While the internet is a useful resource, it is not without risks. So much information is stored online, acting as a tempting target for criminals. When a company or website undergoes a data breach, customers and users are susceptible to having their information stolen. Once your information is taken by online hackers it may end up on the dark web, where other criminals can then use your personal information for their own financial gain.
The dark web is an intricately encrypted network. Websites on the dark web cannot be found through a basic online search. To access the dark web, criminals must possess a special form of software, which means it is challenging to find whether your information is being sold.
Personal information, such as the username and password for your bank account, can be stolen during a major data breach and may be sold from one dark web user to another. If this occurs, there are steps you can take to determine if you were made vulnerable during the attack and steps you can take to prevent this issue from arising in the future.
How do you know if your information is on the dark web?
Determining whether your information has been placed on the dark web was virtually impossible in the past, but there are two separate avenues you can now pursue to find out if your personal information has been compromised. Experian, one of the leading credit reporting companies, provides users with the ability to check if their information has been leaked onto the dark web. This service is free of charge and is available directly through the Experian website. All you need to do is input your email address into the dark web scan provided by Experian. However, doing so through this medium may prove frustrating for some users. Experian requests permission to send you emails about other services and requires you to sign a lengthy contract to move forward with your search of the dark web. While some users still find this to be a useful option, it may be more trouble than it is worth.
The company known as “Have I Been Pwned?” provides people with a much more user-friendly option when trying to determine whether personal information has been put on the dark web. The company provides people with a list of companies that have recently suffered data breaches, so you can see if any of the stores or websites you have recently visited have become victim to a data breach. You can choose to search for your personal information directly in lieu of browsing the companies with known data breaches. To search for yourself through the “Have I Been Pwned?” search engine, all you need to do is plug in your email address and see what crops up. This service is free for everyone and the company does not request permission to send you other services or offers. When you enter your email address, you are told whether your email has been hacked and, if so, where it was hacked and through what company.
How do you protect yourself dark web predators?
Once your information is shared on the dark web, it can be shared an infinite number of times with any and every user who chooses to access your file. As soon as your personal information hits the dark web, criminals copy this data and repeatedly share and move your information across various platforms. This means there is no discernible way of retrieving your information once this data has been made available on the dark web. To protect yourself and your financial assets, consider canceling your existing credit cards and request replacement cards from your credit provider. This provides a small layer of damage control and helps prevent the situation from spiraling out of control even further.
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The best thing you can do to protect yourself from dark web predators, either before a data breach or after one, is to the change the username and password for your personal accounts.
This includes your bank accounts and credit accounts, as well as your email and other areas where you may have shared personal information with others. Ensure you are creating different passwords for each individual login and do not select passwords similar in nature. Attempt to pick entirely unique passwords for each login and keep track of these passwords somewhere safe. You can choose to utilize two-factor authentication tools for your most essential accounts for an added layer of security. This can include providing security questions and answers for your bank and credit accounts only you know the answer to.
How is the dark web monitored?
The FBI and several intelligence agencies consistently monitor the dark web, but it is sometimes difficult to maintain a consistent watch on every corner of the dark web. The criminals who have designed this platform have done so in a way to make it easy to move and adapt the access sites, which makes it nearly impossible to trace after a change has occurred. Private organizations assist the FBI by providing consultants and specialists who can help track the dark web, but the process of doing so successfully is ongoing. Many banks have specialists who study and track the dark web as well to ensure the security of their patrons.
There are certain aspects of the dark web occurring entirely offline through dial-up bulletin board style sites, which are more difficult to monitor than those placed directly onto the internet. As of writing, the FBI is working to develop better methods of monitoring this activity, though it is best for you to take preventative measures to ensure your information does not wind up in the wrong hands. You can check with the “Have I Been Pwned?” tool on a regular basis to see if your information has been leaked as a secondary line of defense alongside protections provided by the FBI. Monitoring your personal information, user names and passwords can help you prevent a cyber-attack from breaching your own devices as well.
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By Alfred Wickham –