SafeWeb Knowledge Base

All you need to know about the dark web and your data

Welcome to the SafeWeb Knowledge Base

Our Knowledge Base is here to help shine a light on the dark web. Read on to learn about the risks
Associated with the dark web and what a data breach could mean for your personal information.

Knowledge Base FAQs

What is the dark web?

The World Wide Web is made up of three main areas:

  1. The surface web – open-access web pages indexed by search engines such as Google, Safari and Chrome. This is the part of the web most of us are familiar with.
  2. The deep web – (also called the invisible web or hidden web) is much larger and contains pages such as password-protected webmail, internet banking or any sort of forum that requires registration for viewing.
  3. The dark web – an area of the internet that you can’t access from regular search engines. People tend to use it to keep their identity and activity anonymous and many buy and sell data on this concealed space.

Recent statistics estimate that the surface web makes up around 5% of the overall internet; the dark web also takes up around 5%, and the deep web makes up the remaining 90%.

Why might my data be at risk on the dark web?

If personal information, such as your phone number, bank details, and email address, ends up on the dark web, cyber criminals may be able to get hold of it. And if this happens, you could be at the receiving end of phishing emails and other scams, or fraudulent activity. There’s a chance somebody may use your information to access your bank account or hack your social media and other accounts.

If the dark web enables criminal activity, why isn’t it closed down?

It’s worth noting that the dark web isn’t always bad.

The dark web has a reputation for being rife with criminal activity. Most people associate it with identity fraud and the selling of illegal products. This is indeed the negative side of the dark web — the anonymity and high level of privacy enables such activity to take place.

However, this anonymity can also be beneficial in certain contexts. For individuals living under oppressive regimes that block free internet usage or punish political dissent, the dark web can be a lifeline. It’s also a critical whistle-blowing and communication tool that shields people from retribution in the workplace. Did you know that most major newspapers use the dark web for this reason?

What is a data breach and what should I do?

A data breach is a security incident whereby somebody accesses your information without permission. Breached personal data, including bank details, can lead to identity fraud which can cause a great deal of stress alongside financial loss.

When a data breach is detected, it’s vital to take action as soon as possible to protect yourself against criminal activity. Depending on the type of information that has been breached (for instance, email password or credit card details), the action you need to take will differ.

Read our support page for more information on what to do about breached personal information.

Is a data breach the same as a data leak?

People often use the terms ‘data breach’ and ‘data leak’ interchangeably. However, while both refer to somebody having unauthorised access to sensitive information, there’s one big difference. It’s all to do with intent — a data breach is deliberate. A cybercriminal will set out with the goal to steal information. A data leak, on the other hand, can be accidental. Sometimes, a data leak may be due to weak security protocols.

Either way, both breaches and leaks can put your information at risk of ending up on the dark web.

How long do I have to report a data breach?

After receiving a data breach notification, you have 72 hours to report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office (IC). Try to do so as soon as possible once you have been made aware of the breach. If you leave it longer than 72 hours, you’ll need to give the ICO a reason for your delay.

Don’t worry if you can’t fully investigate the breach and gather all the details in 72 hours. If you have all the information to hand immediately, that’s preferable. However, if necessary, you can submit the information in phases. Just ensure you make the initial report in that timeframe and let the ICO know when you expect to submit the rest.

What are the potential data breach consequences for my information?

The consequences of a personal data breach can vary, depending on the type of information that ends up on the dark web.

If the breach isn’t dealt with quickly and efficiently, you could be at risk of an array of issues including:

– Financial loss
– Identity theft or fraud
– Loss of personal data
– Limited access to your data
– Reputation damage

Reporting your data breach right away can help limit any damage.

How will Dark Web Monitoring help me protect my data?

Knowledge is power — knowing if your personal data has been breached can give you the foresight to take action and mitigate risks.

Our SafeWeb Dark Web Monitoring tools perform enhanced searches of the dark web on a continuous basis, looking out for any of your sensitive data. We’ll keep an eye out for specific
data such as email addresses, personal records, domain records, credit card details, passwords and social account information. If any of your data is found on the dark web, you’ll receive a notification detailing what kind of information has been breached.

Once you’ve received your SafeWeb notification, you can take steps to manage the risk before it becomes serious. For example, if your financial data has been compromised, you can contact your bank to protect your account. Likewise, if passwords are found on the dark web, you can set up new ones.

Take action today to protect your data.

Take action today to protect your data.

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