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How to Know if Your Information is on the Dark Web

May 22, 2019 | by Gideon Ford

When people mention the dark web, it is often met with confusion. The dark web is not known to many people and few access it despite it being a large part of the internet. The “clear web” is what we normally surf and use for recreation, education, business, and more. The dark web has different usages and is a realm far removed from what the average computer user may recognize. So, what exactly is the dark web and why should you care? Why does it exist? Why is it important to know about it when your information is at risk?

Artboard 1 (2)The reason these questions matter is because it is essential to understand the problems that could occur if your information is on the dark web. But how exactly does one know?


What is the Dark Web?

The dark web is essentially the unindexed annals of the internet and was brought to life with the creation of Tor (The Onion Router) by mathematicians in 1997. Many websites are indexed and categorized through a search engine like Google and can be accessed through normal web browsers. The dark web requires special software such as Tor and different URLs to access. While the dark web is not inherently malicious, the dark web is not exactly a benign place either. Lots of criminal activity and illegal content circulates through there due to its anonymity. Naturally, having any personal information in the hands of potential identity thieves or in the den of criminals is alarming. This is why it is essential to know whether or not your information is on the dark web.


It’s More Common Than You Think

You may be familiar with data leaks over the years, they are on the news, the internet, on Facebook, and talked about around the water cooler. While they make the news, what is not mentioned is how the dark web factors into it. Much of the information from leaks and hacks can end up on the dark web. Sensitive data that has been stolen or leaked over the years have been found on the dark web waiting to be sold to criminals looking to impersonate you, your loved ones, friends, coworkers, etc. Or they could be looking to commit corporate espionage or a plethora of other problems. Having private information on the dark web is scary and dangerous because of the false sense of security many have when they are uneducated about this fact. Taking the steps to reclaim information, update security, and issuing fraud alerts are all great and important steps to be taking, but neglecting the dark web aspect of information theft can make all of those steps a moot point when someone accesses your information from a place on the internet few venture to.

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Major data leaks from Yahoo to Experian happen all the time and with phishing attacks on the rise, privacy and information security are constantly put at risk. This means that, while security does get stronger and more responsive to these leaks, they still occur and hackers are finding new and improved ways to illegally obtain information. The point of this is not to scare anyone into being paranoid, but more so to be vigilant and aware that these kinds of things do occur and to be cautious. Often people are very guarded when it comes to things like wallets, purses, jewelry, and other physical objects. When it comes to their cybersecurity, because it is not in front of them physically, it is hard for people to care as much. Because of this, many people neglect to take proactive precautions and end up being victims of this damaging crime.


Know If Your Information Has Been Leaked By Looking For It

Data theft is scary and it is even scarier to think that your personal information is being bought and sold on an area of the internet not many are familiar with. Recognizing the signs of identity theft is an important step in knowing whether or not your personal information is still roaming on the dark web. Taking the necessary precautions, changing passwords, and issuing fraud alerts are important. Even though all of these steps are taken it is best to remain proactive and vigilant on your data, especially your finances. If you notice lapses, even if they are small, and you are certain you’ve taken every step you can to prevent theft, then chances are your information may be on the dark web.

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One great way is to check your bank accounts and email accounts to see signs for unusual activity. Even after you think you’re in the clear, the first step in recognizing whether your information ended up on the dark web is to make sure that there is no more suspicious behavior being found under your name. Maintaining and monitoring your credit, your financials, etc. for 3 months after is a good guideline to follow. Using websites like haveibeenpwned.com are also great ways to see if your email addresses have been compromised in any major data leaks as well.

Remember that once information is on the dark web it can be hard to completely remove it. Most of the time this information is often multiplied hundreds of times over and disseminated across many different websites. It is hard to stop all of them but it is important to know whether or not your information is on there or not in order to take proper measures. The best thing to do in these scenarios is to coordinate with law enforcement, banks, and credit bureaus and maintain a good password strategy.

 

The Best Way to Know for Sure

The best concrete way to know for sure whether or not your information is truly on the dark web is to conduct a dark web scan. Other ways of finding out are great for guiding reasons towards suspicions but ultimately, in order to know whether or not your information is on the dark web or not is to look into the dark web itself. This is done through a scan. If you feel as though you have done every procedure available to prevent data theft and reclaim your identity only to find that you are still having issues with identity theft then that is a telltale sign that your information is on the dark web.

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Personal information on the web should not be taken lightly, just like pickpocketers and thieves, hackers are always on the lookout for personal information that they can take advantage of. Look for unusual activity on bank statements and credit scores that could give a hint if the security of your sensitive information is compromised. If so, contact a professional to shut down cards and freeze accounts that the hacker may have access to. To take it one step further, scan the dark web to know for sure if any personal information may be available to criminals. Knowledge over your precious information is key in this ever-evolving digital age, and knowing the signs of a data breach is increasingly more necessary.

 

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Categories: Data, dark web

Gideon Ford

About Gideon Ford

Gideon Ford is a Professional Services Help Desk Technician for Office1 working to solve all issues related to IT. Gideon has worked with IT for nearly a decade and is familiar with Information Systems Security, Networking, SMB and Mobile Technologies, and providing remote support for those users. He has also worked with and supported a Department of Defense Aviation Contractor providing Network and Security support. Provided Mobile device technical support for a wireless carrier and most recently was part of AppleCare’s Senior Technical support team. Gideon Received his Bachelor of Science in 2012 from Westwood College in Denver in Information Systems Security. In addition to his degree specialty, he has trained in the areas of A+, Network+, and Security+ to name a few.