Supply and Demand in Stolen Consumer Records

It would be downright funny if it wasn’t so alarming: a new study shows that cyberthieves are being hit hard by an economic crisis related to supply and demand. The problem? There is so much stolen information being sold on the dark web that prices have dropped significantly.

Yes, there is such an abundance of of stolen medical information available on the dark web that the value of these complete records has been slashed to less than half of what they used to be worth.

It’s a shame really, considering how much work goes into making a complete record, or a “fullz” as a patient’s full set of information is called online. In many cases, the more complete the individual’s record, the more valuable it becomes and therefore the higher price it can fetch. That would require the additional legwork of not only accessing the original health record, but also cross-referencing that patient’s information with other sources. These sources might include financial records, utility bills, W2 forms, or any other identifiers.

According to research conducted through a joint effort by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, Flashpoint, and Intel Security, one of the culprits of the price-drop may be the sheer amount of access that unscrupulous people have to these kinds of records. While sophisticated, high-tech hacking can result in entire databases of stolen information, a hospital billing clerk can also potentially leak multiple patients’ records and confidential information. In short, the more information that’s floating around the dark web, the less valuable that information becomes.

In an even more laughable twist, so-called “famous” hackers can still fetch a higher price for their stolen records than an unknown source. In much, the same way that a wedding dress crafted by a famous designer might be worth tens of thousands of dollars while a handmade dress by a local seamstress would only cost a few hundred, hackers with a reputation to uphold can charge more simply because of their name.

Unfortunately, this is where all of the humor comes to a sudden stop. Every stolen record reflects not only a potentially expensive HIPAA violation to the medical facility it originated from but also the possibility of medical identity theft. While other forms of identity theft and fraud are certainly troubling, medical identity fraud can actually result in life-threatening consequences for the victim of the theft once his records are connected to someone else at the time of their treatment.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more information about current scams and alerts here.

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