Target hackers have more data than they can sell

Those who stole the data appear to be keeping a low profile on underground forums

What's the downside to successfully stealing 40 million credit card numbers from Target? Trying to sell the data.

There's a thriving economy among cybercriminals, some of whom specialize in stealing credit card numbers to others who figure out a way to profit. But it's also constrained by supply and demand.

Too many card numbers on the market inevitably drives the price of a set of details down. Card information, referred to in underground forums as "dumps," are often priced according to how recently the details were stolen, its likely spending limit and whether the hackers have captured a PIN for the card.

Prices can range from a few dollars up to US$100. Cybercriminals often advertise the kind of data they've captured from the card's magnetic stripe, which has three so-called "tracks," each containing data.

"Track 1" data contains a card number, the victim's name and the card's expiration data, and Track 2 data contains the card number and expiration data. The third track is rarely used.

"You can imagine that having a lot of stolen credit cards will not net the hackers, say $35 per card for all 40 million," said Alex Holden, who runs a cybercrime consultancy, Hold Security. "Even if the hackers are willing to sell cards for $1 a card, no one will buy the stolen goods in these amounts."

Target said attackers likely intercepted 40 million debit and credit card numbers between Nov. 27 to Dec. 15, 2013, one of the busiest shopping periods in the U.S. Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in an interview with CNBC on Sunday that malware was discovered on point-of-sale terminals.

How those terminals were infected is still a mystery. Computer security experts are keeping a close eye on underground forums where the data is traded, looking for clues as to who may be responsible.

So far, they haven't seen much.

"We have seen some comments by other hackers that would suggest that there was no sound exist strategy by the thieves," Holden said. "Right now, they are maybe laying low knowing that everyone is looking for them."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Tags securityHold Securityfraudmalware

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

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest News Articles

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?