Thursday, July 07, 2005

Your personal information is for sale - Russian edition

There's a fascinating story in the Globe and Mail about the sale of personal data in Moscow. Excerpt:
"What do you need?" he says. "We have everything."

In Moscow these days, among people who deal in stolen information, the category of everything is surprisingly broad.

This Gorbushka vendor offers a hard drive with cash transfer records from Russia's central bank for $1,500 (Canadian). The information was reportedly stolen by hackers earlier this year and purchased by companies looking for details about their competitors. Such information, the vendor admits, is fairly specialized. A more popular item is tax records, including home addresses and declared incomes. The vendor asks $215.

Russians routinely lie about their earnings to avoid taxes; nonetheless, an increasing number of criminals are relying on pirated tax information to help them choose wealthy targets.

When gunmen broke into the gated home of Mikhail Pogosyan, head of Russian aerospace giant Sukhoi, in a brazen robbery last week, the businessman immediately blamed the proliferation of his personal details on the black market.

"Before, robberies of such people happened very seldom, just by chance," says a Sukhoi spokesman, Alexei Poveschenko. "Criminals preferred not to deal with VIPs, but now it's different. On every corner you can buy a database with all kinds of information: income, telephones, cars, residence registration."


At the Gorbushka kiosk, sales are so brisk that the vendor excuses himself to help other customers while the foreigner considers his options: $43 for a mobile phone company's list of subscribers? Or $100 for a database of vehicles registered in the Moscow region?

The vehicle database proves irresistible. It appears to contain names, birthdays, passport numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, descriptions of vehicles, and vehicle identification (VIN) numbers for every driver in Moscow.
via Semantic Bits

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