Shed Light on the Dark Web with Identity Protection
No doubt you have heard of the dark web – the part of the internet where you’re not supposed to go. Movies, books and news articles tell you that the dark web is a hotbed of crime. For the majority of North Americans and Canadians, that is the extent of what most people understand about the dark web. Did you know the dark web is where stolen identity information is often sold, bought and traded? Identity theft is increasing each year and much of it can be sourced back to the dark web and data breaches. In light of this trend, it is important for you to understand dark web marketplaces, what is traded or sold on them and how dark web identity protection can help keep your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) safe from prying eyes. Let us shed some light on the dark web. The internet is essentially broken up into three separate categories: surface web, deep web and dark web. Surface web: This is the part of the internet with which you are probably most familiar. Pages that live on the surface web are indexed by search engines, such as Google and Bing, and are easily accessible. For example, when you perform a search on the health benefits of your favorite food, you are using the surface web to look up that information. Deep web: The deep web, also known as the invisible web or hidden web, is not as scary as it sounds. The name indicates that these pages are not indexed by search engines so you won’t be able to find them on Google or Bing. Online banking accounts, secure online portals for healthcare or secure academic webpages are examples of pages you can access on the deep web. The deep web is 4,000-5,000 times larger than the surface web. Dark web: The dark web can only be accessed through certain web browsers, like Tor or I2P. These browsers are designed specifically for anonymity, which is how users can perform different activities on the dark web. Whereas surface and deep web URLs end with “.com,” “.org,” etc., dark web page URLs on Tor end in “.onion” to show that they are hidden sites, unable to be accessed without a special web browser like The Onion Router (TOR). The dark web is used for many different purposes. Some people use it for legitimate entertainment, such as joining a chess club or becoming a member of BlackBook (the dark web’s version of Facebook). Others go on the dark web for privacy in countries where government eavesdropping is common, or where certain activities are banned (e.g. reading the Holy Bible). And some simply use it because they want complete privacy and do not want any of their data tracked by websites, Google, etc. However, most online illegal activity is conducted on the dark web as well – such as identity theft. People use the dark web to trade, sell and buy controlled or illegal items. Stolen identity information is often posted for sale on the dark web in numerous market places, creating the perfect haven for criminals looking to engage in dark web identity theft. The types of information most commonly sold on the dark web include usernames, passwords and Social Security numbers. If criminals have this data or other PII, they can access your online bank accounts, health records and other sensitive information. Then they can steal your money, fraudulently obtain health care services in your name and conduct other illegal activity using your identity. A stolen identity, in its digital form, can be altered or copied so quickly that it is difficult to find once it is made available on the dark web – making dark web identity monitoring difficult for the inexperienced. Nothing is 100% guaranteed to keep your personal information safe from identity theft but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be monitoring it. Early detection is key to mitigating financial loss and reducing the time to restore your identity if it is stolen. Dark web identity protection is also an early indicator of other types of identity theft, so it is one of the most critical elements of your PII to monitor. There are steps you can take to make your information harder to steal. Any precautions that you take now will help in the long run. Here are a few different ways you can try to keep your identity safe on the dark web: You can protect your personal data by keeping different passwords for each online account you manage. Password reuse is the primary source for online account takeover. Check your online accounts regularly to ensure that no suspicious business transactions have occurred without your knowledge. If you do see something fishy, call the company of that account immediately to inform them about it and to get their assistance on the next steps you should take. Dark web forums are monitored by law enforcement, FBI, intelligence agencies, banks, consultants and specialists who work for various corporations and cybersecurity companies. Still, most forums and marketplaces that handle illegal activity have restricted access or are moved often to avoid law enforcement. It is nearly impossible for an amateur to monitor his/her identity on dark web effectively without professional help. Protecting Your Personal Data on the Dark Web One company in particular is dedicated to helping monitor your personal information and identity on the dark web: IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. dba LegalShield. IDShield provides identity monitoring and aggregates that data for you from many different sources, including the dark web. A few examples of IDShield alerts include: Your username and password to your web email account has been exposed through a data breach and if those credentials have been found on the dark web. Your credit card number is being traded on dark web hacking forums. Your name and Social Security number is for sale on the dark web marketplace. If your identity is compromised in any way, IDShield can help restore it. Keeping Your Data Safe Beyond the Dark Web IDShield can also assist in protecting your identity in several other ways beyond the dark web monitoring: Continuous Credit Monitoring: IDShield provides access to continuous credit monitoring and alerts you to changes in your credit reports. Username and Password Monitoring: IDShield monitors your username and password combinations to ensure they are not exposed online and alerts you to reset your password to protect from anyone else from logging into your online accounts. Financial High-Risk Monitoring: IDShield monitors for high-risk transactions with financial institutions and other companies’ transactions to ensure no one else is using your identity to open a new bank account or make large money transfers. Public Records and Court Record Monitoring: IDShield keeps an eye on public records and court records associated with your identity in case someone else tries to use yours, instead of their own. Social Media Monitoring: IDShield makes sure your reputation and privacy are protected on your social media accounts. Identity Restoration: If your information is compromised, IDShield will work as long as it takes to restore it. What Happens if IDShield Detects Your Information on the Dark Web? You will receive alerts on the IDShield Plus mobile app and on the web portal so you can see what information was exposed. Then, you can consult with the IDShield Licensed Private Investigators to determine what actions need to be taken. If that information is specifically used to steal your identity, IDShield’s Licensed Private Investigators work hard to help you restore your identity to its pre-theft status. Many people can spend years and thousands of dollars in efforts to restore their identity once it has been stolen. With IDShield, you won’t have to worry about the financial and mental strain. And you won’t have to do it alone! You get the peace of mind knowing our investigators are working to offer best-in-class dark web identity protection. The dark web is confusing, and it is inadvisable to explore it if you don’t know what you are doing. Even if you know how to access the dark web, it is practically impossible to keep track of everything that happens on the dark web to keep track of your own data. It is unreasonable for one person to be expected to monitor all the dark web sites, forums and chat rooms where cyber criminals buy, sell and trade stolen personal information. However, when you are a member of IDShield, you don’t have to try to access the dark web and search for your own personal data. Simply set up your IDShield monitoring and let us do the work for you. Visit idshield.com to check out the details of how IDShield can scan the internet and dark web for your personal data and identity.