Netflix log-in credentials for sale on the Dark Web

Image: IDGNS

3 December 2015

Cybercriminals aim to profit from emerging trends—be they social, political, economic, or cultural. True to form, thieves are now channelling their seemingly boundless greed, immense cunning, and dauntless entrepreneurial zeal to cash in on the cord-cutting craze.

According to a new McAfee Labs report titled The Hidden Data Economy: The Marketplace for Stolen Digital Information, cybercriminals have taken to selling stolen streaming-video-service log-ins. These sales usually take place on illegal online marketplaces on the so-called “Dark Web,” the Internet’s seedy underbelly that can only be accessed using special tools. The report can be downloaded here.

Once you cross over to the dark side, you can secure “lifetime” access to all kinds of streaming services for laughably low prices. The going rate for HBO Now and online cable offerings like Comcast’s Xfinity TV GO is said to be less than $10 (€9.48) per account, for example, while access to premium sports streaming services are going for around $15 (€14.22). The security firm says it has even seen streaming accounts being offered for less than $1 (€0.95) in some instances.

“With single accounts to digital services selling for less than a dollar, criminals must move a lot of online accounts to make their efforts worthwhile,” McAfee observes in the report.

It is not uncommon for friends and family to share log-in information for video-streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Go; the same is true for sports services such as MLB.TV and NFL Sunday Ticket. Some analysts pejoratively describe these folks as “cord cheaters,” but this kind of sharing isn’t illegal, and the service providers’ policies are sufficiently lax that we have to wonder if they object to the practice.

Buying and selling stolen log-ins, on the other hand, is definitely outside the law. And if your log-in credentials end up stolen and resold, you could lose access to the service you’re paying for. If it is a video-on-demand service like Vudu, which is tied to your credit card account and lets you download purchased movies, the damage could be a lot worse.

The advice is to make sure you are not a sitting duck for cybercriminals. Formulate a complex password using a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, and change it on a regular basis. Yes, it is a pain; but it is a minor hassle compared to what could happen if you don’t.



IDG News Service

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