The underground economy is booming even as the rest of the economy lurches towards recession, according to a new study by Symantec.
The net security giant reports that the cybercrime economy has grown into an efficient, global marketplace to handle the trade in stolen goods and fraud-related services. It estimates the combined value of goods in underground forums at $276m for the 12 months prior to the end of June 2008.
Credit card data made up nearly a third (31 per cent) of the advertised sales logged, recorded the Symantec study. Purloined credit card numbers sold for between $0.10 to $25 per card, with the average advertised stolen credit card limit coming in at around $4,000. Credit card information is often sold to fraudsters in job lots, with discounts for large purchases.
Login details for online accounts were the subject of one in five sales and the second most commonly offered commodity in underground crooks bazaars. Stolen login details were offered for anything between $10 and $1,000, depending on the balance and location of compromised accounts. The average balance of these accounts was around 40,000.
Other items up for sale included email accounts and pirated computer games or application software.
Online currency accounts were by far most popular method of payment, used to settle 63 percent of the sales monitored by Symantec.
A summary of Symantec's study can be found here. The full report is here.