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Is Your Information Safe From The Dark Web?

Is your information save from the dark web?

Many people think the internet they use every day is the vast majority of the World Wide Web, but it’s actually only 4% of the internet visible to the public. That means roughly 96% of the information on the rest of the internet is hidden – but does that also mean it’s safe? The short answer is probably not. The “dark web” is a term you may have heard before, even if you’re not a cyber criminal. What is the dark web? Why should you care about it? Most importantly, how do you protect yourself from it? Think of the internet as being composed of three parts:

#1 The Public/Surface Web, #2 The Deep Web, and #3 The Dark Web

Dark web infographic CMIT

The Public/Surface Web

The internet that you are most familiar with is also known as the public internet or surface web. Everything you find on the surface web is indexed by search engines like Google and Bing. This part of the internet is where you search for various information, shop online, view pictures on social media, and download music. While it is the most visible, the surface web accounts for the smallest part of the total web.

The Deep Web

The largest part of the internet is the deep web. It makes up roughly 90% of the internet. Unlike the surface web, the deep web is not indexed by search engines. It contains things like personal medical data, subscription websites, and internal company networks. Much of this data is encrypted and protected from searching, not to hide something illegal, but to protect it from the public or because it is a paid service.

The Dark Web

The remaining estimated 6% of cyberspace is the dark web.  Similar to the deep web, the dark web is not indexed by search engines. The dark web requires special browsers or tools to access its contents. Using the TOR (The Onion Router) browser, the dark web allows users and visitors to maintain anonymity because of the way it routes encrypted internet traffic through various nodes in layers like an onion. Specifically, those nodes (computers and/or routers) each conceal the source of the dark web traffic and cannot be easily tracked.

Although the dark web is best known as a haven for cyber criminal activity, there are some legitimate uses of the dark web. These legitimate uses include being able to conduct anonymous conversations in places where free speech is suppressed, being able to browse the web without one’s activities being monitored including hiding your IP address and helping to maintain your privacy online. Unfortunately, because of these protections the dark web also provides the means for criminals to conduct their business.

The Dark Side of the Dark Web

The dark web is getting a lot of attention lately. Cyber criminals leverage the anonymous nature of the dark web to launch attacks on a company’s network and on individuals. The dark web is also a hiding place for loot stolen from these cyber attacks and is an exchange where criminals can sell their wares—i.e. your stolen data.

If you have been the victim of a data breach—and it’s pretty likely you have—your credit card data, personal information (social security number, addresses, etc.) or usernames and passwords are likely on the dark web. Your data which may be invaluable to you, fetches pennies on the dollar on the dark web and cyber criminals will stop at nothing to get, sell and use it.

Here are five ways to protect yourself from dark web criminals:

Dark Web Infographic - How to protect your data from the dark web

Considering a staggering 4.5 billion data records were compromised in the first half of 2018 alone, the odds that your identity or information will fall prey to one of these breaches sooner or later is only a matter of time. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” This is also true for the dark web.

The best way to determine if your data is on the dark web is to perform a dark web scan. Not confident that you can do a thorough dark web scan and identity protection on your own? Work with CMIT, your trusted cybersecurity advisor to shine light on your own private information hiding out in the dark web. Contact us today at 781-350-3438 or via email to info@cmitne.com for more information.

Written by: Chris Zambuto | Chief Information Security Officer @CMITBostonCambridge

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