There is a thriving marketplace that trades this data in shadowy corners of the internet. Corporate data breaches have occurred that leaked personal and payment information of hundreds of millions of customers of eBay, Equifax, Marriott, Yahoo and a long list of others which grows every day. That means that your details may well have been compromised through no fault of your own.
Companies can be hacked through incredibly complex plots that involve large budgets and international criminal gangs – but these breaches can also occur through human error (like a sensitive email going to the wrong person or a laptop left on a train).
Following the British Airways data breach in 2018, criminals were selling personal data for £7 per consumer on the so-called Dark Web. An American Express credit card with PIN details can be acquired for £25, but you can also acquire the log-in to a Deliveroo app account for £4 and order lots of food and alcohol and have the owner of that account foot the bill. The Dark Web is a very strange and scary marketplace.
We summarise here the simple but effective changes you should make to your accounts and devices to minimise the risk that these crimes will affect you personally. You can reinforce your security against unwelcome attempts to access your data AND protect your privacy from those who have access to some of your information (but you wish they didn’t).