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Billions Of Pieces Of Personal Data For Sale On The Deep Web

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- They're an innocent family under cyber attack -- threatening phone calls in the middle of the night -- bank account, social security and credit cards stolen -- even the SWAT team surrounding their house.

"I'm out here in the middle of the street with handcuffs on in the middle of the night," Mark Bishop said.

he was completely dismayed.

"Yeah," Bishop said, "as to why it was even going on."

But bizarre as the Bishop family's experience sounds -- these kinds of attacks are no longer rare.

"I think it's common and becoming more common, because you're taking a massive amount of stolen data, that unfortunately this couple's data was in with that, with a massive amount of malicious, bad actors," James Tormasi with Tiversa said.

KDKA's Andy Sheehan got a look at stolen personal data in real time at the cyber security firm Tiversa -- a treasure trove for criminal hackers, identity thieves, even terrorist organizations.

"Name, date of birth, social security number, address, phone number, kids' name," Tormasi said. "All of that is bundled up, sold and traded in the deep internet."

It's called the deep web -- or the dark web. Billions of bits of personal information stolen and batched by brokers who offer a cyber supermarket for their fellow thieves. Here they offer a search menu for stolen credit cards.

"If you wanted a Visa card or a gold platinum card, if you wanted one that comes from Allegheny County or Ohio or Pittsburgh, or something like that, you can be that specific here," Tormasi said.

It's basically just like buying on Amazon.

"It's just that easy," Tormasi said.

It's all for sale: fake passports, tax returns and even weapons and child pornography. And the cyber crooks are always a step ahead of law enforcement.

"It's like playing Whack-A-Mole," Tormasi said. "The FBI is really good at what they do, but they're really focused on the big fish. They'll take a big fish down and a few more fish will pop up."

But Tiversa says there are effective ways to protect yourself and your information. These methods include changing passwords frequently, closely monitoring all of your credit card and bank accounts and they advise having an ID theft service which will scour the deep web to see if any of your info appears there.

"Stuff works, just stay on top of it," Tormasi said. "Stay very vigilant, protect yourself, wrap yourself up in a security blanket."

At the Bishops' they've done all those things and gone a step further: they've canceled their internet and unplugged their computer, but even that hasn't returned their peace of mind.

"First thing I think of when I wake up in the morning," Maryann Bishop said. "Last thing I think about when I go to bed."

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