In recent years, stolen social media accounts have become a hot commodity on the dark web. Cybercriminals are increasingly hacking into people’s profiles on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Then they sell this data to other hackers on shadowy black market exchanges.
A 2023 study by cybersecurity firm Whizcase shed light on the alarming value of your social media profiles to criminals operating on the dark web. While the dark web itself is not illegal, it contains covert marketplaces where personal information is illegally bought and sold.
By scouring numerous dark web sites, Whizcase found the average pricing for hacked accounts on major social networks:
- LinkedIn – $45 per account
- Facebook – $14 per account
- Instagram – $12 per account
- Discord – $12 per account
- Snapchat – $11 per account
- Twitter – $10 per account
- Pinterest – $9 per account
- TikTok – $8 per account
- Reddit – $6 per account
LinkedIn profiles command the highest prices due to the sensitive professional information they contain. A LinkedIn account provides access to a person’s job title, employer, work history, skills, and business contacts. This is invaluable data for cybercriminals to leverage in social engineering and corporate hacking schemes.
Facebook accounts rank second in value due to the expansive personal connections and intimate life details many users share. Instagram follows closely behind thanks to the photo and location data it provides. Discord, Snapchat and Twitter offer insight into communications and social circles.
Reddit accounts are the least valuable on the dark web market, averaging just $6 each. These profiles tend to be more anonymous and rarely connect to a person’s real identity or other accounts.
While $6 to $45 may seem inexpensive, the profits add up for hackers given the sheer scale of social media hacking. A single data breach incident can expose millions of user accounts. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 2,474 publicly reported data breaches in 2022. Many more breaches go unreported.
With so many social media profiles up for grabs, what can you do to avoid becoming a victim? Follow these tips to better secure your accounts:
- Limit sharing of personal details online. The more info your profiles contain, the more hackers will pay for them. Think twice before posting private data publicly.
- Create unique, complex passwords for each account. Avoid reusing passwords across multiple sites. Enable two-factor authentication when available.
- Routinely check your accounts for unauthorized access and monitor your credit for signs of identity theft. Many antivirus tools now provide dark web monitoring to alert you if your info surfaces.
- If you receive notice of a breach, immediately change passwords and report unauthorized charges or activity to affected institutions. Freeze credit if necessary.
Staying safe online requires vigilance as cybercriminals find new ways to profit off personal data. But following security best practices makes it harder for hackers to monetize your digital identity. Be selective in what you share publicly and proactively monitor your online presence. Your social media accounts may be worth more than you ever imagined to someone on the dark web.