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Steps reduce the risk of your data being sold on the dark web

If a site or a service asks you for sensitive data, ask tough questions about how the company secures it and what it will do if its data is breached.

Image: © Thomas Samson, AFP
Image: © Thomas Samson, AFP

More and more people are finding they are being sent spam emails and find that their online accounts are being compromised. The origin of many of these issues arises from information that has been stollen from larger companies, placed on the dark web, and then sold as chunks to criminal gangs.

According to cybersecurity expert Adrianus Warmenhoven of NordVPN: “The broad scope of the data offered on these criminal markets shows the importance of taking charge of your security and privacy online. Your cybersecurity is in your hands. If you know the risks and equip yourself with the right tools and information, you’ll maximize your chances of keeping yourself and your family secure.”

The dark web is massive and it contains billions of places to hide. What the average user sees as the ‘web’, only constitutes 4-6 percent of the whole web (what is referred to as the ‘surface web’). The remaining part of the WWW which is not indexed by a search engine like Google is the ‘dark’ or ‘Deep Web’ (or more precisely, the dark web is a subset of the deep web). This space is said to be 500-600 times larger than surface web.

While the dark web is mostly portrayed as a domain frequented by criminal elements, it is also used by other people who require privacy. Examples include the exchange of proprietary business information or communication by political activists. However, it is the actions of criminal gangs that receive the most coverage and which pose the greater risk to the typical person.

There are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of losing data to criminal entities. Warmenhoven recommends the following:

Make sites and services earn your trust

If a site or a service asks you for sensitive data, ask tough questions about how the company secures it and what it will do if its data is breached.

Educate yourself

You can be proactive and research ways to stay safe on the devices and services you use.

Stay vigilant

Learn how to react quickly and effectively when your sensitive data is used without your permission.

Monitor your accounts

Request weekly bank statements or activate transaction notifications on your app. Make use of tools offered by the sites or services you use.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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