Data breaches regularly make the news, with reports of enterprises admitting that personal information has been leaked in hacker attacks. While most people are aware that data regulators require companies to safeguard this sensitive information, not all are aware of just what happens to it after it is stolen by hackers.

Each year, billions of data files are stolen and these attacks on enterprises can result in lucrative rewards for hackers. In the following sections, we explore some of the many ways cybercriminals use the personal information they appropriate from their victims in order to profit from it.

Selling private data to other cybercriminal groups

A simple but effective way for a hacker to receive revenues from the personal data they gain in a breach is to sell it. It often gets sold on to other cybercriminals in transactions conducted at dedicated sites on the dark web. Collections sold on hacker forums can comprise millions of data files that threat operators will rush to purchase so they can employ them in their own criminal campaigns.

Using personal details for identity theft

Personal information obtained by hackers can be used to impersonate those it belongs to. This may involve using financial credentials to make purchases at the expense of a victim or even taking out personal loans in their name. Cybercriminals can also use stolen personal information as part of larger schemes where they impersonate an individual to gain access to even more sensitive information.

Personal data employed in phishing and ransomware strategies

Personal information is often used by cybercriminals in spear phishing campaigns, as it allows them to create emails that their intended targets are more likely to be fooled by. For example, if the hacker uses information that only a friend or trusted colleague would know, a recipient may be willing to impart with material that is even more sensitive. When the personal information involved in a data leak is confidential, hackers may use this fact to extort funds in return for not selling it or exposing it publicly.

Acquiring login credentials for accessing private accounts

When data records taken by hackers include login details like usernames and passwords, these details can enable hackers to access a wealth of personal and enterprise accounts. From online shopping platforms and social media accounts to company portals that offer open gateways to confidential data, cybercriminals can wreak havoc with access to private credentials. Once into accounts, hackers can even lock users out of their own profiles. At best, these attacks cause disruption, but the ramifications can be far worse when payment details are stored.

To combat the campaigns of cybercriminal groups and safeguard organisations and individuals, Galaxkey has devised a secure platform to protect data whether it is in storage or on the move. Featuring comprehensive three-layer encryption, our system will ensure that your sensitive data remains indecipherable even if your network is infiltrated. Designed to keep companies compliant with data regulators like the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), our platform provides strong protection for firms that must handle personal data.