Data breaches have become so commonplace that we can count them by the week, if not the day. Breaches in 2018 have far surpassed the count of 2017, with no signs of slowing. Applications that track these daily breaches have reached counts of literally millions per day, showing graphically as beams of light arcing across the globe.
Just the Equifax data breach alone compromised nearly 150 million Americans and included individuals in Europe as well. Combine that with all the other significant breaches in the last year – from banks and airlines to healthcare and fitness companies and many more – the majority of people have already been affected. That means a good many of us can be certain our private data has already been stolen and is circulating in the wild.
If Your Data Is ‘In the Wild,’ It’s on the Dark Web
So where exactly is “in the wild”? Most likely, that means our data winds up on the Dark Web, where it’s made available for trade and purchase for identity theft and other nefarious purposes. The Dark Web is a place in the larger part of the Web where those who seek it, can find and buy dangerous and illicit things such as drugs, paraphernalia, and criminal services for hire.
The World Wide Web Is the Tip of the Iceberg – the Deep Web & Dark Web Are What’s ‘Underneath’
What we know and experience every day as the Web is only a small fraction of it. We experience the part that’s indexed and searchable by search engines like Google and Bing, which represents only a small percentage of all that’s there. The rest and much larger part of the Internet is the deep Web, the giant iceberg below the tip we see above the surface. This giant deep web part under the surface contains private databases and information behind subscriptions, government entities and academic networks, among many other entities.
A portion of the deep web is the Dark Web, where illicit activities and criminal exchanges take place. Nothing there is indexed so there’s no way to find anything the way we’re used to. Much is hidden and the only way to locate something is to know precisely where to look. People can find some things they might be searching for in marketplaces and bazaars where illegal things are sold. Access to private networks is tough because those seeking entry are heavily scrutinized before being allowed in.
The Dark Web Isn’t Indexed or Searchable – But You Can Still Find Out if Your Info Is There
These days, we know the majority of law-abiding people have some of their stolen private information on the Dark Web, but it’s hard to find that information there because, as described above, searches don’t happen the way we’re used to. Because of this, and because most people don’t have a desire to scout the Dark Web, some credit card companies are offering services to help their customers find out if their information has been stolen and placed on the Dark Web. The credit company, Experian, has also provided links where people who are game can check for themselves. A few of these types of links are provided below.
As daily breaches continue to plague us, below are some steps you can take to protect yourself, all free.
1. Monitor your credit report
2. Freeze your credit report
3. Change passwords regularly
4. Check the dark web to see if your personal information is there
For a more complete list, download our free Self Protection Guide