In the digital age, personal information has become currency. Credit card details, login credentials, social security numbers… they’re all for sale in a shady marketplace that can’t be found on the standard world wide web that you’re used to browsing.
Beneath the .coms and .net addresses we’ve come to use daily is a “Dark Web” with pages that end with .onion instead and are designed to be difficult to find. This alternate internet is where cybercriminals can find all types of illicit items for sale at surprisingly low prices.
When personal information is breached, either through a single computer or a corporation’s entire database, often where that stolen information shows up is on the Dark Web.
Preventing data breaches and keeping our clients safe online is one of our key priorities at Unity IT. We offer flexible cybersecurity solutions through managed IT services, hourly IT services and IT consulting for Fresno businesses.
So, what exactly is the Dark Web and how do you know if your information is for sale there?
We’ll start with an overview of what this alternate internet is and then go into options you have to see if your data may be on sale there.
What is the Dark Web?
There is a certain part of the internet that consists of sites that aren’t indexed by search engines. This is called the “Deep Web” and it’s larger than you might think. The Dark Web is a small sub-section of the Deep Web, which exists on what’s known as darknets. These darknets require the use of specific software and configurations to see the websites hosted there.
The Dark Web hosts webpages just like the standard internet, or “surface web”, however you can’t get to them in normal browsers and their URLs are often designed to be very difficult to remember.
The surface web only makes up about 10% of the entire internet, the rest is the Deep Web.
The most popular tool used to browse the Dark Web is Tor, but there are also others like Freenet and Riffle. The sites use the .onion domain suffix and traffic is anonymized by use of “onion routing.”
What Types of Things Are for Sale on the Dark Web?
The Dark Web hosts something of an Amazon for criminals, with all types of illegal and malicious items up for sale. Here are some examples of what you can find there.
- Email & website hacking services
- Personal payment data
- Stealing from an ATM
- Ransomware & malware infections
- Custom hacking services
- Personal data used for identity theft
- Stolen login credentials
How to See if Your Data’s on the Dark Web
Unfortunately, you can have solid security on your own devices, but if you shop at a retailer and pay by debit or credit card, your personal data can be breached. Pay taxes to your state? Those records can be breached too, just ask South Carolinians!
2018 was a big year for data breaches at retailers with popular names like Macy’s, Delta, and Best Buy being impacted by data breaches compromising customer data.
So, what can you do to see if your data is up for sale on the Dark Web? Here are a few tips.
Don’t Go Searching Yourself!
While you might want to try surfing the Dark Web yourself, it’s very dangerous. You could easily end up with a serious virus or malware infection, plus, unless you know the exact URLs of all the thousands of different Dark Web marketplaces to visit, you’ll most likely end up not learning anything and just putting your computer or mobile device at risk.
Dark Web Scanning Service
One way to at least get a little information safely about whether or not your data is for sale is to use a reputable Dark Web scanning service. For example, Experian offers to scan “over 600,000 web pages” for your SSN, email, and phone number on the Dark Web using their free Triple Scan. Of course, if you want them to look for more of your data, it will cost you.
One caveat when using a free Dark Web scanning service is that they can only scan a small section of the vast entity known as the Dark Web, so there’s no guarantees. However, for many people searching even a portion of the sites to see if your data is there, is better than nothing.
Sign Up for Identity Theft Monitoring
Another way to stay ahead of the cybercriminals is to sign up for ongoing monitoring for identity theft. This type of service often includes things like:
- Alerts when your data is used
- Dark Web surveillance
- Credit monitoring
- Help with fraud resolution
While it may be difficult for any service to scan the entire Dark Web for your data, knowing immediately when your data is used to apply for a loan or make a large credit card purchase can help you catch identity theft right away and keep yourself from suffering financial and credit damage for years to come.
Need Help with Data Breach Protection?
There are few things worse for a business than having to tell their customers that their personal information has been stolen due to a data breach. Ensure your network and devices are protected by calling Unity IT for a security assessment.
Book a complimentary assessment online today or call us at 559-297-1007.