One of those mysterious and scary places you hear about from time to time is the “Dark Web.” This is like the internet underground that can’t be accessed by standard web browsers and where it’s easier for cybercriminals to conduct illegal activities such as selling stolen credit card details or social security numbers.
Dark web scanning is a popular sales incentive used by companies like Experian, among others. They offer you a free dark web scan to check for your personal data being sold in an effort to sell you other identify theft protection services.
Our Connect2Geek Managed IT Security Sentries are an elite team that helps businesses in the Treasure Valley area ensure their data is safe and their network is protected from breaches. Occasionally, when they’re out in the field they’ll get the question, “Is Dark Web scanning legitimate?”
It’s not a simple “yes” or “no” question, because these services do actually scan certain parts of the online territory considered the Dark Web, but it’s not a complete safeguard against identify theft either. We’ll give you the lowdown below on Dark Web scanning so you can decide for yourself.
What is the Dark Web, Exactly?
The Dark Web is another version of the internet that’s accessed with different tools than the one you’re using to read this blog. By design, the websites on the Dark Web are made to be hidden and only accessible by someone that knows how to get to them.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can think of the normal internet you access through browsers like Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox as Diagon Alley. Open for business with websites trying to be found. The sites on the Dark Web would be more like Knockturn Alley, hidden in the shadows for only those that had business being there.
Websites on the Dark Web use .onion in their domain name and are accessed using the TOR network with the TOR browser bundle. The anonymity is what drives all type of criminals to the Dark Web to sell everything from stolen login credentials to new malware creations.
Dark Web pricing starts at $150 for hacking one web resource.
Just a few of the most in-demand dark services offered there are:
- Creating and distributing malware
- Hacking email accounts, websites, and servers
- Driving up likes and views using a botnet
- Creating fake clone sites
What Does a Dark Web Scan Do?
Dark Web scanning and monitoring services offer to search for your personal information on the Dark Web and let you know if any of it is found. The service is offered both to individuals and to companies, who may worry about login credentials being hacked.
Types of personal information that these Dark Web Scanning services look for are:
- Usernames & passwords
- Credit card numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Postal & IP addresses
- Email address
- Phone number
It’s important to note that these services can’t scan the entire Dark Web, with millions of hidden sites. What they do is scan specific websites that are generally known for “data dumps” or having personal data available to be scanned.
Experian states that they search “over 600,000 webpages” for your personal information with their Dark Web Triple Scan. To give you an idea of how many sites are thought to be on the Dark Web, there are at least 4.5 billion websites that are indexed by search engines, and the deep web (of which the dark web is a sub-set) is estimated to be 400 to 500 times larger.
So, any Dark Web scanning service can only search so far, and it’s going to be a small portion of the Dark Web as a whole.
Are there Benefits to Dark Web Scanning?
If you’re worried about identify theft or your company’s login credentials being stolen, then you do get some amount of a “heads up” from a Dark Web scan. The benefit is that if any of your personal data happens to be found on the specific sites the scan searches, then you’ll know about it and can take appropriate actions, such as changing logins or canceling your credit card.
One other thing to remember is that in order for these services to scan for your personal data, you have to give it to them. That means giving them sensitive personal information, which is another added risk to using a Dark Web scan.
Rather than being an important security precaution, Dark Web scans are mainly used as sales tools to generate leads for the companies offering them and to upsell you on more thorough data scans or other identity theft services, and have very negligible benefits to the user.
Find Solid IT Security that Benefits You & Your Business
If you’re looking for truly helpful IT security that can protect both your personal and business data, Connect2Geek can help! From email protection to anti-virus to network security, we’ve got you covered.
Schedule a free security consultation today by calling 208-468-4323 or contacting us online.