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There’s a lot of stolen data, both personal and corporate, for sale on the Dark Web. A portion of the information for sale is guaranteed access to secured corporate networks, and Atlas VPN is reporting that 45% of those sales are less than $1,000, making access to a secured network potentially cheaper than buying the malware tools used to further exploit the compromised network.

Atlas VPN drew its data from Positive Technologies, and concludes that the cybercrime world was flooded with new aspiring hackers during the pandemic “trying to earn a quick buck off people and organizations that did not establish a reliable security system.”

SEE: Security incident response policy (TechRepublic Premium)

In 2017, Atlas VPN notes, only 15% of initial access sales were priced less than $1,000. “Between Q2 2020 and Q1 2021, the rate has risen to what it is now,” Atlas VPN said.

Several factors go into determining the price: “The number of computers to be exposed, account privileges, business size, revenue and other financial indicators. Also, the price of access could be impacted by the industry in which the company is operating,” Atlas VPN said.

Plenty of sales still break the $1K mark, though: 22% are priced between $1,000 and $2,499, 17% from $2,500 to $4,999, 9% from $5,000 to $9,999 and the remaining 7% were over $10K.

Network access to companies in the services industry were the most commonly found, accounting for 17%, which Atlas VPN attributes to the high volume of sensitive customer info found in those company’s systems. Manufacturing was the second most common with 14%. Followed by the research and education sector at 12%, and IT at 7%. The remaining 26% is composed of companies in other industries.

“Low-priced access is usually sold by inexperienced, wannabe hackers who might not even follow through with the attack. Despite that, the rising percentage of cheap access means that many new, less-skilled cybercriminals entered the market, and they could become more dangerous in the future,” Atlas VPN said.

SEE: How to manage passwords: Best practices and security tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For businesses concerned about their data or access to their networks being sold on the Dark Web, monitoring tools are available that alert subscribers in real-time to data found for sale, which can help companies respond immediately to potential breaches.

In addition, practicing good cybersecurity habits and taking steps to generally protect your organization are an essential part of defending against data breaches on the Dark Web and other types of attacks.