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Hands-on review: Norton LifeLock Dark Web Monitoring

29 Sep 2020

Norton LifeLock’s Norton 360 security suite has been updated with web-app that checks to see if your data has already been exposed to the dark web.

When Norton LifeLock reached out to me to ask if I was aware of their newest feature, I recoiled a little- do I really want to know if my data was been exposed to the highest bidder in the darkest corners of the Internet? (Answer: not really). Like checking your credit card balance in January, it’s not something that you want to do, but it’s something that you ought to do. 

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Just to paint a bleak picture for you all, and knowing that this is probably not the best time for bad news, Norton LifeLock explained the following to me.

“Last year, more than 1.3 million Kiwis were affected by cybercrime and the top three incident categories were phishing, scams and unauthorised access reports according to CERT NZ.

Information compromised in a data breach may end up being traded on the dark web, a part of the internet that is not easily accessible through regular browsers. The dark web may allow criminals to remain anonymous while buying and trading stolen data, which can then be used for identity theft.”

Sadly, there is a good chance if you’ve been using the Internet for 10+ years that the username and password you used on at least one website has been compromised. Hopefully, the site has enough security to at least separate usernames and passwords. But they don’t always, and if you used the same username and password for everything, you leave yourself wide open.

Norton LifeLock, formally known as Norton, formally known as Symantec, have launched their Dark Web Monitoring Powered by LifeLock in New Zealand. This new technology is included as part of Premium and Deluxe Norton 360 plans.

Accessing Dark Web Monitoring is easy, you simply click the “View Alerts” box from the My Norton dashboard, which then opens the Dark Web Monitoring page on the My Norton website.

For here you add all your details so that Norton LifeLock can check them for you. I’ll be honest, and say that there’s something ever so counter-intuitive in typing all your intimate personal details into a website, just to see if any of your details that you’ve typed in on other websites have been compromised.

The Norton Dark Web Monitor page does little to address this irony, other than a tiny “This page is secure. Your security is important to us.” bit of text. Makes you wonder if this service is aimed at Internet users that blindly type in their details and click every phishing scam. 

The website enables you to add details such as phone numbers, your mother’s maiden name, credit card number, postal addresses, email addresses, bank details etc. The Dark Web Monitoring then keeps an eye out to see if any of your details have been shared online due to site hacks etc.

LifeLock’s 15-year heritage in identity protection uses AI and human technology to scan the dark web and private forums, searching for your personal information. If it finds anything the software will notify you and advised on the next steps to take in protecting your information.

Surprisingly, the website already had a nasty shock in store for me. The email address that I used for my Norton account was compromised by an attack on a website I used for benchmarking. The message read, “The site community.hwbot.org has been reported in July 2019 to possibly have suffered a data exposure that could include 227,118 records”. Both my username and password have been exposed.

Now, most websites separate the username/email, from the password list. This is why you may get scam emails offering to expose your illicit secrets proudly boasting of having a password that you don’t use. But not every site does this.

As Norton’s webpage says, there no way to prevent your information on the internet from being compromised. Being smart about username and password selection can help. You probably shouldn't end your password with a “1” followed by “!”. Use a random password generator and something like the Norton 360 Password Manager to look after them.

Whilst no Internet security software is perfect, Norton 360 does offer scaled protection suitable for novices and experienced users alike. The software can be customised to monitor your computer security without the nags and hindrances that get in the way of what you are doing, at the level you want. 

As spooky as it is, Dark Web Monitoring adds another level of Internet monitoring that, unfortunately, we need in this dangerous world. To get this as a freebie on top of your Norton 360 protection is pretty good, but not a substitute for being careful when using personal data online.