Hackers have targeted personal information and financial data for a long time because they are easy to sell. Health care data has become a big attraction for data thieves in recent years. In some cases, the motivation is extortion.
Buyers of stolen data use it in several ways. Credit card numbers and security codes can be used to create clone cards for making fraudulent transactions. Social Security numbers, home addresses, full names, dates of birth and other personally identifiable information can be used in identity theft. For example, the buyer can apply for loans or credit cards under the victim’s name and file fraudulent tax returns.
Sometimes stolen personal information is purchased by marketing firms or companies that specialize in spam campaigns. Buyers can also use stolen emails in phishing and other social engineering attacks and to distribute malware. Stolen data can also be used to forge documents.