Just hearing “dark web” sounds sinister, and it can be. There’s a lot of information passed around on the dark web, and much of it involves criminal activity.
A lot of security firms have expanded their offerings to included cybersecurity protection for schools, businesses, and individuals because of the threats that can stem from your personal information being stolen.
For example, if you were going to hire a private investigator in NYC to determine whether you or your business had been the victim of cybercrime, they might tell you your information is on the dark web.
What should you know about the dark web, and what if you find out your information is there?
What is the Dark Web?
If you’ve heard of the dark web, you may wonder exactly what it is. It’s essentially part of the internet that isn’t visible on search engines. To access it, you have to use an anonymous Dark web browser called Tor.
The dark web is a troubling place where you can make a lot of illegal purchases and transactions. For example, you can buy credit card numbers, information from hacked Netflix accounts, and stolen credentials for subscriptions. It’s also a place where you can hire hackers that will attack computers, and you can buy various usernames and passwords.
Dark websites can look like a website you’d see anywhere else, but they end with .onion rather than something like .com. The URLs for the websites are also complex and not easy to remember. People who go to the dark web are often themselves victims of scammers, and law enforcement professionals and organizations are increasingly focusing their efforts on trying to stop the illegal activities on the dark web.
It’s not inherently illegal to visit the dark web, it’s just many of the things you might do while you’re there that are.
If you’ve ever hired a company or used a service to ensure you’re not the victim of identity theft or to monitor your private information, they may have come back to you and said your information is on the dark web, so what does that mean exactly?
What Personal Information is Sold on the Dark Web?
Pretty much anything related to your personal information and finances might be sold on the dark web, and the prices are shockingly low.
For example, according to Experian in 2017 the typical rate to purchase Social Security numbers on the dark web was only $1, and for a credit card number with the CV, the rate was $5. A bundle deal with pretty much all of your important data and information may go for as low as $30 on the dark web.
What Can You Do If You Show Up on the Dark Web?
If you’re alerted that your information is floating around the dark web, the first thing to do is change all of your passwords. Then, you can also utilize a password manager. Next, check your credit report and make sure you don’t see any unusual activity.
You may also want to go ahead and use a credit monitoring service. Many of these services will not only proactively let you know if there are any red flags to be aware of, but will also help you deal with things if you are the victim of identity theft.
If you already see something suspicious by the time you do this, you might want to freeze your credit report. This means that lenders can’t pull your credit if someone is trying to use your identity.
Do be aware, there are downsides of a credit freeze,and it should only be used if you know your identity is definitely compromised. For example, if your credit card numbers are on the dark web a freeze won’t do anything about someone using these—it’s only helpful in terms of applying for new credit.
If you do need to apply for credit or someone needs to do a credit check on you for any legitimate reason, you also have to pay to unfreeze your credit reports, and then pay to freeze them again.
To sum it all up, while finding out that your information is on the dark web can sound scary, as long as it’s not being purchased or used, it’s likely okay. The best thing to do in this situation is to make sure you’re vigilant about monitoring your credit report and any alerts you receive, as you would regardless.