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Dark Web Monitoring: How to Protect Your Information

Date Published:  May 4th, 2021Date Updated:  October 24, 2023

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The dark web: a mysterious realm, often referred to as the internet’s underbelly. While it sounds like a plot for a thriller, it poses genuine risks to personal data — including yours.

But how does your private information get on the dark web? What is it? And how can you protect yourself from online criminals? In this blog post, we’ll dive into the unknown and explore ways of navigating your safety online and off.

Deep web vs. Dark web

Before we try to define the dark web, we should first clarify a few misconceptions and myths.

Myth 1: The deep web and the dark web are the same thing

Though you often hear these phrases lumped together, the deep web and the dark web are not interchangeable. The internet is layered. The surface web is what you access daily – Google, Facebook, news websites. Beneath this lies the deep web, hosting private databases, online banking, and services that require authentication and logins. Dive deeper, and you find the dark web, encrypted and intentionally hidden, often associated with illicit activities.

Myth 2: Everything on the dark web is illegal

While it’s true that the dark web is a hotspot for illicit activities, it’s also a platform for journalists in oppressive regimes, whistleblowers, and activists to communicate without the fear of retribution.

Myth 3: Accessing the dark web is illegal

Accessing the dark web itself isn’t illegal, but what you do there can be. Buying illegal items or engaging in prohibited activities is where users run afoul of the law.

Myth 4: You’re completely anonymous on the dark web

While the dark web does offer more anonymity than the surface web, it isn’t absolute. Skilled individuals or organizations with the right tools can potentially trace users.

Myth 5: The dark web is too complicated for the average person

With the right tools, like the Tor browser, accessing the dark web is as simple as browsing the surface web. However, navigating it safely and understanding its intricacies can be complex.

Myth 6: Dark web and info on dark web are the same

Many believe searching for “info on dark web” would lead them directly to the dark web. In reality, genuine dark web pages cannot be accessed by traditional search engines, but the search might yield articles or surface web content about the dark web.

Now, understanding these misconceptions can help you grasp the importance of dark web protection. Your information might be at risk due to the myriad of dark web identity theft schemes lurking in those encrypted corners.

But how do these dark web marketplaces effect you?

Dangers of the dark web

In 2013, the dark web came into the limelight when the FBI shut down the Silk Road, an online black market. The incident ignited curiosity but left many with a singular piece of advice: “avoid it.” While that’s sage counsel, understanding this corner of the internet is essential, especially as personal data breaches become increasingly frequent.

Ranging from stolen merchandise to illegal substances, the dark web is a hub for buying and selling. But how do these dark web marketplaces effect you? Two words: stolen data. From credit card details to email accounts to social security numbers, if your information finds its way here, it’s open to the highest bidder. This market reached $341.7 million in 2021 alone.

In 2022, Tor, a browser designed for user anonymity and commonly associated with accessing the dark web, reported there were more than 2.5 million daily dark web visitors. The dark web has benefits for journalists, whistleblowers, and individuals opposing oppressive governments. However, a significant portion of its usage involves illegal activities — about 56.8%, according to ResearchGate.

Is your information on the dark web?

Realizing your personal information on the dark web is similar to discovering that someone has burgled your house, opened a credit card in your name, or stolen your ID. It’s unsettling, knowing someone might be misusing your identity.

But how do people typically discover that their personal data is compromised?

  • Unexpected financial transactions: One of the immediate red flags is spotting unauthorized purchases or withdrawals from your bank accounts or credit cards. Cybercriminals often use stolen information for financial gains.
  • Alerts from financial institutions: Many banks and credit companies offer fraud alert services. They can notify you if suspicious activities are linked to your accounts. These might be sign-up verifications or transactions you haven’t authorized.
  • Failed login attempts: Notifications about unsuccessful login attempts for your emails, social media accounts, or other online services might indicate someone is trying to access your information.
  • Dark web monitoring services: Tools like EarthLink Protect and Protect+ actively scan the dark corners of the internet for your personal data. They can notify you if your information, such as SSN or email addresses, appears on dark web marketplaces.
  • Data breach notifications: In events of large-scale data breaches, companies are often legally required to notify affected individuals. If your email address, password, or other personal details were part of a breach, you’d typically be informed.
  • Unexpected emails or messages: Receiving unexpected verification emails, password reset links, or other communication can hint at someone using your identity for sign-ups or other online activities.

Once you have indications or confirmations that your data is on the dark web, it’s time to take action.

Stepping up your digital game goes beyond being vigilant about suspicious emails.

Protecting your info on the dark web

Dark web identity theft is a serious threat. Stepping up your digital game goes beyond being vigilant about suspicious emails. It’s about adopting cybersecurity best practices, from ensuring secure online transactions to managing your digital footprint carefully.

  • Secure transactions: Use encrypted platforms and avoid public Wi-Fi when performing financial transactions.
  • Password prowess: With hacks becoming sophisticated, your pet’s name won’t make the cut as a secure password. Use a concoction of uppercase, lowercase, numerals, and symbols. Make sure to update your login credentials regularly.
  • Virtual shield: Using VPNs, like Norton Secure VPN offered by EarthLink, not only masks your online activity but also ensures data you send or receive is encrypted. That way, your private information is safe and sound.
  • Enlist dark web monitoring: One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from bad actors is dark web protection. Services like EarthLink Protect and Protect+ give you peace of mind, constant dark web monitoring, secure VPN, real-time threat protection and more.

If your information is found on the dark web

So, the unspeakable happened. Your details are floating around the dark web. What now?

You might be hoping there’s a way to remove your information from the dark web. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible. Finding your login credentials or SSN on the dark web doesn’t necessarily mean it has been used for identity theft. The best course of action is for you to heighten your security.

  • Update and diversify: Change passwords immediately for any accounts that may have been exposed. Ensure they’re unique across accounts.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication: While you’re updating your passwords, be sure to enable two-factor authentication. That way, if your passwords are still compromised, criminals will have a harder time gaining access.
  • Monitor financials and contact your bank: Keep an eye out for unauthorized transactions. If someone gets your credit card numbers, tell your bank to freeze your account and send you a new card. If any financial information is exposed, it’s best to contact your bank for the next course of action.
  • Notify creditors of potential fraud: Call any of the nationwide credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, or Transunion – and place a fraud alert on your credit report. By “freezing” your credit, you can keep bad actors from opening accounts or committing fraud using your credit. If you need to make a large purchase like a home or car, or even apply for a credit card, you can unfreeze your credit completely or for a limited period.
  • Contact authorities: If sensitive info like SSN is compromised, it’s crucial to report it.

Get dark web protection with EarthLink

Your online safety is no light matter. EarthLink understands this, offering two comprehensive packages that ensure consistent cybersecurity efforts. EarthLink Protect, starting at just $7.95/month, provides robust basics, from dark web monitoring to parental controls.

For those seeking an all-encompassing fortress, Protect+ at $9.95/month offers advanced features like an identity fraud alert system and reimbursement for funds stolen.

Take advantage of EarthLink’s 30-day free trial and get cybersecurity instantly.


In this age, the saying “better safe than sorry” has never been more relevant. The dark web, though elusive, poses tangible threats, making proactive protection essential.

With EarthLink’s offerings, rest assured, your digital life remains uncompromised. Ready to guard up? Call our internet experts to get dark web protection today.

Call 833-957-0229 today!

Maddy Hogan

Maddy Hogan

Maddy Hogan, a copywriter for EarthLink, is a New Englander by birth, raised in the South, and a Hoosier at heart. A graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington's Media School, she brings her unique voice and insights to publications like The Island Packet, The Cherokee Tribune, The Atlanta Business Chronicle, and The Marietta Daily Journal. When she's not writing, Maddy is passionate about traveling, art, reading, movies, well-timed memes, and her two kitties.

See all posts from Maddy Hogan.