The dark web is a hidden, and often anonymous, part of the internet. It isn’t indexed by regular search engines and requires special browser software to access it. Most people associate the dark web with illegal and unethical activities, like the buying and selling of illegal drugs, weapons, and stolen personal information.

The dark web provides a platform for anonymous communication and transactions, making it a popular destination for hackers, criminals, and individuals seeking to avoid government surveillance. While not all activity on the dark web is illegal, you should still be cautious of the risks associated with accessing this hidden part of the internet.

Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is the most commonly found personal information in this subsection of the web. This includes data such as your name, address, date of birth, social security or identity number, and other sensitive details that could be used to commit identity theft or fraud. Login credentials often accompany PII. Dark web marketplaces are a hub for buying and selling login credentials to websites which can include usernames and passwords, email addresses, and other login information.

The dark web is also known for trading stolen credit card information, bank account numbers, and online banking login credentials that can be used to commit fraud and other financial crimes.

It’s important to note that not all information available on the dark web is accurate or reliable, and most of it is obtained illegally. Personal information can end up on the dark web in several ways.

Data breaches can possibly be named as the top culprit when it comes to personal information being leaked. These occur when hackers gain unauthorized access to a company or organization’s database and steal sensitive information, such as names, addresses, social security or identity numbers, credit card numbers, and login credentials, which is often then sold on the dark web.

Another top contender is the use of phishing scams, which involve tricking people into giving away their personal information through fraudulent emails, phone calls, or websites. The information collected through these scams can be sold on the dark web.

Malware attacks can also provide hackers with personal information. This involves infecting a computer or device with malicious software that can steal personal information, such as keystroke loggers that capture passwords and other sensitive data. Malware can be installed almost anonymously by clicking on infected ads or unsecure web links.

It can be difficult to know for certain whether your personal information is on the dark web, however, there are some steps you can take to check if your information has been compromised.  There are several websites, such as Have I Been Pwned, where you can enter your email address or other personal information to see if it has been involved in any known data breaches.

Identity monitoring services, such as LifeLock (paid) or Experian IdentityWorks (free and paid options), can help monitor your personal information and alert you if there is any suspicious activity or if your information is found on the dark web. However, you should still regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity, which could be a sign that your information has been compromised.

If you suspect that your information may have been compromised, change your passwords immediately for all online accounts, and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.

Remember that prevention is always better than cure, and is the best defence against identity theft and other types of cybercrime. It’s crucial to be cautious with your personal information and take steps to protect it, such as using strong passwords, being wary of suspicious emails or links, and regularly monitoring your financial statements. If you suspect that your personal information has been compromised, it’s important to act immediately to mitigate any potential damage.