March-28Online criminals are now breaking into people’s Twitter accounts before they try to hack their credit card information, a new report from online security expert Michael Callahan claims.

Callahan, who works for Juniper Networks, notes that some Twitter accounts can be worth significantly more than a person’s credit card number, as they reveal personal information that can be used to access email accounts, online banking panels, and an assortment of other personal online assets.

Access details for Twitter accounts are sold online to fraudsters, who frequently use them to steal from online wallets and hijack personal accounts. While the number of a user’s credit card is worth $20 to $40 on most online forums when “fresh”, Twitter accounts with large amounts of personal data can fetch as much as of $325.

The value of a Twitter account varies based on the amount of information it can give hackers about a person’s online identity. Since many people use the same password to access social networks and email accounts, hacked Twitter credentials can often be used to access hundreds of different websites using a stolen identity.

Inexpensive Twitter accounts are sold for approximately $16 on many online hacker forums, attracting interest from fraudsters who use online identities to defraud web applications and extract personal information. Valuable Twitter accounts sell for as much as $325 if they’re seen as worth targeting by cyber criminals.

Hackers often “brute force” other applications using the login credentials taken from stolen Twitter accounts in order to access online banking, e-commerce and a range of other accounts. Analysts believe that other social networks, such as Facebook, will soon also be targeted by hackers as credit card security improves.

With many credit cards now automatically blocking suspicious transactions, hackers are increasingly targeting less secure online payment platforms and accounts to find user data. Most of this data is sold to black market firms that rack up huge charges on victims’ accounts.

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