Dark Web Dangers
Recently the dark web has become more prominent on mainstream media. In the most basic terms, the dark web is not publicly accessible, whereas the internet we all know and love can easily be accessed via Google or a simple web address. Keeping your private information clear of the internet, dark web or not, is generally a good idea.
When it comes to the dark web, a special internet browser and/or other software is required, often in addition to login credentials. You might be wondering, “What’s so special about the dark web then?”
Unfortunately, the answer is that there are things that criminals don’t want normal people like you and me to see. The world has always been a dangerous place, and people with bad intentions have simply taken their criminal activity online. As an online user, you too are a target.
Info for Bitcoin
The once spotty coverage of the dark web has become a popular topic because of Bitcoin, which has greatly bolstered the online black market of buying and selling things. Bitcoin can be purchased with real money, but people often go through indirect channels to obtain Bitcoins for the sake of anonymity.
Bitcoin offers an alternative to government issued currency or credit cards linked to a name and address. Criminals like Bitcoin because it is very hard to track and easy to exchange. Big news outlets focus on things like drugs and explicit content being exchanged for large sums, but these same outlets often don’t bother covering information brokers.
Information brokers collect, buy, and sell information that is publicly and privately available. On the dark web, information brokers can break the law and use any means necessary to achieve their goals. In the digital age, there’s less of a need to hire a private detective to take photographs, copy documents, and thumb through phonebooks. Online snoops simply use their computers to copy information available on Google, Facebook, and obscure websites that for some reason or another, have a bunch of personal information on people like you.
Buying and selling information isn’t exciting, therefore mainstream media outlets don’t shine a light on it. But if your information is being traded by information brokers, then you’re in trouble. If someone’s willing to pay money for information about you online, then they’re most likely buying it to exploit you in some shape or form.
Big data isn’t just a buzzword
According to the Federal Trade Commission, data brokers typically collect, maintain, manipulate, and share a wide variety of information about consumers without interacting directly with them. Posting information online publicly is the easiest way for data brokers to collect personal information. Unfortunately, there are also numerous other ways for data brokers to collect information.
Whether you shop online or offline, the store is probably selling your information to a business partner. Have you ever looked for a product online, and then you suddenly see ads for the same product on every website you visit afterward? That’s because your information has been handed off somewhere along the way. Grocery stores with loyalty cards and such will also sell your information to third parties. If you have ever wondered why junk mail still exists, it’s because someone sold your personal information (home address, email, etc.) and someone else bought it. This is the mildest thing someone can do with your personal information however.
If your credit card number is stolen, the criminal activity may be minor but consistent. Maybe someone signs up for a premium online service that’s only a few bucks every month. Maybe they buy small things here and there for themselves. A few dollars every month eventually racks up – you wouldn’t let someone take $100 from your wallet, would you? Just because someone is stealing a few dollars at a time, it doesn’t mean that the theft is insignificant. If your credit card information is sold once, then it can be sold twice – unlike physical goods, digital information can be repeatedly sold to the highest bidder.
Hacked and blackmailed
It’s one thing to have your social media account hacked, but it’s a completely different ballgame if it’s hacked and then you’re blackmailed. Information brokers might not be hackers, but if hackers buy your information, then they can take your personal information and seriously hurt you. The name of this game is called ransomware, and the stakes are incredibly high. You definitely don’t want to be involved.
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) defines ransomware as a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. For hackers already armed with your personal information, getting into your computer and installing such ransomware probably wouldn’t be too hard. Ransomware can be devastating to an individual or an organization.
There are plenty of stories where people break a phone and lose everything, but life goes on without too much worry for them. Computers on the other hand, especially desktop computers that are years-old, are generally more valuable due to the irreplaceable data stored within. There are countless movies about a human being held hostage, but what if your work computer with thousands of financial spreadsheets was suddenly held hostage? It would be exciting to watch, but horrible to experience. Don’t let information brokers and hackers scrape your information from Google without putting up a fight.
Staying clear of the dark
You should keep yourself clean from dirty criminals trying to sully your good name. Your internet identity should only display information that you want publicly available. Too much is never a good thing, especially when it comes to the World Wide Web.
Wiperts can help keep your private information private while maintaining your public presence online. The professionals at Wiperts believe in information security and take your privacy seriously. In a world where privacy has become a commodity, it is more important than ever to value it. Don’t be a victim of the dark web.