If you’ve ever received a notification that your data has been leaked in a data breach, you should assume that it is available on the Dark Web. Even if you haven’t, your personal data could have slipped through the cracks and found its way into the dark corners of the internet. So how do you find out if your personal data is on the dark web? If you have a Gmail email address, Google will run free scans to see if it’s on the dark web, and if you subscribe to the Google One storage service, Google includes Dark Web Monitoring to scan for additional types of personal information.
Before delving into the workings of Google One Dark Web Monitoring, a brief understanding of the dark web and dark web monitoring is in order. The dark web, a clandestine network of anonymized websites, is a marketplace for the trading of stolen personal data, including but not limited to driver's licenses, debit and credit card numbers, and Social Security Numbers. The veil of anonymity is maintained as these sites are beyond the reach of conventional search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, accessible only via specialized channels such as TOR (The Onion Router). Dark Web Monitoring serves as a digital sentinel, vigilantly scanning these clandestine spaces to detect any leakage of your sensitive information.
How to use Google’s free Dark Web Monitoring tool for your Gmail address
If you have a Gmail address, Google offers a one-click scan option.
- Go to https://one.google.com/dwr/setup_profile
- Sign into your Google account if you’re not already signed in and click the Run scan button.
- On the results page, click on View all results.
You’ll see how many times your Gmail address was found on the dark web and the names and dates of the breaches.
How to use Google One Dark Web Monitoring
Activating Dark Web Monitoring entails setting up a profile with the particulars you wish to monitor — be it your email address, phone number, date of birth, or social security number. Post activation, the monitoring tool crawls the dark web, delving into hundreds of thousands of sites. If your data is found, you're promptly notified with suggestions on protective measures to adopt.
The Dark Web Monitoring feature is available at all tiers of Google One, including the modestly priced 100 GB plan at $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. Currently, Google One is only available for personal accounts. Here’s a succinct guide on harnessing this service to keep a vigilant eye on your digital footprints:
- Navigate to one.google.com, where you'll find the Monitor the Dark Web option conspicuously displayed under the Member benefits section.
- Click on the Get Started button. You’ll see a screen where your email address is displayed, with options to add more information like your social security number and phone number for monitoring. Note that only accounts with a US billing method can monitor a Social Security Number.
- Hit the Start Monitoring button to activate the service.
- Once active, a summary page of your dark web report is presented when the scan is completed.
- The View Results option reveals the number of times each type of data was found on the dark web. You can then delve deeper for more details on each breach, other data that was compromised in the breach, and recommended actions.
If you’re already subscribed to a Google One plan or have a Gmail account, I recommend making use of Google’s Dark Web Monitoring tool. It pays to know what’s out there on the dark web so you can take steps to protect yourself.
Concerned about hackers getting ahold of your personal information? Read our stories How to Tell if Your Phone Has Been Hacked and Behind the Screens: Are Your Text Messages Safe from Hackers?
[Image credit: Hemant Saxena/Techlicious]