TalkTalk hack: Personal data of 'tens of thousands' of Britons available online for £19

Disclosure follows hack of TalkTalk - with many customers remaining unsure if they have been affected

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The Independent Online

Tens of thousands of people's identities are reportedly for sale online for as little as £19.

Approximately 600,000 Britons had their personal details stolen from company databases, as well as government databases, last year.

The information stolen from these databases – allegedly including data from HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions – is enough to seize control of a person’s digital identity, according to the Financial Times.

While the average cost of personal information online is roughly £19.60 ($30), personal information from governmental databases is referred to as the “crown jewels” on the Dark Web – and trades hands for around $75.

A government spokesperson, in a statement to the newspaper, claimed there were a number of “very effective” schemes in place as part of a £860million investment in cyber security.

"Every company board should be fully aware of the risk from cyber-attack, and be confident that the company has proper security in place."

Cases of internet fraud, which includes online identity theft, have reached an all-time high in the UK. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates there were approximately 5.1million incidents of fraud in the past 12 months – and claims many more go unreported.

The data, illegally stolen, is sold on the Dark Web – a type of internet browser accessible with particular computer software – and incredibly difficult for officials to access and trace.

The disclosure comes following a hack on British telecommunications firm TalkTalk on Wednesday last week, which exposed an unknown number of customers’ personal details.

A 15-year-old boy from Northern Ireland was arrested and held overnight on Monday before he was granted bail the following morning in connection with the hack.

Additional reporting by Press Association