Monday, December 4, 2023

How to Identify Who is Using My Information on the Dark Web

Scammers sell and buy personal information on the dark web, a network of websites that uses special software. This hides a user’s details, like their location, and encryptsall browsing activity. Services like Check People search the dark web and inform users if they detect their information. Dark web monitoring is actuallywell-established by now. It looks for sites where identity thieves and other criminals sell and trade information.

A Haven for Criminals

The dark web has become a criminal’s haven because it can be traversed in complete anonymity. Financial data is commonly bought and sold. Sadly, the responsibility of identifying who is or may be using their information rests entirely on the individual.

The Facts

According to experts, completely avoiding risk is almost impossible. In 2018, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported 1,244 data breaches. Considering how prevalent data compromise has become, the probability of your data being on the dark web is quite high according to the ITRC. This is hardly surprising considering that data salescan yield up to $100for credit or debit card information. Still, that’s nothing compared to how much criminals can get for medical records and passports – more than $1,000 per record or passport.

You’re not alone in your struggle. Credit card issuers and banks are including dark web monitoring in their services to combat fraud. With the help of search services, it’s easy to find out if your information is on the dark web. However, the real problem starts after you do. Not all of these services can remove your data from it or prevent it from being used for that matter. This is not common knowledge: more than a third of respondents in a Consumer Federation of America survey thought search services would do these things for them.

Data that has appeared on the dark webis sold multiple times. There is little you can do to stop it from spreading. Cyberthieves can repackage old information and resell it even if it was stolen years ago. The spectrum of agents who are active on the dark web is quite large, from organized criminal operations, states, and nations to lone-wolf hackers and hacktivists. They all yearn for personal data.

Prevention is the Best Protection

Considering how fast data is transmitted, the fact that it is good for years, sometimes decades, is hardly surprising. Unlike goods, data does not involve shipping time, and handling happens at the speed of light. People buy it, get it at once, and cash it out. Information like your address, your name, your Social Security number, and your driver’s license number can be used for many, many years. It is quite hard to salvage. Thankfully, this doesn’t apply to credit card theft. If your card is stolen and someone uses it, you are alerted by your issuer and given a new number. It’s merely an annoyance to you.

How do People Use the Dark Web?

On the traditional web, we have domains like .com, .gov, .org, .net, and so on. The domains on the dark web are “.onion.”You can’t use a standard browser to access dark web sites. One browser people use is Tor, short for The Onion Router. It is encrypted on many levels, analogical to the many layers of an onion. This ensures the full anonymity of all users.

Dark web technology was created by the U.S. military, who is behind the traditional internet as well. It was meant to serve the purpose of sending and receiving messages while maintaining anonymity. Even today, many legitimate organizations and companies use the dark web. News organizations use it to distribute information. Reports resort to it to protect their sources’ identities.

How did My Data end up on the Dark Web?

There are several ways in which criminals steal information. Some try to collect data through SIM swaps and phishing scams. Others attempt to use malware to get passwords or hack into accounts. Many scammers have advanced technical knowledge and skills, but not all. There are still people out there who dig through the trash to look for discarded ID documents.

There are services and monitoring toolsthat can help you find out if your personal data is on the dark web. Some of them are free. They will scan hundreds, even thousands of illegal digital marketplaces,hacking forums, and unsafe sites. If the service of your choice finds your email address, name, or other information, you’ll get an alert. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to identify who is using this information just because it has been resold multiple times already. 

By notifying you of a possible data breach, dark web monitoring services help you become aware and act. If you find out an account number or your email address is on the dark web, you can change your account or email password to make it more complex and unique. 


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