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Enhancing Cybersecurity: Google’s Free Dark Web Monitoring Service

10th Jul, 2024

With the increasing prevalence of high-profile data breaches, many of us worry about our personal information circulating in the dark web’s illicit markets. The dark web, a hidden part of the internet, poses significant risks, and keeping track of personal data exposure has become more challenging.

Say Goodbye to the Dark Web Bogeyman

Starting this month, Google introduces an important enhancement for its consumer account holders. Previously exclusive to Google One members, Google’s dark web monitoring service will now be available to all users. This service alerts individuals if their sensitive information, such as addresses, phone numbers, or emails, appears in dark web data dumps.

How to Get Started

To access this new feature, users should visit Google’s “Results about you” page. This page already allows users to receive alerts when their personal information appears in search results. With the new dark web monitoring addition, users will receive notifications via email or smartphone alerts if their data is detected on the dark web.

Why Bother with the Dark Web?

Navigating the dark web is neither simple nor advisable for most individuals. This segment of the internet is not indexed by search engines and requires specialised browsers for access. It is partly a marketplace where hackers sell stolen personal data, ranging from email addresses to full identities, for varying sums of money.

The Canary in the Coal Mine

Being notified that your information is on the dark web serves as an early warning system. It signals the need for immediate actions such as changing passwords, freezing credit, and taking other measures to protect against potential identity theft. While Google cannot remove data from hacker forums, this alert empowers users to proactively defend themselves.

A Glimpse at the Bigger Picture

Identity theft is on the rise, with alarming statistics. The Identity Theft Resource Centre’s 2023 report highlights a 118% increase in job scams on platforms like LinkedIn. Although job scams are increasingly common, Google Voice scams remain the most prevalent, accounting for 60% of reported identity crimes.

Fewer Victims, But Higher Stakes

Despite a lower overall number of victims, the impact of identity theft is more severe. Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of ITRC, notes that “Bad actors are more effective, efficient, and successful in launching attacks.” This efficiency results in fewer victims, but the consequences for individuals and businesses are more damaging.

Wrapping It Up

In an era where personal information is perpetually at risk, Google’s free dark web monitoring could offer a critical layer of defence. While it cannot prevent all cyber threats, this tool could provide a significant advantage in staying ahead of potential dangers.

Authors

Ian Hirst

Partner, Cyber Threat Services

Read Bio