*Originally published on October 25, 2017. Updated on April 7, 2020.*
Did you know that when you search the internet, you’re only seeing 4% of the web? The internet is multi-layered, deep, and complex. The “Surface Web” is the area most of us spend our time — using social media sites, online shopping, reading news feeds, and visiting business, informational, and entertainment websites.
The other 96% of the internet is called the “Deep Web,” and that is where protected information lives — like tax data and medical records, or government and academic information. The Deep Web is full of data that won’t appear through regular internet browsing but is accessible from within a protected or internal site, such as your personal bank account information when you log in to an online banking site, or your business emails when you log into your company’s email system.
However, there’s an area of the web that is unindexed and difficult to access. It’s also very popular for purchasing illegal contraband including hacked databases. This is known as the “Dark Web.”
Your Stolen Identity Lives on the Dark Web
When a data breach occurs the stolen data often ends up on the Dark Web — the black market of the internet where cyberthieves buy and sell this information for profit. The Dark Web is an encrypted part of the Deep Web, which requires specific dark web browsers to reach, and can keep anyone and anything invisible, private, and anonymous.
In the Dark Web, there are no regulations or protection. Although not everyone is using the Dark Web to engage in illegal activities, it has a history of also being leveraged as a platform for political dissidents and corporate whistleblowers.
As of 2019, there are over 620 million accounts for sale on the Dark Web, all stolen from 16 websites that were breached in 2018. Purchases for this data and other illegal items are made using Bitcoins, and cybercriminals spent upwards of $1 billion dollars of Bitcoins in 2019.
And, if you are curious about what the Dark Web looks like, here’s a screenshot of one store that trades personal information records – with phone numbers, addresses, date of birth, gender, the dollar amount of loan requested, and emails – all for about $2 a record.
Do you know how much your identity is worth to fraudsters on the Dark Web? You might be surprised at what the going rate is for different identity elements.
- VISA card number…$7
- Social media login…$129
- A Social Security number…$200
- A business email account…$500
- An adult’s complete identity with a high credit score…$1,200
Bundles containing children’s identities stolen from pediatricians’ offices – including Social Security number and health insurance information – has been posted for sale on the dark web for $300 in bitcoin, or about $90,000 in U.S. dollars at the time.
The value of our Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to fraudsters is determined by how plentiful the data is, and how valuable it can be long-term, including reselling of the stolen information to other criminals on the Dark Web in the future.
Identity Monitoring for the Dark Web
When your PII is obtained by an identity thief, it can have a severe negative effect on your finances, your livelihood, and your good name — not to mention the impact on your family — and the resulting stress, financial loss, and time spent trying to recover from such a crime can be overwhelming.
It’s such a distraction for a person to be faced with identity theft. It’s an emotional burden as well as a huge disruption to your life, with time spent away from the office to restore your good name.
Unfortunately, once your personal information is exposed on the Dark Web, it remains there indefinitely. There is no service that can scrub your data from the Dark Web, and the longer it is there the more damage it may cause.
At IdentityForce, we have key capabilities built to rapidly uncover if a member’s identity is being bought and sold on the Dark Web. We do this by offering:
- 24/7 Monitoring | Continuous scouring of thousands of websites, chat rooms, blogs and other data sources to detect illegal trading and selling of your personal information.
- Proactive Dark Web ID Theft Detection | Running comprehensive scans, across unindexed sites frequented by hackers and cybercriminals, to detect if any of your personal information (which may include social security number, driver’s license, mother’s maiden name, phone number, email addresses, bank account and routing numbers, credit and debit card numbers and medical identification numbers) appears.
- Anywhere, Anytime Visibility | From our mobile app, our members can review their financial and personal information so that they can spot fraud quickly and stay on top of their key financial account activity. Members using IdentityForce Mobile also have visibility into their personal account information and whether there is any dark web activity, plus the power of mobile threat protection through Mobile Attack Control™, which monitors and alerts IdentityForce Mobile App users to a wide array of threats including rogue apps, spyware, unsecured Wi-Fi connections, and even recognizes fake or “spoof” networks.
- Rapid and Smart Notifications | Alerting you rapidly of any suspected fraud and providing you with actionable next steps.
Learn more about what happens to Personally Identifiable Information after a breach, and how IdentityForce can help you, your family, your employees, and your customers protect what matters most. You can also view our 2-minute video below that will provide you with additional insight into how IdentityForce’s award-winning identity theft protection works.