It's no secret that criminals are stealing credit card and bank account
data and selling it underground. But most people would find it shocking
to learn just how little their sensitive personal information costs.
Symantec on Thursday is launching its Norton Online Risk Calculator,
a tool that people can use to see how much their online information is
worth on the black market. The tool also offers a risk rating based on
demographics, online activity, and estimated value of online
I tried the tool when I was initially briefed on it a few
months ago and was surveyed about my gender and age range; online
assets (including credit card and bank account data, brokerage
accounts, e-mail accounts, and social network accounts) and an
estimated value of all that information; whether I use security
software; how cautious I am when online; and how much I think my
information is worth.
I use security software (and do my financial transactions mostly on a Mac
at home), am fairly cautious while Web surfing, and didn't put a high
dollar figure on the value of my digital information. My security risk
turned out to be 37 percent, or medium, and the black market worth of
my online assets was calculated to be $11.29. Those figures didn't
change when I modified the gender, age, and estimated value of the
A recent Microsoft Research report
concludes that stolen data offered for sale in underground IRC channels
is difficult to monetize because of all the--get this--con artists
Regardless of whether the underground revenue figures are overblown,
the data is being harvested, sometimes in huge batches, during data
breaches at large payment processors, and there is a market for it.
It's discomfiting to think a criminal could pay as little as $11 to get
access to my sensitive personal data for identity fraud purposes, while
I could end up spending lots of energy and time--years even--reporting
the crime, trying to fix my credit rating, and getting my life back to
Symantec isn't trying to scare consumers with the Norton Online
Risk Calculator, but to raise awareness of the risks, said Marian
Merritt, Internet safety advocate at Symantec.
"We still find consumers who think using just antivirus is sufficient," she said.
recommends that people use security suites that offer antivirus,
firewall, and intrusion detection and prevention software, as well as
keep their operating system and browsers updated.