Indian Credit and Debit Card Leaks


It is said that the part of the internet that we can easily access is only 10% of the world wide web. So, the internet that we know is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest 90% is what we call the deep web, the mysterious and shady part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines such as Google.

The dark web is a part of the deep web, operating in the shadows of the internet, where people go when they don’t want to be found out. It is the hotbed of criminal activity because cloaked in encryption, the dark web allows users to stay anonymous. All kinds of stuff are sold illegally on the dark web, such as drugs, guns, counterfeit money, stolen subscription credentials, hacked accounts, and as discussed further in this article – credit and debit card details.  


Exposed Credit and Debit Card Details in The Past


In February this year, credit and debit card details of almost half a million Indians were put up for grabs on an underground website on the darknet, the Joker’s Stash. The database was first spotted online by a Singapore based cybersecurity company, Group IB. Each of the 461,976 cards’ details was on sale for $9 each, making the total worth of the data breach as $ 4.2 million. 


The data leaked included sensitive information such as 14-16 digits card numbers, expiration dates, CVV/CVC codes, cardholders’ names, and even email and billing addresses in some cases. All these details are enough to carry out financial transactions online, without any further requirement of authentication. 


“This is the second major leak of cards relating to Indian banks detected by Group IB threat intelligence team in the past several months. In the current case, we are dealing with so-called full – they have info on card number, expiration date, CVV/CVC, cardholder name as well as some extra personal info. The data contained in the current database enables fraudsters to make purchases online. In a basic scenario, criminals purchase luxury goods and sell them,” Dmitry Shestakov, the head of the Group IB cybercrime research unit, told Hindustan Times. 


The First Major Leak


The first leak that is being mentioned here is the one that occurred in October of 2019. Group IB found a similar data breach in which a whopping number of 1.3 million Indians were impacted. Around 1.3 Mn debit and credit card details were up for sale on the same dark web marketplace, Joker’s stash, where each card detail was being sold for $100. But during this data dump, the information leaked was limited to the data contained in a card’s magnetic strip. In the more recent leak, more personal information was also exposed.


“Such type of data is likely to have been compromised online – with the use of phishing, malware, or JS-sniffers – while in the previous case, we dealt with card dumps (the information contained in the card magnetic stripe), which can be stolen through the compromise of offline POS terminals, for example,” Shestakov added. 


According to Group IB’s Hi-Tech Crime Trends 2019/2020 report analyzing card data leaks between October 2018 to late September 2019, the size of the carding (card-stealing) market rose by 33% and amounted to $ 879.7 million till H1-2019. The number of compromised cards uploaded to underground forums increased from 27.1 million to 43.8 million. 


The report estimated that the sale of credit card data is on the rise currently, with a growth rate of 19% in the corresponding period. The increase can be partly attributed to the increasing popularity of JavaScript-sniffers, which enable their operators to steal payment card data from e-commerce websites. 


There is a lot of stolen data that is sold illegally on the dark web. According to research by Digital Shadows, more than 15 billion stolen account credentials are sold on the dark web forums, with almost 5 billion of them considered unique, meaning they haven’t been offered for sale more than once.


Personal details like passwords are sold on the dark web using bitcoins, a crypto-currency that enables two parties to conduct financial transactions without discovering each other’s identity. So, while surfing the dark web isn’t inherently illegal, the dark web, however, is certainly the host of a lot of illegal activity. 


Written By - Radhika Rathi

Edited By - Vaibhav Sharma 


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