Online black market for counterfeit documents and hacking guides growing

According to a new report by Dell Secureworks, hacking tutorials and counterfeit documents are among some of the fastest growing sellers on black market websites.

The study, which was carried out by David Shear and Joe Stewart, indicates that these underground sites are selling more identity documents than last year.

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The research revealed that a scanned copy of a Social Security card, along with a name and address, costs in the region of $250, with additional supporting documents available for an extra $100. Further documents like a driving licence are also easily accessed, meaning all the information required to carry out identity theft could be purchased for less than $500.

Network security analyst David Shear, who also helped carry out the study, believes that the market for these goods is growing due to more organisations requiring identity checks to use their services.

“We believe that this is definitely contributing to the growth of the counterfeit-documents business in the hacker markets,” he told ArsTechnica. “We believe that as the proof-of-identity requirements become more stringent, the market for these counterfeit documents will continue to grow, so in turn, the data contained in passports, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, and utility bills will be sought after more.”

It was also found that, despite other items slightly increasing in price on the black market, remote access Trojans (RATs) have actually dropped in value. RATs are used by hackers to take over a compromised device, but the growth of freely available pirated versions has seen a decrease in their value. RATs are currently selling for between $20 and $50, compared to between $50 and $250 last year.

Tutorials and guides on how to commit acts of cybercrime through hacking are also popular, many selling for prices as low as $1.

Read more: Revealed: The secret government guide to encryption, hacking, and surveillance

The report by Dell Secureworks highlights that while high-profile crimes such as the recent Sony hack make international news, hundreds of incidents of identity theft and hacking occur every day.