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Do You Know What Dark Web Monitoring Is?

A lot of people have heard of or even visited the dark web. It is the mysterious (but often extremely risky) corner of the “clear web” internet that we all use, accessible only with a special browser. Think of the internet like an iceberg. The part above the water is what everyone accesses on a daily basis. The deep and dark webs reside below the surface and millions of internet users have not heard of this realm of the internet. The deep web is where a lot of random information resides (such as configuration documents for the inner workings of a website) while the dark web is quite self-explanatory.

However, much fewer have heard about the concept of dark web monitoring. It is an extremely effective way to safeguard your security. Keeping information about yourself from leaking on the dark web is key in this day and age, and you will find all of the information you need to address this in the link above.

You’ve probably seen quite a few articles about data leaks and breaches, or perhaps you have experienced such cyber incidents yourself (particularly if you run an online company). Have you ever wondered what happened to all that data? Well, it typically ends up on the dark corner of the internet which is the dark web. Most commonly, cybercriminals use phishing scams and ransomware to siphon data from users or organizations, later posting it on the dark web. The majority of the time, this stolen data is sold by cybercriminals and purchased for anonymous cryptocurrency by anonymous users (such is the nature of dark web transactions).

The problem with stolen information is that it can be made accessible to the general public, posing a serious risk. For instance, cybercriminals often threaten organizations that they will post data publicly if a ransom fee is not paid. 

This way of posting this information means it can be used to commit identity theft, financial fraud as well as much worse kinds of crimes. Monitoring the dark web involves looking through forums and databases to find information that has been leaked about yourself.

What is Dark Web Monitoring, Exactly?

First of all, what is the dark web? It is a network of anonymous websites with the extension “.onion” known as the “dark web” which can only be accessed with specialized browsers like the Tor browser (The Onion Router, mainly, although other browsers do exist for different platforms). 

The dark web’s military-grade anonymity (it started as a research project decades ago) makes it a good place for extremely illegal activities, like drug trafficking and illicit pornography, among others. Additionally, it is also used by hackers and cybercriminals to share and sell all sorts of information about people that they have stolen via a scam or hack.

As far as the monitoring aspect goes, dark web monitoring looks through forums and websites on the dark web for exposed data of this kind. Dark web monitoring tools can alert users to take specific action to protect their security and privacy when this type of data is discovered by the tool.

What Can Dark Web Monitoring Offer You?

Here are some of the categories of personal data that dark web monitoring tools can catch:

This list does not even cover all of the data cyber criminals can steal or expose. For instance, dark web criminals can use credit card information for nefarious purposes, or your social security number to submit false tax returns and health insurance-related queries or claims.

For this reason, it is crucial to have dark web monitoring by your side, as well as a barrage of other tools you will read about below.

Which Tools Are Required?

To fight against dark web exploits and exposures relating to you, or anyone you know, keep in mind that you will need to pay attention to your cyber-hygiene as well as employ the help of a few cybersecurity tools. This means paying attention to your password security, for one.

These tools are (in no particular order) a virtual private network (VPN), an antivirus, burner email accounts, and a password manager. Of course, you want to use the premium versions of these tools, not the free ones. Finally, you want a dark web monitoring tool like Norton Lifelock. Keep in mind that a premium VPN such as NordVPN also has some dark web monitoring abilities but this should be used as a supplement to something more comprehensive like Lifelock.

The main goal of dark web monitoring tools is to compare the user’s personal information to the information the tool can find in dark web databases. Tools for monitoring the dark web have developed greatly over the years, and there are now a lot of excellent choices, just as with all other software. Today’s top dark web monitoring tools are mostly automated, meaning that they provide interactive alerts and continuously scan the dark web for information relating to what you provide the tool.

Could You Scan the Dark Web Yourself?

Although it is technically possible, it is very impractical to make your dark web monitoring program or monitor the dark web manually. It is also not advisable for you to start digging around the dark web if you have no previous experience. It is a very, very risky place, after all.

On the dark web, there are thousands of places where people can buy or sell their personal information and many of these are obfuscated or do not appear even in dark web search engines. For this reason, you should continue using one of the current dark web monitoring programs such as Norton Lifelock.

However, what you can do is use a well-known dark web monitoring portal that you can access right now. It is called “Have I Been Pwned.” Simply type in the name of the portal in an online search and check out the website.

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