The dark web accounts for almost 50% of the internet, with fraudulent and counterfeit items accounting for 17% of the dark web marketplace.
It can be worrisome to learn these statistics, especially as most of us have tons of information floating around online. However, running away from it won’t change anything.
Instead, learning about the dark web can help you take control.
Conducting a dark web scan is one of the most efficient ways to do so, but it’s not something you can do by yourself. You’ll need to hire a company’s web scanning services to get this done.
To learn all about the dark web and what it means for you and your personal information, continue reading below.
The Dark Web Explained
The dark web is a network of websites that use special encryption to hide their location.
Because of this, you cannot access the dark web like you can the regular web. Google will not lead you to the dark web, and you won’t be able to change what is on it.
A significant part of the dark web is dedicated to buying and selling stolen information, usually financial and personal. This includes things like addresses, credit card numbers, and passwords.
When a company has a data breach, someone on the dark web might be able to access its information and sell it. If you have personal information tied to this company, they could also access your information and steal your identity.
When this occurs, they may run up charges on your credit card, open new accounts with your Social Security card, or even take money out of your bank account.
While you won’t be able to change the fact that your personal information is now on the dark web, knowing this information can allow you to start taking steps to secure your identity once more. It’s better to know, after all.
How Your Information Can Become Vulnerable
Hacking is the main way that your information can become vulnerable and put on the dark web.
Hackers are constantly on the lookout for credit card and Social Security numbers. All they have to do is be tricky enough for you to click one link, and they’ve got all the access they need.
Not all hackers work by trying to hack into large companies. Most focus on targeting individuals instead.
If you open up a phishing email, they’ve got all the personal information they’re after. What may seem like a harmless email could actually be a deceptive maneuver to steal your identity.
You can also see this in the form of spam texts and robot calls. If you get texts from numbers you don’t recognize, and there’s a link in them, there’s a good chance this is fraud.
Many of these spammers pose as phone companies or electric and gas companies, asking for you to submit your payment before they shut off your service. When in doubt, hang up, and don’t click any suspicious links.
How a Dark Web Scan Works
While you don’t have the ability to access and scour the dark web for your information, IT support service companies have created dark web scanning services that can do that for you.
The process will begin by looking for all different types of your personal information, including:
- Log-in information for subscription services and financial services
- Debit card and credit card numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Fake diplomas
- Medical records
If anything is found, you will be notified immediately, so you can take the steps to keep your money and other important information safe.
It’s important to note, however, that no dark web scan service can scan through the entire dark web. It can only find when your data was exposed, such as in public company data breaches, but not all of your data will be exposed in these breaches.
If there are other copies of your data, such as paper copies, you’ll never get notified of that.
Participating in Dark Web Monitoring
The best way to stay on top of the dark web is by investing in monitoring services.
Instead of waiting for your data to get breached, you can continuously monitor your information so you’ll always know your identity is safe.
If something does appear on the dark web, the best IT support company will alert you right away instead of finding out days or weeks later after serious damage ensued.
What to Do if Your Personal Information Becomes Compromised
Personal information getting leaked shows the utter importance of doing a dark web scan.
Your information becoming compromised is never ideal, but scanning the dark web can let you know exactly what got leaked, so you know what you have to take care of.
Change All of Your Passwords
Whenever any of your information gets breached, it’s wise to change your passwords. All of them. This can be a hassle, but it’s necessary if you don’t want to continue to get hacked.
Start by changing the passwords you use the most and branch off from there.
For your new passwords, it’s wise to think of something extremely complex, using a combination of numbers and special characters. The longer the better.
Write your new password in a notebook instead of on your computer or smartphone to keep it safe from any potential hackers.
If possible, use a different password or a variation of your passwords for each account. The harder you make it to access your information, the safer you will be.
This will take diligence though, as most people don’t want to have to remember 50 different passwords or write them down in a notebook.
Notify Your Bank
Next, if any of your financial information got compromised, you should contact your financial institutions. This includes your credit card companies and banks.
They will be able to freeze your accounts so nothing else can happen to them, and they may be able to work with you if you’ve lost money due to your stolen identity.
You may have to cancel your accounts altogether and reopen new ones, depending on how badly your information got hacked.
It’s very important to follow the instructions of your financial institutions, even if you don’t want to have to go through the entire process of closing and opening accounts. The more detail-oriented you are when protecting your information, the better chance you’ll have of keeping it safe.
Look at Your Statements
If you did a dark web scan and it reveals that some of your credit card information was stolen, you’ll want to monitor your statements closely from the past few months and going forward.
Look for any fraudulent activity, such as purchases that you clearly did not make, or purchases made in another country.
If you find something suspicious, make sure to report it immediately, or you may not have a chance of seeing that money back. Regardless, always cancel those credit cards and get new ones if there is anything fishy on your account.
Monitor Your Credit Report
Because your Social Security number may have been compromised, you’ll also need to diligently monitor your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
Look for any new credit card accounts or loans that might pop up that aren’t really yours. You can monitor your credit report monthly for free using various services, such as creditkarma.com, or with other IT support services.
If you do notice any fraudulent accounts, notify the company that issued the loan or credit card, and file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission.
Freeze Your Credit
Freezing your credit shouldn’t be done lightly, but it’s a great way to know that no one else can open up any more accounts in your name. This is free to do but must get done with all three of the credit bureaus for it to be effective.
To do so, you can call each credit bureau directly, or go online to fill out a form to start the process.
Conducting a Dark Web Scan Is a Necessity
If you aren’t already monitoring the dark web, now is the time to start. Hiring a company to do a dark web scan is one of the most responsible decisions you can make.
If you get that terrifying message that your information has been compromised, don’t panic. Instead, follow the steps in this guide to get everything back under control.
The only way you’ll ever know your information is safe is by being proactive, so don’t wait much longer to do so.
Once everything is secured, browse our website for more lifestyle articles.