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 logins. 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. You can download the entire report using the link below:
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 per account, for example, while access to premium sports streaming services are going for around $15. The security firm says it has even seen streaming accounts being offered for less than $1 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.
Why this matters: It’s not uncommon for friends and family to share login 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 logins, on the other hand, is definitely outside the law. And if your login credentials end up stolen and resold, you could lose access to the service you’re paying for. If it’s 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.
Our advice: Make sure you’re 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’s a pain; but it’s a minor hassle compared to what could happen if you don’t.