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I received an email this morning stating that a company outside our school had been affected by a data breach. The identities of school employees were exposed, along with their social security numbers. This is not the first data breach that has affected school employees.
Employees are given “identity theft protection” services free of charge, as is now the norm in these cases. I have six of these services free of charge due to security breaches in the past. Today’s offer includes credit monitoring up to 2023, a million dollar insurance reimbursement policy, as well as “fully managed identity theft Recovery Services” (whatever that may be).
This protection service also includes “cyberscan darkness web monitoring.” I also claim that they constantly scan the “dark internet” to identify if my data has been used by attackers.
What is the “dark Web”?
What are these services scanning my data for? Is this really an added layer of protection?
The Internet is an international network made up of thousands of computer networks that connect billions of devices. The World Wide Web (or simply “web”) is a way to access information via the Internet. Although there are many ways to access the internet (email and FTP are two examples), the web is the most popular and easiest. Anyone can access the web from any device with a web browser. You can find information by entering the URL of the site (e.g. www.cengage.com). If you don’t know where it is, you can search for it using a search engine such as Google. This search engine continuously searches the web looking for content and indexes what it finds. Search engines use web crawlers to follow hyperlinks via known protocol port numbers. It’s very simple.
It is more than you realize.
Some websites do not want their content to appear in search engines’ indexes. A website that has user data in private databases may not want this information searchable by search engines. A site’s webmaster can take several steps to prevent their information being found by search engine crawlers. :
A site that requires username and password can prevent a web crawler from accessing it.
Sites may use the robots exclusion rule, which communicates with the web crawler to tell it which areas should be ignored.
Sites can also use CAPTCHAs for scanning prevention.
These sites could be considered another “level” in the web. These sites are known as the “deep web” and sites that are not easily discovered by web crawlers of search engines are called the “surface internet.”
There is another level to the web. It’s known as the “dark web”.
The dark web is often associated with criminal activity. You can order drugs, guns, or steal credit card numbers from them. According to some estimates, almost two-thirds (or more) of all dark web sites are involved with illegal activity.
However, accessing the dark web and viewing its contents requires more than opening a web browser and using dark web search engines.
First, you need to use Tor to anonymize your web browser and access the dark web. Tor routes your requests through a network of proxy servers that are operated by thousands of volunteers around the world. This prevents your IP address from being traced back.
Second, even though there are dark web search engines, they are not like Google. The dark web search engines can be slow and inaccurate. One reason is that merchants who sell stolen card numbers and drugs are always on the run. Their dark web sites suddenly disappear without warning. Third, dark web sites use a naming structure that results in dark web site URLs looking like “p6f47s5p3dq3qkd.onion.” All of these are hurdles to keep out anyone who does not understand these inner workings.
Is “cyberscan dark Web monitoring” really a way for these protection services to find out if my stolen information is on dark web?
The dark web is not searchable with standard web browsers so claims that protection services can monitor it should be questioned. One service claims they monitor “Internet forums, websites, IRC channels and hidden and anonymous web services, malware, botnets and torrent sources.”
What is the Dark Web?
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