How much are your personal details worth?
Your details could be all over the Dark Web… what is it?
The internet has three specific tiers – the ‘Public Web’, surprisingly forming roughly 4% of the internet, is what we all use everyday, and includes services like day to day websites and social media platforms etc. The ‘Deep Web’, representing the largest amount at around 93% of the internet, consists of private servers & systems, such as cloud services and CRM databases. Which leaves around 3% of the internet in the dark typically used for illegal activity. Identified as the ‘Dark Web’, untraceable and difficult to access, it is therefore a prime location for the shared activities between cyber criminals of all kinds.
How and why have my details appeared on the Dark Web?
If a hacker has been able to steal a list of user login credentials from a particular service or system; these personal details will have value to other cyber criminals, and therefore are shared and sold with connecting parties on the Dark Web.
This community want access to your details to penetrate your lifestyle, mimic your actions and, through a number of different means, look to defraud you and those you are connected with. One breach is all it takes.
Should I be concerned?
If your login credentials, email addresses, passwords and even bank details, have been exposed and listed on the Dark Web, they will likely be available for purchase to the rest of the world.
And, far worse; if you typically use the same passwords, email addresses and login IDs across lots of different platforms you access, which is worrying common, such as accessing your online banking, social media profiles, email accounts and private photo & data storage; you are very vulnerable to cyber-attacks and being defrauded via your entire internet presence.
With access to all of these private services, it is incredibly likely your identity will be stolen and used as a platform to try to defraud those you are connected with via social media and email.
But, what can I do?
Many services are available that can scan the Dark Web and will identify whether you are at risk. Such services can maintain a constant look & watch by trawling the data found within the dark web for your personal credentials, such as; email address, or other associated usernames or handles, and then raise an alert if anything of note can be found at any time.
If your details are unfortunately found, you are then immediately made aware of your position of vulnerability, and critically can take action by at least resetting your passwords and user IDs wherever used, giving you back some control.
How can I avoid becoming a target?
It’s virtually impossible to stop yourself from becoming a target; an unfortunate harsh reality we must all accept, is that at some point, our personal details will be stolen from somewhere. Whether that’s through our own lack of cyber security defences, being the victim of an email phishing attack, or, a mistake on someone else’s part.
BUT! The more important factor is being aware when you’re at risk, and having a process in place to mitigate your exposure both personally, and for your business. By implementing best security practices, such as the setting of secure passwords, ensuring that you regularly change those passwords, differ the passwords & login details across different systems, and lastly, implement cyber security features such as 2-Factor / Multi-Factor Authentication (2FA/MFA).
By enforcing cyber security features, such as 2FA or MFA, you are able to add another hurdle to cyber criminals in the process of accessing web-based data & services, beyond the first-tier of only usernames and passwords. Should your password be obtained elsewhere and that person tries to access a system that you use, you’ll receive notification by text message, phone call, or email, to your device to authorise that login; therefore faulting cyber criminals from getting to your data.
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