Stolen account details 'sold for £200 a time'

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The Independent Online

Email passwords and bank account details are being sold online on the black market for up to £200 a time, according to a study by Symantec, the internet security business.

Bank account details fetch between £15 and £198, according to Symantec, while email passwords are sold for as much as £173 or as little as 50p.

The biggest market is for credit card details, which fetch between 25p and £2.47 a time – but which account for 22 per cent of items sold on the black market.

Symantec said the cards are typically sold in batches of 10 or 20. However, they don't fetch as much as some other pieces of information, as credit cards are usually only good for one or two transactions before they are cancelled.

Lee Sharrocks, the consumer sales director at Symantec UK, said criminals are earning up to £4,500 a week selling personal data to other criminal gangs, using sophisticated pieces of software to "phish" for the information.

"The latest findings from Symantec show that the cyber criminal of today is highly skilled and intelligent," he said. "With such sophisticated means of online attacks, it is essential that consumers are aware of the new types of threats that they face everyday and understand how to protect themselves and their identities.

"The internet underworld is growing at an alarming rate, with the latest trends showing that the growth of black market auction sites is continuing to increase. It's a multibillion- dollar criminal industry, and identities are becoming cheaper and easier to buy online.

"With the introduction of software toolkits to provide access to the technology needed to become involved in these identity scams, we can only expect this trend to continue to grow, so the need for consumer vigilance is higher than ever."

Mr Sharrocks said criminals could buy phishing software packages on the black market for as little as £25, which they then use to start gathering data.

Symantec found that the US was the country with the largest volume of underground servers, followed by Germany and Sweden.