Your personal data may be on the dark web: What you need to know

When massive breaches happen in organizations where you have an account, it is safe to assume that your personal information has made it to the dark web.

(REUTERS/Kacper Pempel )

Large data breaches at banks and sites such as Yahoo where there are about 3 billion accounts compromised – mean that your personal data can travel to the dark web, networks of coded, often in the shade, sites are not indexed by well known search engines. In fact, the dark web is so different that you usually need special software to use it.

When massive breaches happen in organizations where you have an account, it is safe to assume that your personal information has made it to the dark web. That could mean that, for example, your username and password on a bank or a credit card issuer is affected.

“As soon as the criminals, the bits that describe are indelibly written,” Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, told Fox News. “The virtual life is infinity. The criminals hope to sell it and there are buyers who have different interests.”


Sherban Naum, senior vice president, Corporate Strategy and Technology, Bromine, a cybersecurity company, told Fox News everyone should expect that their data has been stolen “at some point.”

Here are a number of options and the best way to respond if your personal data have been hacked.

How to check if your data is compromised

The website “I pwned” (an Internet slang term used to describe the defeat) provides a comprehensive list of major data breaches.

And you can, for free, if your e-mail address has been hacked. A control a e-mail address can see multiple breaches on sites such as Adobe, bitly, Equifax, and LinkedIn, where hacks were widely reported in the past.

“The main difference is that “I pwned’ is not trying to sell you something” and does not come with all the strings to other “free” dark web scans, James Lerud, of cyber-security company Verodin told Fox News.

There are other services that allow you to check whether your personal data has been compromised. Experian also offers a free service, but it is not as simple as “I pwned.”

Good password strategy

“A different password for each account is ideal,” Verodin the Lerud said. “But it’s not practical without the use of a password manager such as KeePass, LastPass, Dashlane. How to enable two-factor authentication to your important accounts is a good idea.”

Lerud said Google has two steps, which can be accessed here. It also provides a free security check-up.


You can recover your data?

In a word, no.

Once the criminals have your personal information, it is directly copied multiple times, so don’t expect to get your compromised data of the criminals hands.

“Digital data is copied, moved, renamed, downloaded and uploaded to Internet speed,” Brian Contos, chief information security officer, Verodin, told Fox News. “With billions of connected devices and trillions of gigabytes of digital data, full discovery of where your data is and attempt to repair [or] the destruction is not a viable option.”

Again, the best protection for an individual is good password etiquette. This includes changing your password regularly and make sure you have different passwords, that cannot be easily guessed and are reasonably long, for each account.

Is enforcement of the law are active on the dark web?

Dark web forums are monitored by the FBI, the intelligence agencies, banks and a variety of consultants and specialists who work for large companies.

“A lot of Dark Web forums are monitored by law enforcement agencies and private organizations. However, there are many forums. And the existing forums regularly move,” said Verodin the Contos.

“Some of these forums are even offline, to make use of ‘old school’ dial-up bulletin board systems (BBS) instead of directly connected to the Internet. So, the chance that a certain percentage of these forums are not monitored is very high,” he added.

The best practices

Check the sites regularly as the “I pwned” to see if your personal data has been compromised.

In addition, you must ensure that you use different passwords for each account and change them regularly.

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