Symantec's 'Dark Vision' mines carder sites

Symantec has developed a service that monitors carder forums for identity theft information.

Researchers at Symantec have developed a system that mines underground Web sites and chat rooms for sensitive information that is being sold.

Called Dark Vision, the system was first developed in mid-2006, and allows Symantec to "track the underground economy," said Oliver Friedrichs, director of emerging technologies with Symantec Security Response.

Symantec hasn't decided yet when or if it will roll Dark Vision into its product line. "At this point it's really an early prototype," Friedrichs said. "But we see a number of different opportunities, including the potential to warn consumers where we see their information being disclosed."

Identity thieves meet with information-buying criminals on a variety of "carder" Web sites, and then meet up in chat rooms or on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels to buy and sell the data.

A credit card number can be bought for as little as US$6, Friedrichs said, but other information such as social security numbers, addresses, and telephone numbers is also there for the taking. "You can actually buy a complete identity of someone for... US$14 to US$18 on average," he said. "They're really dumping a variety of records"

Dark Vision gives security researchers a graphical presentation of the data it has mined from these Web sites and IRC chats, showing exactly where the carder servers are located and what is being discussed.

Because carders exchange the majority of their credit card information in secret -- and for a price -- Dark Vision captures only a small fraction of the data that has been stolen, generally recording only sample data that is posted in the forums to prove the seller is legitimate.

In its first three months of testing, Dark Vision dug up about 800 stolen credit card numbers, Friedrichs said.

Still, Friedrichs thinks the tool may be useful to credit card issuers or companies that are looking for early hints on the source of data breaches, and could be delivered as part of Symantec's global services organization.

Symantec is not the first company to look into mining this type of information for profit. A small Malibu, California, company called CardCops has already gone into a similar line of business, trolling the Internet for compromised data and reporting it to merchants, authorities, and consumers.

Last year the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that identity theft was affecting millions of households each year and costing about US$6.4 billion in losses annually

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?