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  • Writer's pictureTara Grey

What Is the Dark Web and Why Is It Dangerous?

This time of year, identify theft is prevalent due to all the online holiday shopping. 2020 is going to be particularly fraught with danger because of COVID-19 causing even more people to shop online than ever and the scammers taking advantage of this activity.

Cybercrime has already been up this year, with the FBI reporting an increase in complaints of 400% since the pandemic first began. This means that there is an increased need to be vigilant with smartphone, tablet, and computer security protections when shopping from the comfort of your home.

If you’ve ever seen an identity theft commercial on TV or online, you’ve most likely heard the term “Dark Web.” It will often be referred to as the place that criminals can get a hold of your credit card details, SSN, and other personal information.

But what is the Dark Web, exactly?

If you think of the internet as layers, the normal internet that we all visit every day when going online would be the top layer. You enter a web address into your browser and are taken to sites like Amazon, Google, or Facebook.

Now, imagine that beneath that first layer of the internet is another layer that’s hidden and can’t be visited by normal browsers. This second layer is the Dark Web.

Where Is the Dark Web?

The Dark Web exists online like the standard internet, but it uses different rules to see it. It’s designed to be hard to find and to fly “under the radar” of law enforcement so it can be used for things that would normally get a site banned on the standard public internet.

Instead of, .net, or another common web address, the Dark Web uses .onion at the end of site addresses. And you can’t reach these sites in Chrome, Safari, Edge, or another normal browser. They can only be reached using a special browser meant specifically for the Dark Web.

Additionally, sites will have harder to remember URLs because they’re designed to be harder to locate.

What Do People Do On the Dark Web?

Why go through the trouble of having an entirely separate internet system? Mostly, to commit crimes or deal in prohibited goods. While not every single site on the Dark Web is criminal, the large majority of them are designed for some type of nefarious activity.

The Dark Web is used widely to buy and sell things like credit card numbers, drugs, personal information, passwords, and the like. These are things that would get someone arrested or shut down if they tried to sell them on the standard public internet.

If you happen to be a Harry Potter fan, you can think of the standard internet as Diagon Alley, and the Dark Web as Knockturn Alley, where no decent wizard shops!

The Dark Web is specifically designed to act as a trading place for things that are not typically legal to sell and is hidden to make it harder for law enforcement agencies to find.

How Does My Information Get to the Dark Web?

In just about every identify theft product commercial, they talk about your personal information being “for sale on the Dark Web.” So, how does it get there?

There are several different ways that your name, phone number, credit card information, and more can end up selling to the highest bidder on the Dark Web. What happens is that a hacker gets their hands on the data and then sells it in an online marketplace, something like a Dark Web version of eBay.

Here are the two most common ways your information gets compromised.

Data Breach of a Retailer

When you shop online, the retailer you purchase from will have your personal information and credit card details in their database. Reliable retailers will encrypt these details and take efforts to keep them secure. Such as keeping your credit card number in a different database than the card’s expiration date.

But even large retailers can get breached, which means a hacker breaks into a database and steals all that customer information.

Recent breaches include retailers like Target, Macy’s, and Walgreens.

Malware On Your Device

Many forms of malware contain things like banking trojans, spyware, and password dumpers, which are all designed to steal your personal information or login details for various sites.

If you click on a phishing email or popup ad on the internet that contains malware, a hacker could be in your system stealing personal information without you even knowing about it. That’s why it’s always a good idea to do a regular malware scan of your computer.

Are Your Computer, Mobile Device & Browser Properly Secure?

There are certain protections that can be put in place on your computer, mobile device, and internet browser that can help keep your personal information more secure. Schedule a security session with CompuTara and shop safely!

Schedule your security session today! Call me at: 862-368-4893 or Email me here.


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