What Does Dark Web Monitoring Really Do for Identity Protection?

What Does Dark Web Monitoring Really Do for Identity Protection?

You may have seen one of those commercials showing a shady figure typing at a keyboard promoting a Dark Web monitoring service and wondered if it was worth trying out.

Identity theft has become a major security concern around the world and costs individuals and businesses millions of dollars every year. It’s one of the reasons that companies use managed security services to keep their networks safe from a breach exposing customer or employee personal data.

In a report by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), it was found that in 2017 out-of-pocket losses for Australian identity theft victims nearly doubled from the previous year to $2.9 million (over $1.1 million higher than 2016.).

The percentage of victims experiencing theft of their personal information within a 12-month span also increased from 8.5% to 13.1%. Almost all (96.9%) of the nearly 10,000 study participants stated that the misuse of their personal information was “very” or “somewhat” serious.

Identity crime of companies in Australia had a financial impact of between $1.4 billion and $2.0 billionin 2017.

So, what does the Dark Web have to do with identity theft?

It’s the biggest marketplace where personal information is sold. When someone breaches a network and makes off with personally identifiable information – like names, addresses, credit card numbers, passwords – the Dark Web is where they go to sell those to other parties that will use them to do things like commit credit card fraud of take out loans in your or your company’s name.

How Does the Dark Web Work?

Before we get into Dark Web monitoring, we’ll go over the basics of what the Dark Web is and how it works.

Beneath the publicly visible internet that most of us use every day through browsers like Chrome and Firefox, there is another more secret internet called the “Deep Web.”

The Deep web is much larger than the internet as we know it and it consists of pages that are not indexed by search engines and thus cannot be found in a Google search.

The Deep web consists of benign things like files that are stored on web servers and also more malicious pages that are encrypted and can only be reached by specific types of browsers, this is called the Dark Web.

Think of the Dark Web like a back alley of the internet that you can only enter if you know how to find it. It’s accesses via browsers like Tor and others designed to read the .onion domain names and to mask their IP address.

While not all pages on the Dark Web are nefarious, many are, and they rely on the secrecy the network provides to avoid law enforcement.

In the Dark Web marketplace, thieves can purchase personal information such as:

  • Login to an ecommerce site like Wayfair or eBay ($1.56 – $15.34US/AUD $2.25 – $22.15)
  • Credit card information ($50US/AUD $72)
  • Passport information ($62.61US/AUD $90.42)
  • Full identity package (proof of identity, payment card details, online banking login, etc.) ($1,170US/AUD $1,690)

Is Dark Web Monitoring Worth It?

Dark Web monitoring services scan and monitor certain areas of the Dark Web for your personal or business name or other personally identifiable information. They will generally scan well-known peer-to-peer networks, chatrooms, and specific websites.

Experian recently announced the launch of their Dark Web monitoring service called CyberAgent in Australia and New Zealand, which scans for the following types of information to see if it’s being sold in the Dark Web marketplace:

  • National Identity Numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Medical ID numbers
  • Bank Account and routing numbers
  • Credit/debit card numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Passport numbers
  • Retail credit numbers

If any information is found that matches your company or personal details, you’re alerted so you can take steps to protect yourself and/or your business.

It’s important to know that the Dark Web is vast and there is no way a Dark Web monitoring service could scan the entire thing. It’s scanning a small portion where large databases of information have been known to be sold.

There’s also a good chance that if your information is found, it may not be the only marketplace it’s being sold on. Personal details are often sold and resold multiple times by crooks just looking to make cash wherever they can.

Pros & Cons of Dark Web Monitoring

The pros of using a Dark Web Monitoring service include:

  • You’ll get notification if any of your personally identifiable individual or company information is found on one of the sites being scanned.
  • While just a small portion of the Dark Web is scanned, it could be better than not scanning at all.
  • Scans are performed regularly as long as you’re subscribed to the service.
  • It could alert a company to a data breach of their information before they’re aware of it otherwise.

The cons of Dark Web Monitoring include:

  • The services can only scratch the surface when it comes to scanning the vast scope of the Dark Web.
  • If your information is found, there is no telling how long it’s been compromised or how many other sites have it.
  • The service won’t stop your identity from being stolen, just let you know if their scan finds your information on one of the sites monitored.
  • Pricing can vary widely with these services from AUD $14.42 to AUD $143 per month.

Keep Your Information Protected and Safe from Compromise

The best protection from identity theft is by preventing a data breach of your personal or company information in the first place. GKM2 offers managed IT security that includes multiple layers of protection for your devices and network.

Contact us today to learn more! Call +61 2 9161 7171 or request a quote online.