In the good old days of cybercrime, all the average Internet user had to worry about was having his or her personally identifiable financial or biographical information fall into the wrong hands. Now, though, the game has become so much more complex.
According to a new report from McAfee Labs, the hottest new commodity on the Web’s version of the black market is access to online streaming entertainment services like Netflix and HBO GO. In fact, some cloak-and-dagger marketplaces have information for sale that boasts “lifetime” access to sites for a little as $0.50 per transaction. Subscriptions to niche sites, like professional sports streaming services, can run the unconscionable fee of $15.
Raj Samani, vice president and CTO at Intel Security, told Tech Insider that he went searching for the illicit information mentioned by the McAfee Labs report and was surprised by what he was able to find.
“We found pretty much everything possible available for sale,” Samani told Tech Insider. “Every possible service and every possible flavor you could think of was being made for sale.”
Samani even detailed the existence of help desk-like services on marketplaces selling illicit Netflix and HBO GO subscriptions. According to him, these features make the process of buying stolen information as seamless for the consumer as possible — proving that the world of computer hacking has picked up at least a few lessons from their more legitimate retail counterparts.
“I don’t want to call it a risk-free transaction, but they try to make it as risk-free as they possibly can,” Samani said.
The McAfee Labs report noted that for hackers to be advertising lifetime access, some combination of both native site information and individual-specific credit card information is necessary to prolong subscriptions, so customers should keep a watchful eye on their credit card statements over several cycles to make sure they’re not bankrolling someone across the world’s digital binge-watching habits.