A new online service security service has launched in the UK that scans the Dark Web for stolen data and alerts users if their personal information has been leaked online.
OwlDetect trawls encrypted websites most commonly used for illegal trading for "almost any piece of personal data" that might have been leaked or stolen during a cyberattack. This includes email addresses, debit and credit cards numbers, bank details and even driving license and passport numbers.
Its creators claim OwlDetect is capable of scanning over 10,000 forums and 1,000 Twitter accounts a day for compromised information using both online programs and trained experts from identity protection company CSIdentity. If personal details are found, users are notified via email and text message.
The arrival of this service is timely as more companies find themselves the victims of cyberattacks. Tesco, Three and TalkTalk are just some of the big organisations to have found themselves targeted by hackers in recent months, meanwhile in September Yahoo admitted that up to 500 million user accounts were stolen during a colossal security breach at the company in late 2014.
OwlDetect said it wanted to "shine a spotlight" into darkest corners of the web, where troves of sensitive personal and financial details are covertly traded every day. The service promises to alert users to data breaches more quickly that the companies or service providers from which the information has leaked, which recent history shows can take weeks, months or even years after the attack takes place.
Professor Richard Benham, Chairman of The National Cyber Management Centre and a member of OwlDetect's advisory team, said: "Today the risk of having your personal information compromised is greater than ever. From messaging apps to online shopping and dating websites, we trust a huge number of companies with our details, and there are endless opportunities for those details to fall into the wrong hands.
"However, while it's not technically difficult to access the so-called Dark Web, it is almost impossible to track down your personal information as it's beyond the reach of regular search engines. That's why the service OwlDetect offers is so important – it puts the power back into your hands."
OwlDetect is available as a subscription service costing £3.50 per month. First-time users will be provided with a back-dated check for any information that is already online, followed by ongoing alerts if any of their personal details are discovered online. The service will also offer advice on the steps users should they fall victim to cyberattacks and how to better protect themselves in future.
"With more than 37,000 websites hacked every day, it's an issue everyone should understand and be aware of, but not be frightened by," said Benham. "Cybercrime is as real today as any physical crime. But just like locking your doors or fitting a burglar alarm, there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk."