Is my email address on the dark web?

March 22, 2018

You may have seen advertisements or gotten emails from companies like Experian are offering a free dark web scan to see if your email address is on the dark web. We would like to educate you on what this really means.

The name dark web sounds ominous. Like using the name “dark one” to refer to Satan, the name dark web conjures up images of fire and evil. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The dark web is much like the web you know. The only difference is that it is only accessible using special software that allows users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.

Now that we understand what the dark web is, what are the chances that your email address is on the dark web? Actually, very good. The vast majority of people’s email address is on the dark web. Only people who have done very little on the web are not there. Chances are very good that your email address is on the dark web. Pretty much all of my email addresses are on the dark web.

How did your email address get on the dark web? Hackers hack servers and steal information and then sell it on the dark web. This type of information is purchased by spammers and identity thieves. Your information can get onto the dark web in other ways too, but that’s the primary way. If you ever watch or read the news, you’ve heard about website breaches. Yahoo, Dropbox, Adobe, LinkedIn, Equifax, Uber, AOL, Ameritrade, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Citigroup, Compass Bank, eBay, Facebook, Gmail, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, NASDAQ, Neiman Marcus, Texas Attorney General, Scottrade, SnapChat, Sony, Starbucks, Starwood Hotels, TJ Maxx, Twitter, U.S. Army, Walmart, Verizon, and Wendy’s just to name a few better-known websites and companies. In reading this list, you can see why most people’s email address is on the dark web. This is but a tiny sampling. The list is huge. And that’s just the ones we know about. Many companies keep it a secret when they get hacked.

You are probably asking, “If my email address is on the dark web, what does that mean for me?”.
If your email address is on the dark web, you are going to receive more spam than an email address that is not on the dark web. In addition, it’s more likely that a hacker is going to try and hack your email account. That’s pretty much it. Companies like Experian are using the scary phrase “Dark Web” to try and scare you into purchasing their identity theft protection. Don’t fall for it. It’s nothing more than a ploy to try and scare you into signing up for their services.

Our advice? Don’t bother with these dark web scans. Assume your email address is on the dark web (because it probably is) and follow the guidelines below to protect yourself.

  1. Make sure you have a good, complex password.
    For our recommended password guidelines: Click here to read our password article on our website.
  2. Turn on 2-step verification for your email account.
    For more information about this, click here to check out step three in this article on our website.
  3. Keep your computer safe and secure by doing the following:
    1. Keep Windows up-to-date
    2. Use one of our recommended security products (or Sign up for our SAM plan).
    3. Don’t let your security software expire or get out-of-date.
    4. Keep security sensitive programs updated. These include Java, Flash, Reader, Skype, and many more.
  4. Be careful what you open and what you click on.
    When in doubt, shoot us an email and ask us. If you get an email you are suspicious of, forward it to us and ask us to check it.
  5. Don’t fall for scams. The internet is chock full of scams and scammers will be calling you, if they haven’t already. When you search for a website or phone number on the web, you’ll probably get several fake ones at the top before finding the real one.

We sincerely hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

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