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Google Expands Dark Web Monitoring to All Users Amid Rising Cybersecurity Concerns
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In a significant move to enhance user privacy and security, Google has announced the expansion of its dark web monitoring service to all consumer account holders.

Set to launch in late July 2024, this free feature marks a shift in Google's approach to protecting user data in an increasingly complex digital landscape.

The Dark Web Dilemma
The dark web, a hidden part of the internet accessible only through specialized browsers, has long been a marketplace for cybercriminals. Personal information stolen through data breaches often ends up for sale on these shadowy forums, putting individuals at risk of identity theft and financial fraud.

Google's New Line of Defense
Previously exclusive to Google One members, the dark web monitoring service will now be integrated into the "Results about you" page, accessible to all Google account holders. This tool will scan the dark web for users' personal information, including addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. If such data is detected, users will receive alerts, enabling them to take prompt action to protect themselves.

The Broader Cybersecurity Landscape
This expansion comes at a critical time. The Identity Theft Resource Center's 2023 report highlighted a 118% increase in job scams, while Google Voice scams remained the most prevalent form of identity crime. Although the overall number of victims decreased, more individuals reported multiple identity theft attempts, indicating evolving tactics by cybercriminals.

Google's Shifting Security Strategy
Interestingly, this move follows Google's recent discontinuation of its Google One VPN service on June 20, 2024. The company now recommends VPNs built into Pixel phones or available through Google Fi Wireless plans, suggesting a strategic pivot in its security offerings.

Empowering Users, But With Limitations
While the dark web monitoring service provides valuable alerts, it's important to note its limitations. Google cannot remove personal information from third-party sites or the dark web itself. Instead, the service acts as an early warning system, prompting users to take protective measures such as changing passwords or freezing credit.

A Step Towards Proactive Privacy Protection
Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, emphasizes the evolving nature of cyber threats: "The environment shows bad actors are more effective, efficient, and successful in launching attacks." In this context, Google's expansion of dark web monitoring to all users represents a significant step towards more proactive privacy protection.

As we navigate an increasingly complex digital world, tools like Google's dark web monitoring service become crucial in empowering users to safeguard their personal information. While it's not a panacea for all cybersecurity issues, it's a welcome addition to the average user's privacy toolkit, reflecting the growing need for accessible, user-friendly security measures in our interconnected age.

Steps to access the dark web monitoring service through the "Results about you" page, based on the information provided online:

1. Wait for the feature to become available: This feature will be rolled out in late July 2024.

2. Sign in to your Google Account: You'll need to be signed in to access this feature.

3. Navigate to the "Results about you" page:
• Go to your Google Account settings
• Look for a section related to privacy or personal information

4. Look for the Dark Web Monitoring feature: Once on the "Results about you" page, there should be a new section or option for dark web monitoring.

5. Set up your profile: You may need to set up a profile with the personal information you want monitored, such as your name, address, phone number, and email.

6. Enable monitoring: Follow any prompts to turn on the dark web monitoring feature.

7. Set up alerts: Configure how you want to receive alerts - the document mentions that you can receive them via email or notifications on your smartphone.

8. Regular checks: Return to this page periodically to check for any alerts or reports about your information on the dark web.

Remember, while Google is providing this tool, it's up to you to take action if your information is found on the dark web, such as changing passwords or freezing your credit.

Please note that since this feature hasn't been released yet at the time of writing, the exact steps might vary slightly when it's actually implemented. It's always a good idea to check Google's official help pages for the most up-to-date instructions once the feature is live.

List of Free online resources for monitoring the dark web:

1- Google's Dark Web Monitoring (coming soon): As mentioned in the document, this will be available to all Google account holders.

2 - Have I Been Pwned (https://haveibeenpwned.com/): Checks if your email has been compromised in known data breaches.

3 - Firefox Monitor (https://monitor.firefox.com/): Similar to Have I Been Pwned, it checks your email against known breaches.

4 - Identity Theft Resource Center (https://www.idtheftcenter.org/): Offers various free resources and alerts.

Useful information:

  1. How dark web report works (Before July 2024)
  2. Find and remove personal contact info in Google Search results

Posted on: Jul 9 2024

Sectors: Information Technology
Topics: Security

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