What can hackers do with personal information that includes this: First name, last name, snail mail address, mobile phone number and email address?
There are many groups that can be interested in such knowledge -
- They can try to impersonate as YOU. Identity theft is one of the most crucial things nowadays. Impersonating can lead to credential theft to some websites etc.
- Using this information to further infeltrate - maybe your e-mail password is weak?
- Spammers and Direct marketing firms are looking for that kind of knowledge, too. They can use it for spam or to sell to someone that is into it.
Information enables an attacker to get creative and to discover additional ways to achieve whatever goal they have (e.g. impersonation, theft).
There is a great intelligence tool designed to take the attributes you listed and to potentially discover more valuable information (e.g. social networking aliases, friend lists, employment, flickr account, other aliases or email addresses, etc.)
Maltego is an open source intelligence and forensics application. It is a program that can be used to determine the relationships and real world links between:
- Groups of people (social networks)
- Web sites
- Internet infrastructure
- Documents and files
Information is leverage. Information is power.
The Paterva team during training sessions talks about taking nondescript emails as the only piece of information (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) and being able to discover the real identities of the persons behind the accounts.
Information attacking is like climbing a ladder. Once an attacker has got a small handful of data items (first name, last name, email, postal address) then it's a simple job to get a birthdate. Each additional item of data (another rung on the ladder) becomes easier and easier to achieve until they have a full identity theft.
There is however economic scale to think about. Clearly, it takes effort to build up an identity, however, attackers are using the same tools and processes used by large organisations to match merge results from separate attacks and then call out the user profiles that have the most full data set - these data sets have a value and can either be sold on or directly exploited. The more data available and how up to date it is - the more value the information has to an attacker reselling this information.