The Deep Places Of The Internet: How to do a Dark Web Scan and Monitoring

article by Rebecca Lori
March 10, 2020
Many people have heard of the dark web and have no doubt associated it with illegal activity. The usual line of thinking is that if you’re not a criminal, then there’s nothing to worry about right? Wrong!  
Unfortunately, the dark web is crawling with criminal activity, and one of the ways in which this dark corner of the web is used is through the sale of personal information such as credit card details, email addresses, Social Security numbers, IP addresses, passwords, phone numbers, and more. The illegal sale of this information can then lead to identity and data theft. You may feel that you’re the last person that would get your information stolen, but how safe are your credit card details and passwords, really? Do you have security measures in place?

Over the past few years, many large corporations and banks such as Capital One, Canva, Facebook, Fortnite, and the hotel chain Marriott (to name just a few) have had serious data breaches, resulting in billions of records being hacked and sold on the black market. How can you tell if your data is safe? To find out if your information is floating around on the dark web then you will need to perform a Dark Web scan.

This article will guide you through so that you can discover dark scan, how to use it, how it can help you secure your data in the long run. And for entrepreneurs, why dark web scan for business is worth having and what other practices can be done alongside this.

How to do a Dark Web Scan

Now, we can start to discover dark scan and its many facets. So what is a Dark Web scan and how can you use dark web scanning tools to protect your data?

A Dark Web scan is a service that is now offered by many high-profile companies. When we compare and contrast, it can be difficult to know whether an Experian dark web scan is better than a Credit Karma dark web scan, not to mention the hundreds of other companies that claim the best results.

Results vary depending on whether you pay for a dark web scan service or use a free dark web scan tool, but we believe that it’s always worth running a free dark web identity scan before opting for a paid version of a dark web identity scan.

Websites on the dark web cannot be accessed through search engines. To access the dark web, you will need special software. Most people use a Tor browser to access illegal websites, and journalists often use it to anonymously communicate with their sources. Some people also use it to avoid being watched by the government.

The dark web is a dangerous place that is often used for dark purposes like to share child pornography, sell drugs and firearms, and buy, sell, or share stolen information. When a company performs a Dark Web scan, they will scan the dark web for you and search through databases of leaked Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card details, usernames and more. You will then be notified if your personal information is found online. When companies scan the dark web, there are no guarantees that they will find anything. Even if your information has been stolen, there are simply too many websites and databases to search to make this possible.

Whether you’ll go for Experian dark web scan or a Credit Karma dark web scan in the end depends on factors subjective to you.

Why Would my Information be Out There on the Dark Web?

One of the most commonly asked questions: what type of information is usually bought and sold on the dark web, and why is it there in the first place? The dark web is the place where everything you can imagine can be illegally bought and sold. Need an exotic pet from Africa? No problem. A firearm in Europe? Easy. It might be difficult to then imagine why your details could be lurking around on the dark side of the web. After all, this information is useless, isn’t it?

Not so, when you look at the main uses of the dark web, unfortunately. The most common pieces of information bought and sold by criminals are Social Security numbers, credit card details, bank account numbers, log-in details for PayPal, medical records, passports, driver’s licenses, phone numbers, and more. The financial worth of such data will vary…but everything has a price on the dark web.

Private data on the dark web has normally been illegally obtained, but it is worth also looking at the information you have online that is freely available to anyone that has tech know-how. How private is your Facebook page and can it be linked to your email address? Have you ever entered personal details into an unverified website? Who knows where this information can end up? Your information can be leaked easier than you think, and when we look at 2019 alone, we can see that lots of corporations were victims of major data breaches. How can you be sure that your information hasn’t been leaked?

How a Dark Web Scan Can Help Protect Your Information

There are lots of different ways of checking if your data has been compromised and is available on the dark web. You can use a free dark web scan tool, which we will talk about in more detail later, or perform a background check on yourself.

Using a Background Check Service to See if Your Private Data is on the Dark Web

A background check service will scan a name, address or phone number to see where it appears online. This service is not just used by private detectives but by everyday people looking to check if a person has a criminal record, whether they are who they say they are, and also to see if your own information is available on the dark web.

TruthFinder is one of the most popular background check companies in the U.S. and works by scanning millions of records to provide a comprehensive report on the person who you are searching for. It stands out as one of the best companies in the industry because it is one of the few that can scan the dark web. If you sign up for the TruthFinder background check service, then not only will you be able to run scans on yourself and other people, but you’ll be able to use their dark web monitoring service too.

Using this service, you can check your driver’s license, Social Security number, medical identification numbers, passport number, email address, credit/debit card details, bank account numbers and more. TruthFinder claims to search through social media feeds, forums and chat rooms, P2P file-sharing networks, servers, web servers, web services, bulletin boards, and file transmissions in order to see if your information has been shared.

How to Set Up Dark Web Monitoring

There are lots of companies that offer this service and we found that TruthFinder, Dashlane dark web monitoring, and Open Source dark web monitoring are some of the best dark web monitoring services.

The first step in checking your information, should be to first run it through a free service such as Have I Been Pwned? This website is super useful for checking to see if your email address or password appears in approximately 322 data dump websites. These sites are where leaked and stolen information is “dumped” and shared/sold amongst peers. This website is a first step only, however, as it does not search for Social Security numbers. For extra-safe practice, then it’s advisable to set up dark web monitoring through a background check service or dedicated service, which can search all of your personal information.

Dashlane dark web monitoring is one of such services available on their Premium package. Services like this, Open Source dark web monitoring, and the TruthFinder background check, enable its users to set up regular monitoring. That’s why we consider them the best dark web monitoring services. These dark web scanning tools are specially designed to constantly scan the internet for personal information which has been compromised. You can set dark web monitoring up so that you receive alerts if your data is found on the dark web. The type of information that these services can usually identify includes: postal and IP addresses, credit card details, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, usernames, and passwords.

What Do I Do If I Find Out my Information is on the Dark Web and How Do I Remove It?

If you run a dark web scan and discover your information online, it can be worrisome, to say the least. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent this information from being used.

Notify Banks/Creditors

One of the first steps that you should take if your information is found on the dark web, then you will need to contact your creditors and banks immediately. You should assume that your information is ready to be used if it hasn’t already, and contact the fraud team who will advise the next stages. It is highly likely that you will have to change your bank cards and bank account number, and cancel or freeze previous accounts so that money cannot be taken from you.

Check Bank Statements

The next stage in the process is to run a fine-tooth comb through your bank statements. Fraud doesn’t have to be large to be noticeable, and there may be smaller purchases that have been made using your credit or debit card details. Scour your statements to look out for anything that looks unfamiliar or suspicious. If you find anything, then contact your bank immediately.

Create a Fraud Alert on your Credit Report

There are several large-scale credit reporting agencies that are based in the U.S.: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you have found your credit details on the dark web, then you should contact one of these companies and put a fraud alert on your credit report. The reason for this is to protect your credit against any damage caused by criminals who may have tried to take out credit cards or loans using your name. This is a useful step to take if you are unsure if your information has been compromised. It lasts around 90 days.

Change Your Passwords

Immediately! Passwords and usernames protect your private accounts, and within these accounts, you can usually find your bank details and other personal information. Change all passwords and make sure that you change them to something which is unrelated to previous passwords. If you have the chance to use a two-step verification then do so, as this is a much safer option. Don’t forget PINS, if you’re changing your passwords, then you will need to change these too.

Unfortunately, you cannot remove your information from the dark web, so you’ll need to take the above steps and up your security game.

How else can I keep my information safe from the dark web?

Performing a dark web scan for business or personal use can literally save you from being a victim of fraud, but there are other things you can do alongside using a dark web scan service.

Other security measures to keep your information safe from the dark web…

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Each time you use the internet, you are leaving yourself wide open for cybercriminals who are looking to steal information to sell or use themselves. Each day, literally hundreds of thousands of malware and viruses are being discovered that can hack into your system and steal your data. When you use a VPN or Virtual Private Network, then you are creating a secure connection between you and the internet.

When you connect to the internet and use a Virtual Private Network, your traffic is sent via an encrypted tunnel, which means that it will be safe from hackers and cybercriminals. This is particularly useful when you log onto an open server using public wifi, and enter credit card details to make a purchase. Using a VPN adds a vital element of safety to your internet use, and minimizes the chances of your data being hacked and shared on the dark web.

Password Manager

Data breaches are occurring more and more frequently, and it isn’t just individuals who are victims. Large corporations are finding themselves victims of such crime, and this means that millions of passwords, usernames and email addresses are being discovered on the dark web. The problem with this is that people often use the same password for multiple accounts.

This makes easy work for cybercriminals looking to hack into your various accounts. The best way to protect yourself is to have strong passwords for every account you own, which differs greatly. We understand that this can be almost impossible for most people to remember, so using a password manager is the most sensible option. A password manager that keeps all of your passwords in one place and is accessed with just one master password. These passwords are kept in an encrypted database which renders them pretty safe from anyone, apart from the key holder.

AV Protection

If you don’t have antivirus protection, then how can you feel totally safe online? This is one of the most basic forms of data protection, and there are plenty of reasonably-priced packages available to purchase and some free options too.

New malware is being created as you read this and an antivirus scan could reveal that there are already viruses on your system. Protect your data from cybercrime and use AV protection which will regularly scan and clean your system from nasty malware which could compromise your private information.

Conclusion

Performing a dark web scan is one of the most sensible things you can do if you want to avoid being a victim of cybercrime. It’s quick and easy to use a free dark web scan tool to see if your details are on the dark web. For a more in-depth and accurate report, use a service such as a background check from TruthFinder. It’s the best option as this will give you a more thorough check.