Criminals who specialise in credit card and bank account theft have ready access to a global underground marketplace with an estimated total fraud value of $8 billion.
In a new report on the underground economy, Symantec estimates the potential value of total advertised goods available for sale on criminal servers was more than $276 million for the full year ending July 2008. This value was determined using the advertised prices of the goods and services and measured how much advertisers would make if they liquidated their inventory.
Credit card information accounted for 31% of the total inventory observed. While stolen credit card numbers sell for as little as $0.10 to $25 per card, the average advertised stolen credit card limit observed by Symantec was more than $4000. Symantec has calculated that the potential worth of all credit cards advertised during the reporting period was $5.3 billion.
The second most common category of goods and services advertised was financial accounts at 20% of the total. While stolen bank account information sells for between $10 and $1000, the average advertised stolen bank account balance is nearly $40,000. Symantec puts the the total worth of the bank accounts advertised at $1.7 billion.
During the reporting period, Symantec counted over 69,000 distinct active advertisers and 44 million total messages posted to underground forums. The potential value of the total advertised goods for the top 10 most active advertisers was $16.3 million for credit cards and $2 million for bank accounts. Furthermore, the potential worth of the goods advertised by the single most active advertiser identified by Symantec during the study period was $6.4 million.
North America hosted the largest number of underground servers, with 45% of the total; Europe/Middle East/Africa hosted 38%; followed by Asia/Pacific with 12% and Latin America with five per cent.