Hack-ception: Benign Hacker Rescues 26M Stolen Credit Card Records

Tips & Advice

There’s something ironic about cybercriminals getting “hacked back.” BriansClub, one of the largest underground stores for buying stolen credit card data, has itself been hacked. According to researcher Brian Krebs, the data stolen from BriansClub encompasses more than 26 million credit and debit card records taken from hacked online and brick-and-mortar retailers over the past four years, including almost eight million records uploaded to the shop in 2019 alone.

Most of the records offered up for sale on BriansClub are “dumps.” Dumps are strings of ones and zeros that can be used by cybercriminals to purchase valuables like electronics, gift cards, and more once the digits have been encoded onto anything with a magnetic stripe the size of a credit card. According to Krebs on Security, between 2015 and 2019, BriansClub sold approximately 9.1 million stolen credit cards, resulting in $126 million in sales.

Back in September, Krebs was contacted by a source who shared a plain text file with what they claimed to be the full database of cards for sale through BriansClub. The database was reviewed by multiple people who confirmed that the same credit card records could also be found in a simplified form by searching the BriansClub website with a valid account.

So, what happens when a cybercriminal, or a well-intentioned hacker in this case, wants control over these credit card records? When these online fraud marketplaces sell a stolen credit card record, that record is completely removed from the inventory of items for sale. So, when BriansClub lost its 26 million card records to a benign hacker, they also lost an opportunity to make $500 per card sold.

What good comes from “hacking back” instances like this? Besides the stolen records being taken off the internet for other cybercriminals to exploit, the data stolen from BriansClub was shared with multiple sources who work closely with financial institutions. These institutions help identify and monitor or reissue cards that show up for sale in the cybercrime underground. And while “hacking back” helps cut off potential credit card fraud, what are some steps users can take to protect their information from being stolen in the first place? Follow these security tips to help protect your financial and personal data:

  • Review your accounts. Be sure to look over your credit card and banking statements and report any suspicious activity as soon as possible.
  • Place a fraud alert. If you suspect that your data might have been compromised, place a fraud alert on your credit. This not only ensures that any new or recent requests undergo scrutiny, but also allows you to have extra copies of your credit report so you can check for suspicious activity.
  • Consider using identity theft protection. A solution like McAfee Identify Theft Protection will help you to monitor your accounts and alert you of any suspicious activity

And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook

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