Oct 2, 2018

The unreliability of scary hacking statistics from the dark web

Photo: Paul Giamou/Getty Images

A bevy of news stories and researchers will tell you that hackers sell personal data for frighteningly small amounts of money on the dark web. According to a new report from Terbium Labs, those statistics might be well-intentioned but are almost certainly not helpful to understanding the issue.

Why it matters: Reports about how much money credit cards cost in criminal markets don't tend to use consistent definitions — there's no way to draw any meaning from a report last year saying card information costs $5 and one today saying it costs $10.

  • Costs vary for any number of reasons, Emily Wilson, Terbium fraud intelligence manager, tells Axios.
  • Shoppers can buy in bulk. The older the cards are, the more likely they are to have been canceled. There are Black Friday sales. "There are markets that are more like big box stores and more like boutiques," says Wilson.

Adding rigor: Bringing scientific rigor and consistent definitions could be really useful. We don't know, notes Wilson, if the prices go back up after Black Friday or how law-enforcement actions or service disruptions change costs.

  • Until there's more consistency, Wilson will see these studies more as a marketing tool than a useful fact-finding operation.
  • "We need to stop doing what's easy and start doing what's right. Right now these are selling fear," says Wilson.

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Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic primary caucus, becoming the clear frontrunner among 2020 Democratic presidential primary election candidates.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

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South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting these are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the United States.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel and Lebanon, while Iran reported its sixth death from the virus. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 Friday to 433 on Saturday and Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 by Saturday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.