What is Dark Web Monitoring?
How Does Dark Web Monitoring Work and Steps to Protect Yourself
Dark web monitoring is a procedure that searches for and tracks leaked personal information throughout the various forums and websites found on the dark web. This information could be anything from compromised passwords to bank accounts, intellectual property or even personal information like social security numbers (SSNs).
But how can dark web monitoring help if your information is already leaked to the dark web? Let’s consider what the dark web is, how dark web monitoring works, and how monitoring can protect your information from cybercriminals.
What Is the Dark Web?
The dark web is a network of websites and forums that support anonymity, allowing participants to use it for criminal or illicitacts while remaining somewhat anonymous or unidentifiable by law enforcement. For example, some sites may rely on The Onion Router (TOR) project to obscure their sites from normal internet access and prevent search engines from indexing them.
The dark web is not entirely filled with illicit material, but that’s the majority of its contents—one estimate suggests about 57% of the dark web facilitates illegal activity.
VP, Identity Intelligence Product
How Does Dark Web Monitoring Work?
The dark web is hard to navigate—you need special software even to access the network. So how can a dark web monitoring tool work to protect you against the repercussions of data leaks? Here’s a breakdown of how it works.
Gathers Personal Information
First, your dark web monitoring tool will list all the personal information of your organization’s employees. This information may include things like SSNs, passwords, credit card numbers, and personal IDs (most monitoring tools offer customization options to expand the information you can track).
Scours the Dark Web for That Information
After gathering the information, your dark web monitoring tool will scour the dark web, looking for forums and websites where that information is posted. Think of this tool as a specially configured search engine—while it’s difficult to navigate the dark web, a dark web monitoring service will have the automation necessary to quickly find and flag forums and websites where your information appears.
Alerts You to Next Steps
The monitoring tool will notify you if any of your information was detected on the dark web. It will then offer the next steps you should take to protect yourself. This may involve changing passwords, canceling credit cards, or notifying the Federal Trade Commission of attempted identity theft.
Benefits of Dark Web Monitoring
Better protection is always a good thing, but what specific benefits does dark web monitoring offer? Here are some unique benefits to working with a dark web monitoring tool:
Decreases time between breach and detection: Dark web monitoring is a type of breach detection. You can quickly discover when a breach has occurred and alert affected employees and customers. While you may use breach detection tools, having one that scans the dark web is simply added protection.
Gives cybercriminals less time to use your data: Since dark web monitoring can alert you the moment information is leaked to the dark web, you can act fast. Depending on how quickly you act on those alerts, you can give cybercriminals little to no time to use your information for their illicit deeds.
Prepares you for future breaches: Seeing what information is leaked onto the dark web can help you provide better protection for that information in the future. For example, if you notice company credit card information was the most common info found on the dark web, you may install new protocols to protect that info better.
Questions You May Have About the Dark Web
The dark web is a mysterious beast to most people. As such, you may have questions about how your information could end up on the network in the first place. Let’s consider some of these questions.
Why Would My Email Be on the Dark Web?
Why is your email on the dark web? What could criminals do with that information? Simply put, they want to steal your identity, and your email is a simple way to do that.
Hackers have half of the information they need to take over your account with your email address completely. They’ll use other means to try and gain hold of your password, including phishing schemes and trying other leaked passwords attached to your account.
Once they have your email and password, hackers can easily access all kinds of information and accounts, like online bank accounts, social media profiles, and other web services.
How Does Personal Info Get on the Dark Web?
There are a variety of ways your personal info can land on the dark web, including:
- Data breaches (which have increased in frequency, despite some dips, since 2005)
- Phishing schemes
- Malware attacks
What Does It Mean If Your Info Is out There?
If your information is on the dark web, there isn’t much you can do to remove that information. Instead, you can take action to prevent the negative consequences of having your information on the dark web. We’ll go over what you should do in the next section of this article.
How to Protect Yourself from Dark Web
Whether your information has already leaked onto the dark web or you simply want to protect yourself from the threat, these are the three steps you should take:
1. Establish Cyber Privacy Practices
Make it as difficult as possible for hackers to infiltrate your cybersecurity systems with a robust cybersecurity service and state-of-the-art privacy practices. Your cybersecurity program should:
- Measure your current exposure risk and network vulnerabilities.
- Set up a system that protects all of your employees from external attacks.
- Defend your employees from the consequences of digital exposure.
- Update itself on new threat intelligence and dark web activity.
- Deliver extensive reports on cybersecurity health.
- Alert you to breaches and lost data.
2. Train Your Employees on Better Security Practices
Employees are frequently targeted with scams that attempt to steal their personal information, particularly non-executive employees. While they should be protected with the cyber privacy practices we described in the previous point, they should also be trained to protect themselves when faced with a cyber threat. This includes:
- Explaining what your organization’s cybersecurity program does and does not protect against
- Training employees on the difference between corporate and personal usage of organization-owned devices
- Teaching employees how to spot suspicious activities on the device and accounts
- Suggesting different ways to maintain and secure passwords
- Enrolling employees in online or in-person cybersecurity courses
3. Monitor the Dark Web for Future Breaches
After everyone in your organization is properly trained and protected against dark web threats, employ a dark web monitoring service to keep tabs on your network. If any new data breaches leak information onto the dark web, you will be the first to know about it.
Use Data to Defend Against the Dark Web
Now that you know what dark web monitoring is, you hopefully better understand what you stand to gain from integrating the service into your network. And the more data your security program has on the dark web, the easier it will be to find out if your information is out there.
Constella Intelligence has more data sources than any other cybersecurity service to date, thanks to our extensive monitoring tools. If you’re ready to protect your assets, your customers, or employees from the depths of the dark web, give Constella Intelligence a try today.
Related Article: 5 Key Factors to Consider for Dark Web Identity Monitoring