An Exploration of the Factors Affecting the Advertised Price For Stolen Data presented at ecrime 2013

by Thomas J. Holt, Olga Smirnova, Yi-ting Chua.,

Summary : A growing body of research has developed exploring the ways that data thieves dispose of information acquired through phishing, hacking, and mass data breaches. These studies suggest a range of products are sold in forums and IRC channels at a fraction of its true value. There is also substantial risk for participants as they may be cheated by vendors who may not deliver products or simply provide invalid data. These conditions have led researchers to question the nature of the market, in that the actual price for data is much higher than what is advertised based on the risk of repeatedly purchasing bad data. As a result, there may be multiple markets for data operating with different pricing based on the prevalence of unreliable vendors. In order to explore these issues, this study utilizes a sample of threads from 13 Russian and English language forums involved in the sale of stolen data to consider the influence of various social conditions on the advertised price for dumps and eBay and PayPal credentials. The findings suggest that prices are lower in markets where vendors may cheat customers, and higher in markets that appear more organized and legitimate. The implications of this study for research and practitioners are examined in depth.