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The Market for Lemons, or Thieves Discount the Value You(r Identity)
September 10, 2009 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Calculate the value of your identity on the black market, based on how you access your financial information, your involvement in social and file-sharing networks, and security software installed. Spoiler: it's less than you imagine, as using the data is riskier than stealing the data, and the thieves market is polluted by liars (you can read more in the 12 page Microsoft research PDF).

If you think you've been the victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau have lists of actions to follow. For a broader view of legal responses, wikipedia has details listed per country for a few nations (currently listing information for Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, UK and US). The Consumer Credit Reporting Agency page on Wikipedia is thinner, covering the US, UK, and India.
posted by filthy light thief (34 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Symantic adverts associate virii and identity thieves with a mixed-martial artist fighter and a 1980s metal/rock band:
Kimbo Slice vs Caterpillar: Allow | Deny
Dokken vs Chicken: Allow (PG) (PG13) | Deny
posted by filthy light thief at 1:40 PM on September 10, 2009


QUICK! FAVORITE THIS COMMENT! I'M AT 666 FAVORITES!
posted by wittgenstein at 1:41 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Value of my identity, huh? That'd be ego-boosting to figure out."
* starts entering informat -- HEYyyyy.
posted by boo_radley at 1:46 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


the thieves market is polluted by liars

This is my surprised &c.
posted by dersins at 1:47 PM on September 10, 2009


Symantec isn't trying to scare consumers with the Norton Online Risk Calculator, but to raise awareness of the risks, said Marian Merritt, Internet safety advocate at Symantec.

Riiiiight....
posted by Spaizy at 1:55 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Dokken Denial ad is truly wonderful. They're all nice. But really, you deserve 53 seconds of that.
posted by cavalier at 1:56 PM on September 10, 2009


I'm worth more than I guessed. What do I win!?!?!?!!
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:57 PM on September 10, 2009


What do I win!?!?!?!!
Less than you'd hoped :p
posted by Abiezer at 2:03 PM on September 10, 2009


Well, that is more than I bargained for.
posted by Elmore at 2:06 PM on September 10, 2009


The thieves market is polluted by liars.

This is the moral of about half the crime fiction ever written.
posted by box at 2:09 PM on September 10, 2009


...or like saying your septic tank is polluted by shit.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:20 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The commercials were kind of lame until Dokken exploded the chicken with their air-humping.
posted by brain_drain at 2:23 PM on September 10, 2009


...or like saying your septic tank is polluted by shit.

Actually, I use my septic tank to store fabrege eggs.

Also, I don't trust this for obvious reasons.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 2:28 PM on September 10, 2009


My septic tank is supposed to store shit. it's polluted by toilet paper.
posted by GuyZero at 2:31 PM on September 10, 2009


The thieves market is polluted by liars.

This is the moral of about half the crime fiction ever written.


JayZ was on Bill Maher's show the other day and he actually said coke dealers were much more honest then people in the music industry. I thought it was interesting. It makes a lot of sense, since there is no enforcement of contracts, people have to be able to rely on eachother's word in order for the industry to function, but in the music industry you can say whatever you want without a lot of repercussions.
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like the starting point of a great fiction thriller -stealing the identity of say a George Soros. Totally cool!
posted by sundance1001 at 2:47 PM on September 10, 2009


delmoi: "he actually said coke dealers were much more honest then people in the music industry"

Music industry professional a really low bar for honesty, but then again I doubt they get murdered for ripping people off half as often, so they have less incentive to be straightforward.
posted by idiopath at 2:54 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like the starting point of a great fiction thriller -stealing the identity of say a George Soros. Totally cool!

Unfortunately, the buyer of George Soros identity did none of background work for their new identity, and no one believed this George when he emailed everyone from his "primary business contacts" contact group and said he had a "mad-sick deal on raw as fuck plutoneyum, for personal nuculear generators and your crazy fleet of spy subs," but news outlets were thrilled to see the rumored private Soros Facebook profile become public, full of pictures from exclusive parties and "sum trikked out rides" that you could buy off of him "for a cool mill, or a bunch of pot, haha, jk lol."
posted by filthy light thief at 2:57 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm slightly disappointed that this wasn't a questionnaire designed to calculate the value of my self on the black market. For a second there I felt slightly smug, thinking that I'd surely fetch a decent price as a young white female who can bear children and cook and sew drapes and make sure that the towels are always white and fluffy. (Painful realization that my prospects as a bride are better than finding a job right now.)
posted by halogen at 3:07 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh. I guessed I was worth $10.00. Actual Norton calculated value. $10.80. I'm cool with that.
posted by Splunge at 3:10 PM on September 10, 2009


Eponysterical.
posted by atmosphere at 3:20 PM on September 10, 2009


halogen, the information you're looking for might be in the Trafficking in Persons Report. I'll leave it up to others to dig through those documents.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:33 PM on September 10, 2009


This is terrifying
posted by electricsandwich138 at 3:43 PM on September 10, 2009


This is ridiculous marketing dumbness. My results page says:

"In the underground economy, you're really worth about $1695. And that's on a good day. Your entire digital life could go on the auction block for as little as $31.29, whether you like it or not."

What on earth could it mean, after asking me all those questions, to say something is "really worth" $1700 in the underground economy, and then to suggest that it could be sold for $31. That's a pretty wide margin of error: The answer is X! Or, you know, X/50. Something like that though, for sure!!

It's like they can't decide - should they scare me into buying their product by saying my digital identity is valuable (and so, I suppose, desirable to steal) or because it's cheap (which I suppose is meant to make it sound like it could be more easily bought and sold). So they tried to take both strategies at once.
posted by ManInSuit at 4:04 PM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"In the underground economy, you're really worth about $1695. And that's on a good day. Your entire digital life could go on the auction block for as little as $31.29, whether you like it or not."

Mine said the same sort of thing. It may be based on the research Symantec did on the IRC asking prices (pdf, image of key table), where there's a pretty big range of prices for bank accounts ($10-$1,000), though full identities are going for $1-$15, which seems odd, though there can be more danger in using information than just getting it in the first place, as Tony Bradley noted in his PC World article: "compromising [stolen] identities and extracting the funds comes with significantly higher risk. The data thief would much rather make a quick buck for selling the data and let someone else run the risk of actually stealing the identities."
posted by filthy light thief at 4:19 PM on September 10, 2009


Seems like the cybersecurity world is polluted with thieves, too.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:01 PM on September 10, 2009


Symantec isn't trying to scare consumers with the Norton Online Risk Calculator, but to raise awareness of the risks.

"Hey, man, I'd like you to be aware of the risks here, what with me pointing this gun at you in a dark alley and all. Your raised awareness should help you make an informed decision about handing over that wallet."
posted by rokusan at 5:11 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This drives me crazy. Most identity theft and stealing of data happens when there is low-hanging fruit. So, if your banking sites and whatnot are not SSL encrypted (what?), or someone is able to get you to succumb to a phishing attack and you submit your data to them that way, or if they've managed to install some kind of virus on your poorly secured un-updated machine, then you're at risk, but just putting together a list of what online services you may use and then saying "YOU'RE AT RISK 'CAUSE YOU USE ALL THIS STUFF" is just stupid scaremongering. If you have some awareness of what is risky behavior and what isn't you're a lot better off than a lot of people.

And NO so-called complete security solution is worth shit if you don't at least educate yourself a little bit--a "two-way firewall" or whatever the hell they are talking about is kinda useless if you're doing unencrypted authentication to your (web)mail account: all the attacker needs is a sniffer on a network and they've got your email account, and from there, all the rest of your stuff, most likely...

But what's PROBABLY going to happen is that a dirtbag will skim your credit card when you go to a restaurant, some people will be digging through trash and find your data, or most likely some crap company will have bad security policies and expose all of your personal information or make it easy to exploit their systems and let black hats pull all that shit at once. That's easier and gives you a better yield, anyways.

That Norton web site is garbage for suckers.
posted by dubitable at 6:54 PM on September 10, 2009


The quiz blows. They have one piece of information, the number ~$31.29 and they've put up some cardboard questions around it.

But it's really Epic Fail when the leading Internet Security company lists the Top 10 Security Strategies and #1 on the list is: " Do not launch unfamiliar executable (.exe) files or any attachments from unknown senders." (my italics) There are plenty of viruses that hijack contact lists. In fact, an e-mail from your virus-contaminated friend is much more dangerous than the obvious wackball sender.

One other big security threat that isn't even on the list - USB keys. Some people, maybe even most people plug these in without a second thought.

To use a hockey analogy: Symantec, yer shooting pucks into the audience. Please stop doing that.
posted by storybored at 8:54 PM on September 10, 2009


the value of your identity on the black market

$20, same as in town.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:18 PM on September 10, 2009


Aye, scaremongering garbage.

I wonder if this helps, hurts,or doesn't go one-way-or-another for impressing on people about information security?

I have stupid coworkers who are all proud that they signed up for the "quick" cross-border-pass thing* between Canada and the US. They're also on stupid consumer response panels and whatnot that collect all kinds of personal information. They profess that "it's no big deal" but the kinds of information they willingly give out is more than enough for someone to impersonate them to the extent that they can screw your credit rating for the rest of your life, and at worst, frame you for crimes.

It's not about who has your information; it's about how many people have your information and how often they (or their employees and subsidiaries) "lose" your information by losing a laptop or three.

* nexus(?) pass?
posted by porpoise at 10:36 PM on September 10, 2009


In related news, the umbrella consortium predicts that a hard rain is going to fall.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:23 AM on September 11, 2009


@electricsandwich138 - I totally agree that this test/site is total bunk, but the reason why something in the "criminal underworld" might be sold for much less than it's value is risk. Just like, say, a corporate bond. You pay a certain amount to buy the debt and the difference btw what you paid and what you'll receive is made up of risk and time.

Besides, everyone knows from late-night TV that the fence always gets a deep discount.

This is obviously much more extreme... and stupid.
posted by Spaizy at 6:31 AM on September 11, 2009


Wow, I'm worth $645. I would have sold myself for much less than that without Norton's help.

But, yeah, that quiz is even more flawed than Norton's security products.
posted by dg at 5:46 AM on September 12, 2009


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