What Is Dark Web Monitoring?

This post was originally published on August 28, 2017.

Dark web monitoring, also known as cyber monitoring, is an identity theft prevention product that enables you to monitor your identity information on the dark web, and receive notifications if your information is found online.

The dark web is seen as the underbelly of the Internet, is a shrouded area of the internet, hidden from search engines and only accessible with a special web browser. It also masks IP addresses, which essentially allows fraudsters to operate undetected to commit crimes, including identity theft.

Is My Information on the Dark Web?

Experian offers an identity theft protection product called IdentityWorks Premium, which includes Dark Web Surveillance for comprehensive dark web monitoring to protect you from the financial and reputational harm that can result from identity theft.

You can get this product for yourself and your family—so you can also check to see if your child's personal information on the dark web. Additionally, you can run a free dark web scan with Experian to see if your Social Security number, phone number or email is on the dark web.

What Types of Information Can Be Monitored by Experian's Dark Web Surveillance?

  • Social Security number
  • Email address
  • Passport number
  • Medical identification numbers
  • Bank account numbers
  • Phone numbers
  • Driver's license
  • Credit/debit cards
  • Retail/membership cards

Where Exactly Is Experian's Dark Web Monitoring Checking for My Information?

Experian's Dark Web Internet Surveillance monitors the depths of the web to identify activity associated with your identity with daily scans of over 600,000 web pages.

Once you provide the personal information you'd like to monitor, Dark Web Internet Surveillance searches through thousands of websites and millions of data points using a variety of data gathering techniques—including chat room monitoring, crawling/scraping, and forum extraction.

We Monitor Many Online Sources, Including:

  • Web pages
  • Blogs
  • Bulletin boards
  • Peer-to-peer sharing networks
  • Forums and chat rooms on the publicly accessible Internet and the dark web
  • Malware samples
  • Social media feeds
  • Web services, servers, and file transmissions

How Does Dark Web Surveillance Work?

You are in control of what information you want to be monitored on the dark web. For the information you choose to monitor, just enter the relevant details directly in your Experian Dark Web Surveillance account.

For all the information you choose to monitor, you will receive alerts via email and within your Experian account. If the information you receive in the alert is familiar to you, no additional action is needed. However, if you don't recognize the information, we will let you know the next steps you should take to ensure your identity is safe.

For example, if your email address is found on the dark web, you should change your password and also change the passwords for other accounts where you login with that email address.

What Types of Alerts Will I Receive with Experian IdentityWorks Premium?

  • Dark Web Internet Surveillance
  • Financial Account Takeover
  • Social Security Number Trace
  • National Change of Address
  • Court Records
  • Non-Credit Loans
  • Social Network
  • Sex Offender Registry
  • Identity Validation
  • Your social networks

You also have access to lock and unlock your Experian credit report via the website or app with Experian CreditLock. Also, if you add family ID theft protection, you can ensure your family is protected—up to two adults and 10 children.

What Is the Risk of ID Theft?

Identity theft takes many forms and is a growing issue for many people. The risk posed by identity theft is often financial but is also sometimes reputational. Additionally, victims of identity theft can spend large amounts of time restoring their identity and often have emotional impacts when dealing with it as well. Data breaches are also on the rise and identity theft is often a common outcome of these breaches.

According to Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of U.S. data breaches tracked in 2017 hit an all-time record high of 1,579, exposing nearly 179 million records.

If your information is stolen by an identity thief, many times, it is sold on the dark web. After a breach, identity thieves often use dark web sites to buy and sell consumer data, such as Social Security numbers, bank and credit card account numbers, and other personally identifying information.

Other criminals or criminal networks then buy this data and use it to commit fraud, such as creating synthetic identities, opening bank accounts and other malicious activities.

There is no expiration date on the value of most personal data stolen in a data breach, and your personal information can be exposed—and used by identity thieves—for years after a data breach.

In fact, some identity thieves anticipate breach fatigue and practice patience, waiting until the fear and anxiety of the moment have passed and consumers let down their guard and stop watching for the signs of fraud.

The lesson here is that although data breaches are not likely to stop any time soon, monitoring your online information can let you sleep a little better knowing you will be notified if you need to take action to prevent financial or reputational harm.