can lead to identity theft. Once the attacker has obtained the victim’s name, home address, and email address, they may even abuse legal methods (such as using the GDPR’s right to access more personal information) to further the identity theft scheme or commit other malicious activities.
Malta, Australia, and New Zealand are at the top of the risk index, and Malaysia in 21st place
Based on their findings, NordVPN researchers have calculated the risks posed by credit card theft and related cyberattacks to residents in 98 countries. Malta, Australia, and New Zealand came at the top of the risk index, and Malaysia came in 21st place.
On the other end of the spectrum, Russia had the lowest risk score, and China was 3rd from last. These findings seem to confirm prevailing hypotheses regarding the location of large-scale hacking operations and the purposeful targeting of Anglo-European countries.
58.1% of stolen cards issued in the US
Over half of the 6 million stolen credit card records analyzed came from the US, most likely due to its high rates of card penetration, sizable population, and a strong economy. However, stolen US cards commanded a comparatively low price (30.44 ringgits as opposed to the 31.1 ringgits global average) on dark web marketplaces — the most valued cards (at 51,20 ringgits on average) were from Denmark.
How to protect yourself from payment card fraud
“Few criminals now use brute force to steal payment card information. This means that techniques are becoming more sophisticated. However, this also means that informed users have less chance of being affected,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven. He has provided the following tips to help users feel more secure online.
- Use impenetrable passwords: Use different passwords for each account and store your passwords in an encrypted password manager, such as NordPass. Make sure your passwords consist of at least 20 letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Download your bank’s app: Use it to track your money, paying particular attention to any unusual deductions. Some apps will notify you of every transaction in real-time — just make sure to look.
- Respond to data breaches: Change your username and password immediately if a company informs you that your details were involved in a data breach. If you’ve used the same one elsewhere, change it there too.
- Use anti-malware software: Anti-malware software (such as NordVPN’s Threat Protection) will ensure that you do not download malicious files to your device and will protect you from info-stealing viruses.
See the full report here.