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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Private Data Traded Online

Almost 20,000,000 pieces of private data have been illegally bought and sold on the Internet in the beginning of 2012, which allowed fraudsters opening new accounts.

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The statistics was provided by the latest results of Experian’s “Life in a Box” experiment. The latter has found that almost 20 million pieces of private data were traded illegitimately in the first 6 months of 2012. This is more than in the whole of 2011.

The experiment in question was carried out at the beginning of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, and its results revealed that this figure had doubled in 2011 and would double in 2012 as well. The volunteer for a credit company was placed in a London shop front for 7 days with a laptop in order to find out where, when, how often and how securely private details like names and addresses were submitted. The experiment focused especially on the login and password combination, because this data formed 90% of the market of illegal data on the Internet.

According to the survey result, the volunteer, though being a savvy user, had made basic security mistakes when trying to quickly get things done. For example, he used the same password for several accounts, failed to update a browser, and failed to check the security of the sites by the padlock icon when shopping online.

As a result, all of the 8 temporary email addresses used by the volunteer were taken over within 5 hours, and most of the credentials were hijacked within 5 minutes by people located across the world – from Europe to South Africa.

Emails containing or relating to passwords attracted the most of the interest, and correspondences with family and friends were on the second place. Experian pointed out that although 14% of the British admitted to being concerned about the risk of online ID theft, 43% had no worries about their security.

60% of Internet users never log out of websites, and 25% never check for a security padlock, even if they are shopping. Everyone knows about risk of spam, but 17% of the users admitted they sometimes opened spam letters and 2% clicked on links hidden inside. Experian calls for the Internet users to keep their personal information safe by using strong unique passwords for different accounts. People are also recommended to steer clear of attractive deals and check for SSL Encryption. The latter is used to protect sensitive data.

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