The Internet is a massive place, generally covering three levels of access:
- The most visible is the Public Web, where you can search for and read news and other information, shop for goods and services and watch videos or share photos.
- The biggest area, called the Deep Web, isn’t indexed by search engines but contains things like financial account information, company and school intranets, online databases, and member-only websites.
- And then there is the Dark Web, a sometimes-seedy area frequented by crooks dealing in stolen data, malware and even drugs.
It’s the Dark Web that we hear about the most after data breaches that affect credit and debit card data and other personal information that can lead to fraud and theft. It can be a huge cost to consumers and businesses.
The Dark Web is a mostly anonymous place not indexed by normal search engines or accessible with traditional browsers. It’s an encrypted network where criminals anonymously buy and sell stolen data such as debit and credit card information, Social Security numbers, medical records and account logins – all things that can cost you money or ruin your credit rating and reputation.
Crooks on the Dark Web can make a living selling and reselling this vital information and because it is so hard to track, you’ll likely not know you’ve been compromised until it’s too late.
So what can you do to help guard your information from showing up on the Dark Web, or how do you realize you’ve been a target?
Here are some tips:
- Use strong passwords to prevent accounts from being hacked or having your data stolen.
- To prevent the placement of malware that can lead to data theft, don’t click on suspicious links or download questionable files.
- Check your financial accounts regularly for any suspicious activity.
- Check your credit reports at least annually for credit queries or accounts that you weren’t aware of.
By doing all you can to protect your data and that of others, you can help keep important information from falling to the dark side.