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Your Data Was Leaked On Dark Web – Do and Don’ts

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ByHarper Stewart

Aug 29, 2023
Data Leaked on Dark Web: Do's and Don'ts
Harper Stewart
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The selling of illicit substances, hacking equipment, stolen data, and other illicit goods are just a few of the unlawful activities that are frequently linked to the dark web. Therefore, if your data finds up on the dark web, it may catch the eye of hackers and other malicious individuals that specialize in using such information for illicit purposes. It’s crucial to realize that both the surface web and the dark web are susceptible to data breaches. 

Cybercriminals may target businesses and websites in order to steal user data, which they may subsequently sell or trade on the dark web in order to make money. Whatever the source of the data breach, you must act right once to safeguard yourself. You can find all the information you need below to assist you in the event that your data was compromised and posted on the dark web.

Translated sample of the stolen police records that revealed names, addresses, and even precise locations of citizens.

What Data is Being Posted on the Dark Web?

The Dark Web, which is found at the very bottom of the internet, is well-known for its anonymity and connections to online crime and criminal activity. It functions as a covert network of websites and forums where criminals routinely resell data that has been stolen from enterprise databases.

Users may buy and sell a variety of illegal items and services on the dark web, which enables different criminal activities. On the dark web, the following products are frequently accessible: 

  • Stolen credit card or banking information;
  • Address of an individual;
  • Contact information, such as numbers of family members;
  • Drugs prescriptions;
  • Counterfeit money, such as American dollars and Euros;
  • Hacked accounts, covering everything from software licenses to social media accounts;
  • Stolen government data, such as driver’s license or passport information and tax account numbers;
  • Medical records;
  • Malware;
  • Fake IDs;
  • Pirated software and media.

Here is an example of a post from BreachedForums that announces a breach and contains the information above:

Threat actors may also occasionally gather this data through social engineering strategies like phishing emails or remote access schemes. However, visibility on the dark web frequently results from massive data breaches that have an immediate impact on hundreds or even millions of people.

How Did Your Data End up on the Dark Web?

There are a lot of ways a hacker can steal your data. Most cyberattacks are almost impossible to catch before they cause too much damage. Here`s a report made by Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) that shows data breaches and the attack segments or the hacker`s manners to infiltrate a system:

We`ve compiled the most popular ways of how hackers compromise your data. Take a note while reading these methods, as it can prevent any possible data breaches. Being cautious while accessing any network might be crucial.

Data Breach

A message from twitter indications a data breach.

We frequently hear about data breaches involving prominent corporations like Adobe, Canva, eBay, and others in the press, which may be very concerning. These hacks result in the theft of user data, which may put your personal information at danger. You must act right away to safeguard your passwords and personal data if you have an account or have any stored information with a firm that reports a data breach.

Public Networks

The example of how hackers steal the data using public WI-FI.

Weak public WiFi networks present another security danger. Anyone on the same network may simply keep an eye on your online actions when you join a network that is not password secured. Stay away from public WiFi, especially on networks with passwords that are simple and obvious. If you must use free WiFi, think about using a virtual private network to browse.

Weak Cybersecurity

An example of computer virus.

Online security breaches are another major worry. Hackers can use “man-in-the-middle” attacks on unencrypted websites to intercept the information you type. Instead of websites that begin with HTTP, always seek for ones that begin with HTTPS, as the “S” denotes a more secure connection. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s HTTPS Everywhere browser add-on can help you increase your online security if you come across a website that doesn’t employ HTTPS.

Offline

A woman who uses stolen credit cards caught on camera.

You should take care with your information even when offline. Your security may be jeopardized if you leave your name and address on paper bills or statements. Keep printed sensitive information locked away or shred it before throwing it away to secure it. Avoid sharing information when strangers can overhear it. Don’t let strangers use your banking card or anything that might show your credentials.

How to Know if Your Info is on the Dark Web?

Alerts from organizations warning you of a data breach or seeing strange behavior on your credit card or online banking transactions might be your first clue that your information may be on the dark web. You may also receive notifications of questionable behavior from dark web monitoring tools, SSN/identity tracking, alerts for criminal/court records, house title changes, and address change alerts.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Data Was Compromised?

If your data was posted to the dark web or you have reasons to believe it was, it’s necessary to immediately take action by implementing cybersecurity and social engineering techniques. We will discuss most of them in detail below.

Have You Been Hit With Ransomware?

A ransomware email threatening to public private data if ransom is not paid.

Malicious malware known as ransomware locks down computers and prevents users from using them until a ransom is paid. On-screen displays warning that their computers are locked or their contents are encrypted are frequently used to blackmail victims. The ransom, which is often sought in digital money like Bitcoin, is typically between $200 and $400. 

If your data was already posted, the hackers might want to try to blackmail you into paying more money to delete the information from the dark web. Paying the ransom won’t always ensure that the criminals won’t try to distribute your information. Additionally, the malware itself is not removed and you still would be at risk. Paying the ransom increases the chance that hackers will get more victim information.

Freeze your Bank Accounts

A message from the bank after successfully freezing the account.

After a possible malware occasion, keeping track of your credit card activity is crucial. Among the most popular targets of cyberattacks is credit card numbers. Scams that accumulate several tiny, false charges over a short period of time are frequent and frequently go unnoticed. Contact the three credit bureaus if you see any such activity to have any credit activity in your name stopped. As a result, nobody can create new accounts or apply for loans under your name.

Check your Credit Report

The example of a credit report.

Check your credit report frequently for recent alterations to your credit score. Obtain free credit reports public services, such as the government-run website AnnualCreditReport.com. A sudden decline in credit score might be a sign of fraud, theft of identity, or unlawful activities. Even if they don’t set up fraud alarms, take any unexpected changes seriously. Report identity theft right once if you find any unexplained financial activities, new accounts created in your name, or illegal use of your credit cards. 

Scan for Malicious Software

An example of a malware stealer tool.

If your data was posted, it’s highly likely you still have malware in your system. Update antivirus protection and perform routine device virus and malware scans. Turn on airplane mode or disable Bluetooth and networking to isolate infected devices. Use the antivirus application to remove malware and, if necessary, seek expert assistance. Set device security as a top priority to prevent data intrusion.

Change Your Passwords

The example of strong password requirements.

Check all logins for illegal changes (bank, email, online services). Make your passwords secure by including capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Do not provide anything that may be guessed, such as names or dates of birth and use different passwords for every account. For ease, think about a password manager. These procedures improve data security and safeguard against data breaches.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

The example of how MFA operates.

For high-risk accounts, such as online banking, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). The great benefit of 2FA is that it prevents hackers from accessing your account without the second verification factor, even if they manage to steal your password. It offers an extra defense that greatly lowers the possibility of unwanted entry. Multiple online services, such as email accounts, social networking, online banking, and others, support 2FA. A quick and simple way to safeguard your sensitive data and defend yourself against online dangers is to enable 2FA. It’s a preventative strategy that gives your online presence an additional line of defense.

Be Aware of Phishing Schemes

A phishing message pretending to be sent from the University.

Phishing in particular is a growing form of cybercrime. Be wary of emails that falsely claim to be from someone else in order to obtain private information. Don’t react to emails from strangers or disclose too much personal information online. Keep an eye out for fraudsters who act as friends on social networking platforms in order to take advantage of personal emergencies. These safety measures can help you protect yourself from potential online dangers.

 
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Harper Stewart

With a deep understanding of the complexities of the Dark Web, Harper curates informative and thought-provoking content for our readers. Her knowledge of the hidden corners of the internet and cybersecurity helps shed light on the often mysterious and illicit activities that take place in this realm.