People can find out a lot of information about you online, thanks to social media and our extensive digital lives. This can be a good thing, creating a connected world and new opportunities for everything from work to personal connections.
At the same time, there are risks, including the potential for your personal information to find its way to the dark web.
You likely have heard of the dark web, and you might realize that there’s the potential that your personal information could already be there, but what does that really mean? What are the implications?
What is the Dark Web?
The dark web is considered a subset of the internet not visible to search engines. To access it, an anonymized browser called Tor has to be used.
The dark web is a major source of criminal activity, and people can go there and buy drugs, guns, hacked account information, credit card numbers, and login credentials. Not everything is illegal on the dark web, but most things are.
The dark web isn’t the same as the deep web. The deep web is anything online, not indexed, and therefore not accessible through a search on a platform like Google. Deep web content includes anything that requires sign-in credentials or is behind a paywall. The deep web can also include any content owners who block web crawlers from being able to index. The dark web is a subcategory of the deep web, which is intentionally hidden.
How Personal Information Ends Up on the Dark Web
There are different ways that someone’s personal information could be found on the dark web, but in all cases, it means that someone took your information without your permission.
Online criminals can steal information in various ways. They might hack accounts or use malware, allowing them to capture passwords. Other criminals might try to collect information through SIM swaps or phishing scams.
There are even traditional ways that thieves can get information, like going through the trash to find documents with personal data.
How Do You know If Your Info Is On the Dark Web?
You want to protect your personal information, which is why it’s important to run a background check on yourself on a regular basis to see what comes up. You also want to use a monitoring tool that will protect your information. A lot of credit monitoring services will help you detect suspicious activity.
These monitoring tools will scan the dark web, including unsafe sites, illegal digital marketplaces, and hacking forums. They’ll alert you if your Social Security number or email address is found, prompting you to take action.
What To Do If Your Information Is On the Dark Web
If you do receive an alert that your information is on the dark web, the first thing you should do is change all of your passwords. You want to make sure that no one can use the stolen login information to access accounts. The simplest way to tackle this is to change passwords associated with accounts that are on the dark web.
If you use the same or similar passwords for multiple accounts, change them all.
Create strong passwords that can’t be guessed or hacked easily. If this seems overwhelming to remember, you can use a password manager to create complex passwords that are very difficult to hack.
You should also add multifactor authentication (MFA) to your accounts whenever it’s an option. MFA is when you have an account that requires you to use two or more authentication methods to verify your identity. If you log into your bank account and you have to enter a code that’s sent to your phone, that’s an example of MFA. You’re verifying you have control of the phone that’s associated with the account.
Adding MFA can help secure your account even if your information is on the dark web. Some accounts require you use MFA, while others make it optional.
You can report that your information is being shared online or stolen by the Federal Trade Commission by visiting IdentityTheft.gov. Then, you’ll get a plan that will tell you the next steps you should take depending on what information was stolen. It’s important to report it because there are a wide variety of ways criminals can use your personal information. They might even be able to make a driver’s license or medical insurance card using your information.
Finally, you might want to temporarily freeze your credit. This will prevent someone else from opening up an account in your name, and you can do this while you’re changing passwords or taking any other necessary steps.
Article by Born Realist