Dark Web Monitoring: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Dark Web Monitoring: What Is It and How Does It Work?

The dark web is a part of the internet that provides anonymous and secure communication channels. It’s home to several illicit activities, including drug trafficking, illegal weapon sales, and trafficking stolen personal information (like passwords and social security numbers).

This information is often used in identity theft and other impactful cybercrimes. In 2019, consumers lost about $1.9 billion to fraud, with around 600,000 identity theft cases reported. According to the same report, identity theft reports encompassed around 20% of all reported fraud for the same year, up from 14% in 2019.

The internet itself is much like an ocean. On the top, you have the surface waves, or the internet that you and I use on a daily basis. The “surface” contains millions of websites, including most of the sites you use. Under the surface, the dark web exists as a more secretive and secure location. Only users with the right credentials can access databases here. Go deeper still, and you’ll find yourself completely devoid of light in the dark web.

How is the Dark Web Accessed?

The dark web can only be accessed with a special internet browser called Tor, and it contains all manner of nefarious websites, services, and sellers. Tor provides an encrypted connection to the dark web and masks the user’s IP address.

Criminals thrive on the dark web because of its complete anonymity. Buying and selling via cryptocurrency and a hidden IP address makes dark web activity difficult to track and pinpoint to one person or organization.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what dark web monitoring is and why you need it. Protecting sensitive information has never been more important, and with cybercrime on the rise, it’s time to take further precautions.

What is On The Dark Web?

First, let’s examine the items that cybercriminals usually sell on the dark web. These personal items can bring in a hefty profit and leave the average person feeling helpless to regain their personal information and financial resources.

Social Security Numbers: Social Security Numbers are some of the most common personal items found on the dark web. Using a person’s social security number and other information, cybercriminals can steal a person’s identity and open lines of credit, financing, and more in that person’s name.

Email Addresses: Email accounts can often contain sensitive personal information and are usually easier to hack than bank or financial accounts. A dark web email scan can determine if your address is floating around the dark web.

Passport Number: A passport can often be a backup ID in case you’ve lost or had your driver’s license, Social Security card, or other personal ID stolen. Cybercriminals will use a passport number to add validity to their stolen identity.

Medical Records: Your medical information is private under HIPAA, but cybercriminals can steal it if it ends up on the dark web.

Bank Account Numbers: This is one of the most common items stolen and then recirculated on the dark web. Once a cybercriminal has your account number, they can easily access accounts and steal money right out from under you.

Credit/Debit Card Numbers: This is another common item found on the dark web. These are much easier to acquire, as some browsers even store your credit card information for you. A simple browser breach can reveal more than you think!

Retail/Membership Cards: If you have a membership to your favorite store, a rewards account, or even a store credit card, the dark web can use this information against you. These accounts are often linked to more personal information.

Passwords: Passwords to all kinds of accounts are stolen and bought and sold on the dark web. Anything that requires a password could be at risk; from your bank accounts to your government accounts and social media. With over five billion passwords on the dark web, it’s never been more important to secure your information.

A free dark web scan from Keeper can alert you to any of your personal information that might be on the dark web, including passwords, email addresses, and more.

Is My Information On The Dark Web?

By now, you’re probably wondering if your own personal information is floating somewhere on the dark web. It’s highly likely that a password, email address, or some other personal item has been stolen or accessed at some point, which is why it’s more important than ever to protect yourself.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a disturbing trend in identity theft and other cybercrime. By producing scam posts and misinformation regarding the virus, cybercriminals have been effectively tricking everyday people into clicking web links that expose their personal information. As always, you should be careful of any links you click, but sometimes, just being careful simply isn’t enough to secure your information.

Which is why we created BreachWatch, our premier dark web monitoring service. With BreachWatch, you’ll get unlimited scans of all your connected accounts. The tool monitors for suspicious activity and will alert you to any dark web activity involving your information. When a record is flagged as “high-risk”, you’ll get a notification, and BreachWatch will help you change the password to better secure your information.

Put your mind at ease regarding stolen passwords, at-risk email or retail accounts, and personal identifiers. BreachWatch is your dark web sentinel, silently watching while you go about your day. The BreachWatch add-on is available for Keeper Unlimited, Keeper Business and Keeper Family.

Where Does Keeper’s Dark Web Monitoring Check for My Information?

A dark web monitoring or dark web email scan is only effective if it’s thorough. Keeper’s dark web scanning checks for your personal information on over 600,000 websites. Whether you’re a blogger, casual internet user, or depend heavily on the internet for your work, Keeper’s security software can help you monitor your information and identify fraud early on.

How Does Dark Web Surveillance Work?

Dark web surveillance uses specific tools to keep tabs on frequented areas on the dark web and the internet. By monitoring for specific information, a dark web scan can detect things like email addresses, passwords that match your own, or more sensitive information such as social security numbers and bank account numbers.

There are billions of websites, networks, and registries across the web, but the advantage of dark web monitoring is that you’re still taking precautions. Without certain protections, you may never know if your information is being sold until it’s too late.

The effects of identity theft are far-reaching and can effectively ruin your life. You could face jail time if your information was used to commit or aid in committing a crime. The amount of time and money you spend on recovering your identity could leave you destitute and out of work. Your credit score could also be impacted if your information is used to open lines of credit and never pay them.

The bottom line? Security is more important than ever, and if you’re not taking basic precautions, you could very well end up one of the thousands of victims that deal with cybercrime and identity theft every year.

What is the Risk of ID Theft?

Just how likely are you to end up a victim of identity theft, anyway? Certain habits (like reusing passwords) can put you at a higher risk, and a startling number of people engage in poor password and personal data management habits. According to Equifax, you’re at a much higher risk for ID theft if you:

  • Frequently re-use passwords
  • Carry your Social Security card in your wallet
  • Don’t track your credit activity regularly
  • Don’t use caution with your email address
  • Don’t use caution with financial information, including passwords, account numbers, etc.

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, it’s probably a good time to work on changing bad habits and enlisting a dark web monitoring service to see if your info is already compromised.

The Bottom Line

Your personal information is nothing less than the key to your identity. Once a cybercriminal acquires certain personal information, they can effectively ruin your personal and financial life. It’s never been more important to secure your information and monitor the dark web on a constant basis to catch breaches as soon as they occur.

Keeper Security’s BreachWatch software will help monitor the dark web for your personal information, and with Keeper’s password manager, you’ll be alerted when passwords are outdated or duplicates are found on the web. Don’t wait until someone steals your identity to protect yourself. Take the right steps today to ensure a safe, secure tomorrow with Keeper.