What is a Dark Web Scan?
Several companies these days including Experian are lobbying for something called "dark web scans." These organizations claim that they can actually scan the dark web in order to detect whether the criminals are selling your personal information. However, is it really worth it to hire their services?
Defining the Dark Web
It comprises of certain hidden sites on the Internet, which a user is not able to access without using special software. Such websites are not visible when the user uses search engines like Google. Also, it is not even possible to access these websites unless appropriate tools are used by users.
A great instance would be the Tor software, which you can easily use to indulge in anonymous browsing in the normal web. However, even this tool conceals certain special websites that are referred to as "Tor hidden services" or ".onion sites." Such sites use the Tor software to hide their actual location while they can be exclusively accessed through its network.
However, certain legitimate functions also exist for these Tor hidden services. A good example would be Facebook that provides facebookcorewwwi.onion, which is a type of Tor .onion website. You can only access it if you are connected to Tor. It enables people in all those nations access Facebook where the social media site has been officially blocked. A search engine called DuckDuckGo is also available at a certain hidden service address of Tor to help in bypassing government censorship.
However, it is alarming to note that the dark web has been in news also for being used in conducting criminal activities. After all, if a criminal wishes to sell databases constituting of social security numbers and credit cards if people online, they would like their exact location to be concealed so that the authorities are unable to track them. It is precisely the reason why many criminals seek such information on this dark web. For a similar reason, the notorious website called Silk Road was only visible through Tor. Incidentally, it is a black market on the web for illicit activities and drugs.
Services do not scan the entire Dark Web
However, there are so many dark websites that these services cannot scan your data in the complete dark web. It is not even possible to do so. Checking each such site is just not possible to find out whether they are online or not, as well as, looking for your personal data is tough on them.
Also, though such services would have been scanning the complete public dark web, they could hardly view the exclusive stuff. It would be not made public and would be shared privately.
Purpose of Dark Web Scan
Any business, which provides dark web scans would not disclose what they usually do. However, making an informed guess is not difficult. All these businesses are collecting data dumps, which are made public on dark web's popular websites.
Data dumps refer to huge databases containing important details such as usernames, passwords, and other sensitive personal details such as details of credit cards and social security numbers, which are published online after being robbed from compromised sites. Thereafter, you will be informed that they might intimate if they find your personal information on anyone list.
Yet, even when such a scan declares that everything is alright, you might be not fine. After all most of these services scan the leaks, which are publicly available and where they enjoy access. It is not possible for them to scan everything.
Monitoring data breaches without any charge
Although the hype surrounding the dark web scan might be too much, their service is not altogether useless. There are certain services, which are excellent when you want to check whether your credentials have been leaked or not.
It is a good preventive measure to always create and use unique passwords. It will ensure that even when your credentials are leaked on one of the sites, your other accounts cannot be easily accessed by the cybercriminals.