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.

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 6,804,044 — Total deaths: 362,678 — Total recoveries — 2,788,806Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 1,909,077 — Total deaths: 109,497 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.

George Floyd updates

Protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 6. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Thousands of demonstrators are gathering in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds have assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make new changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct.

Why the coronavirus pandemic is hitting minorities harder

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The coronavirus’ disproportionate impact on black and Latino communities has become a defining part of the pandemic.

The big picture: That's a result of myriad longstanding inequities within the health care system and the American economy.