Have you been seeing those “Free Dark Web Scan” ads online? You may have been tempted to click it to see if your personal data is being sold on the dark web but stopped, wondering if it was legit.
The digital age has brought with it the unfortunate risk of identity theft with hackers around every virtual corner just trying to get you to click on a malicious link. And this has also encouraged both legitimate and less than legitimate software ads promising to help protect you.
Pro Tech Guy is often called to help clients in the Framingham, MA and Metrowest area with an urgent virus or malware removal. Even the most diligent computer user can get fooled into downloading a dangerous script by a well-crafted phishing email. Many of our clients ask us about dark web scans and if they really are helpful or not.
Read on to get the facts about those dark web scans and whether they really do what they say.
Are Dark Web Scans Safe or Necessary?
To understand exactly what a dark web scan does, let first discuss the dark web and how it differs from the internet you use every day.
The dark web is like the “back alley” of the internet, it’s designed to be hard to find and can’t be accessed from normal browsers. It’s pages also aren’t indexed in the typical search engines used online, like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
Websites on the dark web, also known as Darknet, are only accessible through a special platform like Tor or I2P. The clandestine nature of the dark web attracts cybercriminals and hackers from around the world who use it to do illicit business.
Just like online shopping is big on the main (non-dark) web, it’s big on the dark web too, but for very different types of products and services.
Hiring someone to steal payment data starts at $270 on the dark web.
Some of the illegal products and services that are popular on the dark web include:
Malware (ransomware, spyware, viruses, etc.)
Exploits (for known and zero-day vulnerabilities)
Data (personal, accounting, payment, etc.)
Access (passwords for websites or servers)
The sale of your personal data is what those free dark web scans are targeting by telling you they’ll check to see if personal information happens to be up for sale on the dark web and let you know if it is.
What Does a Dark Web Scan Do?
One of the initial dangers of clicking to one of those dark web scan ads is that the ad may or may not be legitimate. Often hackers disguise their malware beneath an ad offering help for viruses or identity theft protection. So you need to be very wary.
One of the legitimate companies that advertises dark web scans is Experian, and they offer a free one-time scan for your:
Social Security Number
So, do they actually scan the whole dark web for your personal data? Not quite.
They state that they search “over 600,000” web pages. If the dark web was even 25% as large as the indexed web, it would have over a billion web pages (that’s a lot more than 600,00). But it’s actually considered to be much larger than that.
According to internet research, there are approximately 4.5 billion websites indexed by search engines on our normal “surface” internet. The deep web, of which the dark web is a subset, is estimated to be as much as 500 times larger than the surface web. So that gives you an idea of how many sites could possibly be selling your data that aren’t included in a standard dark web scan.
How Helpful is a Dark Web Scan?
The main purpose of a free dark web scan looks to be a marketing tactic to get you to purchase other identity protection services, like monthly monitoring plans. The free scan itself has very limited benefit. If your data happens to be found on one of the small percentage of dark web sites scanned, then you can get a heads up to be on high alert for identify theft.
However, the free scan doesn’t include your credit card details, a hot commodity on the dark web, you’ll have to pay extra for that. And again, the scan is limited to a small part of the entire dark web.
Another caveat about these free dark web scanning services is that you have to give them some personal data in order for them to scan for it. So, you’re taking a chance of your data being stolen or breached for little, if any, benefit.
What’s a better thing to do? Get a managed antivirus plan that keeps you protected from virus infections and malware that can steal that data in the first place. You won’t have to worry about revealing your personal data to a questionable site and will have a local IT contact you can trust.
Want to Learn More about Pro Tech Guy’s Managed Antivirus?
Keep your devices and your data protected with an affordable managed antivirus plan. We use industry-proven software and ensure you’re covered for any online or phishing threats out there.
Learn more by calling 508-364-8189 or reach out online today!