Security

What to do if your email is found on the Dark Web

If your email is on the dark web it is quite possible that its password is leaked as well either in plain text or encrypted with some hash format.

The dark web is 99% of the Internet we can’t access from the browsers we’ve got. Regularly used by hackers and black hats, any information available out there is not safe. And if you are unfortunate enough to have your email exposed on the dark web, you need to be a little concerned.

Seriously? Yes, if any of your information, whether public or private, is listed on the dark web, it can damage your online privacy.

Emails are a major part of our online life as it is almost always used as a gateway to access several web services. These web services can include social media profiles to online bank accounts. Therefore, in the event you find your email address on the dark web, here’s what you need to do:

See: Dark Web hacker selling 126M accounts stolen from new data breaches

Step #1. Relax, Email is none of a SECRET!

Email IDs are hardly secret, you give it to any loyalty program you signup for. Relax, don’t panic about the email. The average person knowing your email can only fill up your spam folder. But, the bad guys rolling across the dark web can cause you problems so keep following the todos:

Step #2. SCAN Your Computer and secure your Browser

Scan your computer with an authentic antivirus to make sure it is not compromised and your data on the dark web was not stolen from your device. Remember, a computer is a basic gateway to access online services, scanning on a regular basis is mandatory.

Several third-party sites including the ones that share cracks and downloads that are illegal make use of trackers. Those trackers (on actions like signing up) can fetch browsers’ logs making your usernames and passwords vulnerable.

If you’re using an updated antivirus, just make sure that its Internet shield feature is on. That’s it. Move on to step #3:

Step #3. Change Your Password

As your email is available to all everyone out there – good and bad. They’re going to test your security through phishing and other vulnerability activities. Better change your password and keep a stronger one this time. By stronger, it means a combo of lower and uppercase letters, special symbols, etc or simply use a trustworthy password manager.

It is worth mentioning that in January of this year, hackers dumped 773 million records online containing emails and passwords in plain text format. Here is a list of the top 25 worst passwords of 2018.

Step #4. 2-Step Authentication

This is something that adds an unshakable shield to your email account. 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) allows logging in after verification via a contact number through text message or call. This is a great standard for security. A reminder, your email is public to hackers. Secure it as much as you can.

Step #5. Make a Garbage Email

You come into contact with a lot of online services that help you out in one way or other. Some of them are not to be trusted. For those services, a garbage email works great.

Furthermore, cybercriminals use dark web marketplaces to sell your emails and passwords which means if you’ve seen your Email on the dark web, it means your details are in wrong hands.

To avoid any more exposure of your email ID to the bad guys, a garbage email can save the headache. Create a temporary email and use that for signing up for less-important online services and apps.

Step #6. Don’t Open any Strange email you receive

When your email is available to the cybercriminals, your inbox can be abused with sophisticated online scams. To avoid these, never open an anonymous email you receive. In case you do, don’t click on any of the links provided in the email and refrain from downloading attachment files.

If you have been using the Internet for a while you’re already smart enough to identify spam or an authentic email but mistakes do happen and we all need to minimize them.

Step #7. Don’t use Free VPNs while browsing

Services like VPN help a lot when it comes to accessing blocked sites. But, a Free VPN service not only collects your Internet logs but also harvest your data and sells it to advertisers. 

Step #8. Don’t install unauthorized Extensions

There are tons of extensions and plugins for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browser. But, some extensions mess with your security by collecting your browsing history and selling it to third parties or make you a victim of targeted advertising. What’s worse is that some Android and iOS apps and extensions have been doing the same.

Therefore, next time you are about to install an extension or plugin, make sure to go through their privacy page and check if or what data they tend to collect from your web browser and make the decision accordingly.

Here’s a TIP:

Let’s suppose you’re looking for Ad blockers, Google something like this: “Best Adblockers for Chrome”. Search and find out which one has most of the positive reviews. So, the template is: “Best [extension features] [browser name]”.

Step #9. Stop viewing illegal content

Illegal content includes adult and pirated content. The websites containing illegal content have more probability of trackers sending your data spontaneously to third-parties for profit which can end up on the dark web. Moreover, such sites are known for dropping malware on visitors’ devices to make big bucks.

Wrapping it UP:

While cybercriminals are using your data for profit there are services like HaveIbeenPwned informing users whether their email accounts have been compromised. Stay vigilant online and avoid yourself the stress of losing your personal data to malicious elements.

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