According to research provided by the Rand Corporation it’s all about supply and demand. The study found that high-profile data breaches — think Target, TJX, PlayStation — create massive surges of available credit card data online. The more cards on the market, the less valuable they become, especially when banks cancel and replace hacked credit cards with new ones.
As the study’s authors put it:
A Twitter account costs more to purchase than a stolen credit card because the former’s account credentials potentially have a greater yield. Immediately after a large breach, freshly acquired credit cards command a higher price—as there is greater possibility for the credit cards to still be active. But after time, prices fall because the market becomes flooded…
Next question is how much is a hacked social media account worth on the black market? Rand says depending on the type, costs range from $16 to $325. During a large credit card breach, the value of stolen credit card data can costs as little as $0.75 per record. For the banks however, the costs are significantly larger. Estimates of the cost of the Target breach exceed $200 million for financial institutions.
Just remember, these numbers should be a wake up call to all. On the one hand they may show the relatively small amount of social data available, hence the high price. On the other hand, it’s a high value target and the war is on.