How Much Is Your Data Worth?

By McKenzie Dunn 11/18/2016

It may come as a surprise, but selling sensitive data on the black market is a highly lucrative business. All those numbers are worth something and due to the growing volume of records stolen with each new breach, that worth is not small.

WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION HOLDS VALUE ON THE BLACK MARKET?

The answer here is simple: Any piece of personal information is like a breadcrumb that will lead to the bigger picture of your identity (financial, medical, etc.) and is worth money.

Email addresses, passwords and credit/debit card numbers are usually the first things we think about when we consider sensitive data. While these bits of information are major players in identity theft, there are other tidbits worth stealing, as well. The most surprising may be, Netflix accounts, social media accounts and online cable TV subscriptions. All of these usually require email addresses as usernames and if those emails are compromised, they can lead to large amounts of valuable data.

LET’S LOOK AT MONETARY VALUES.

Here is a list of personal information ranked by monetary worth according to an article on Trend Micro.

  • Respondents from different countries placed different values, but they all agreed that their passwords are the most important piece of personal data, which they valued at US$75.80
  • Health information and medical records are second, valued at an average of US$59.80. US respondents put the highest value on their health records at US$82.90 while European consumers consider theirs to be worth US$35
  • Social Security numbers are third, at US$55.70
  • Payment details rank at fourth at US$36.60. US citizens priced this information at US$45.10 and Japanese valued it at US$42.20. Europeans priced it at US$20.70
  • Purchase history is the fifth most valued, at US$20.60. US respondents valued it the highest again, while Japan and Europe valued it less
  • Physical location information is sixth at US$16.10. US citizens priced it at US$38.40 while consumers in Japan and Europe priced it a paltry US$4.80 and US$5.10 respectively
  • Home address is seventh at US$12.90, with US consumers once more pricing it at US$17.90. Japanese respondents pegged this information at US16.30 while those in Europe priced it at US$5.00
  • Photos and videos of themselves rank eighth most valued at US$12.20. US respondents wanted US$26.20 for their pictures, while Japan and Europe both asked US$4.70 for theirs
  • Marital Status is pegged at US$8.30. Japanese consumers asked for US$12.70, while US and European consumers pegged this information at US$6.10 and US$6.00 respectively
  • Finally, name and gender are the least valued at US$2.90

With numbers like these, it’s no wonder we have seen massive growth in the theft of personal information in recent years.

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS.

The largest breach of 2016 resulted in a loss of 412 million records. Let’s say that the stolen information was passwords alone. At an average of US$75.80 per password, that’s a total worth of US$31,229,600,000! On top of that, any additional piece of information attached to that password raises the price.

Just for fun, let’s calculate what that breach would have been worth had it only released names. As stated above, names are worth the least amount of money on the black market. 412 million names at US$2.90 per piece comes to US$1,194,800,000. That’s still enough money to cause anyone to question their morals.

Knowing the true value of your sensitive data should be enough to inspire a sense of urgency when it comes to securing sensitive information. Tips on steps you can take as a consumer to protect your personal information can be found in our blog at MYSENSITIVEDATA.COM.


Identity Theft and the Value of Your Personal Data. (2015, April 30). Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/news/online-privacy/identity-theft-and-the-value-of-your-personal-data