Last month, we published an infographic Know Your Enemies, which illustrated the different cybercrooks users may “meet” firsthand in the virtual neighborhood. Interestingly, a question was raised to us about the differences between the prices of user information.
There are indeed discrepancies between the prices of credit cards between regions. The question, however, is why. We’ve come up with two explanations for this: it’s both a foreign exchange and simple economics.
Foreign Exchanges And Economics Go Hand in Hand
One reason why prices are different can be attributed to currency valuations and the exchange rate. Some of it is regional based, for example German credit cards having a 7 day claw-back option. For example, a US and European credit card with both a standard limit of 3,000 in their native country yields different values when converted to a third currency. In Russian Rubles, the EU one is worth 1.3 times the US one. So if US cards are worth $3, the EU equivalent should be around $4-5.
Cybercrime is also like any typical business, with economics playing a significant part in determining prices. Case in point, it has been observed that more U.S. credit card numbers are up for sale compared to other regions. Hence, simple economics dictates the low prices. The more U.S. credit card numbers there are on the market, the easier they are to exploit. In general, U.S. credit cards are easier to exploit due to their security mechanisms which are lower than European ones. This is part of the reason why U.S. card issuers have started implementing region locks on cards so that these trigger behavioral fraud mechanisms.
Your Identity For A Price
The fact is that the discrepancies are due to all these factors working together to create the value of the stolen information. We must also consider the ease of exploitation of the cards being stolen, as well as the mechanics of supply and demand affecting the pricing of the aforementioned cards. These scammers, however, are just a tip of the iceberg… the underground is more vast and tangled that what we know; prices may also vary because of this.
With this in mind, people must always remember that their information is a commodity. We should exert effort in protecting personal information at all times. We may know our enemies at face value, but it is also important to dig deeper to understand how the business of cybercrime works. To know more about this, you may refer to our latest infographic below. It illustrates how a simple case of Fake AV purchase benefit other players. Specifically, it is an overview on how each player is paid and how lucrative a FAKEAV infection can be to its proponents.
On the other hand, users can trust that we, at Trend Micro will continuously ensure that people can engage with other users through the Internet, and be protected from online threats at the same time.