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What Is a Dark Web Scan, And Do You Need One?

Dark Web Guy | Featured image for dark web scan.

You may have seen advertisements promising a dark web scan where a company searches for your information online and reveals to you whether or not your information is being sold on the ‘dark web’. The fear that your details (or the details of your business) could be sold and traded is scary, sure, but we wanted to go through this in some more detail so that you can make an informed decision.

What is the dark web?

The dark web refers to a small portion of the deep web. The deep web is the part of the internet which is not indexed by standard search engines. The dark web includes small peer to peer networks and larger and popular networks like Tor, Freenet, I2P and Riffle. These networks may also be referred to as onionland – thanks largely to the top-level domain suffix of .onion. The use of the term onion is a reference to the method of cloaking and protecting identity through layers of security – much like an onion.

In short: The dark web consists of sites you can’t access without special software. The websites on the dark web won’t appear when you use Google – and unless you use software like .Tor you won’t be able to see them at all.

While much of the emphasis on the dark web has fallen to illegal purposes, there are some legitimate uses for .onion sites and dark websites. For example, Facebook has a site link which can be accessed by people using a Tor service so that people in countries where Facebook is blocked can access Facebook.

But the fact remains that much of the dark web is used for criminal activities – including selling your details and information. But is a dark web scan actually worth it? Let’s find out more.

When you say dark web scan…

First things first – when a company offers you a dark web scan, they are not offering you a scan of the entire dark web. There are one septillion+ possible sites (that’s 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 possible sites) online at any given time in the dark web, and it’s just not possible to scan every single one and see if your information exists on it.

So, a true dark web scan is actually online looking at data dumps which have been gathered and then made public on popular websites on the dark web. This kind of information has likely been stolen from compromised websites and then released online which means that if you do pay for a dark web scan, you’re paying for a company to scan a small portion of the dark web. Not all of it. And while it may be useful to monitor potential data breaches in this way, the truth is that there’s not a lot of comfort to be taken from a negative result here – especially given the sheer amount of information available online.

What can you do to protect your information?

It’s clear that a dark web scan likely isn’t going to give you the information you need or the peace of mind you’re craving. It’s possible to check if your email address has been leaked before using this tool online but it’s far better to be proactive with your security rather than try and chase leaks around the web.

We recommend:

  • Using a secure and unique password for every different login
  • Using a password manager like Last Pass which can manage and track all of your passwords for you
  • Installing and use computer security and keep it up to date

The bottom line is – there’s a lot you can do to protect your information online, and it’s up to all of us to be proactive when it comes to online security. Things like managed IT services can be hugely helpful when it comes to peace of mind – especially in a time of data compromise or risk.

 If you’re still concerned about the dark web and would like to discuss these concerns, please call us on (07) 3062 6932 today for a discussion.

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