Experian and many other companies promote websites that promise to search the Dark Web for your personal information to see if criminals have it for sale. Do not waste your money unjustly.
What is the Dark Web?
The "Dark Web" consists of hidden websites that you do not have access to without any special software. These sites do not appear on Google or any other search engine and you will not be able to access them unless you use the appropriate tools.
For example, software Tor can be used for anonymous web browsing, but it also hides special sites known as ".onion sites" or "hidden Tor services". These sites use Tor to hide their location, and you can only access them through the Tor network.
There are legitimate uses for Tor's covert services. For example, Facebook also has a Tor .onion website at facebookcorewwwi.onion, which can only be accessed from the Tor network. This allows people from countries where Facebook has been denied access to the social network. The DuckDuckGo search engine is also available in a hidden Tor address. This could also help prevent some government censorship.
But the Dark Web is also used for criminal activities. If you want to sell credit card databases and social security numbers online, it is only natural that you want to hide your location so that the authorities will not find you.
That's why criminals often use the Dark Web to sell data. It's the same reason why the famous site Silk Road, an online black market for drugs and other illegal stuff, was only available through Tor.
They do not scan the entire Dark Web
Let me clarify one thing: These services do not scan the entire Dark Web for your data. This is impossible.
There are 1.208.925.819.614.629.174.706.176 possible web page addresses in the dark web, and these are just Tor .onion sites. It would not be possible to check everyone to see if they are online and then search for your data.
Even if these services were scanning the dark web, they would not be able to see exclusive content anyway. These contents are exchanged privately and are not made public.
So what does Dark Web Scan do?
No company offering Dark Web Scan will tell you what they do, but we can certainly make a guess. These companies collect data that is published on popular sites on the Dark Web.
When we say "data dumps", we are referring to large databases of usernames and passwords - as well as other personal information, such as social security numbers and credit card information - that are stolen from compromised websites and circulated on the Internet.
Instead of scanning the Dark Web, they scan leaked lists and personal information, which, of course, are often found on the Dark Web. They will then let you know if your personal information is on one of the lists they could access.
However, even if a Dark Web Scan says you are OK, you may not be. They only search for available leaks that they have access to. They can't scan everything.
How to track data breaches for free
But in addition to the Dark Web Scan ad campaign, there is a very useful service that is free.
The Have I Been Pwned? Troy Hunt will tell you if your email address or password appears in one of the 322 leaked databases. It may even notify you when your email address appears in a new database.
Your data has already been stolen
You may still think that a Dark Web Scan could be useful. You probably think your data has been leaked. It may be true.
There have been many other leaks and we are only talking about data breaches that have been reported publicly.
Freeze your cards, it's free
If you are very worried, freeze your credit cards, and change the passwords for each service you use. Unique passwords are saved, and because you will not remember them, use a password manager (KeePass).
Freeze your credit cards and skip the dark web scan, it's free and they won't fool you.