What to Do if Employee Data is Found with a Dark Web Scan: Here’s What to Do Next

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Employee Data Found Using Free Dark Web Scan

Brief: Every day, more and more businesses are waking up to the fact that the line between personal data and business data is blurring, and they’re scanning the dark web for that data. This article looks at steps you can take if you find employee data on the dark web.

“Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.” – James T. Kirk

Sometimes that’s all we have, a feeling.

And sometimes we don’t need to trust feelings, we have concrete data and tools, like dark web scans to work with.

And sometimes, we might not like what we find with those scans.

Employee Data Exposed on the Dark Web

In light of the recent Mother of all Breaches (MOAB), It’s not surprise, it’s a technological ticking time bomb: your employee’s data is exposed on the Dark Web right now.

It’s akin to discovering a hidden iceberg that has surfaced only to reveal a small fraction of its full destructive potential, putting your business at risk.

Employee data showing up on a free dark web scan demands your immediate attention.

Confidential details, business credentials, social security numbers; startling amounts of sensitive information are now the prize for ruthless cyber criminals. The overwhelming scale of this issue echoes the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data churned out daily, a staggering amount that could cram the Library of Congress 500 times over.

But don’t let panic set in.

While the digital world is a playground for these unsavoury characters, this article is your guide on how to tackle this modern-day menace head-on. Unmasking the threats, equipping you to fight back, and safeguarding your business against subsequent breaches.

As we switch from panic to strategy, your precious data stealthily reverts from being low hanging fruit to a fortress that’s near impregnable.

The rules of the game have changed: privacy isn’t a luxury anymore, it’s a full-blown battle.

Are you ready to fight back?

Understanding the Dark Web Scan and its Implications

So… What is a Dark Web Scan?

Dark Web Scan Definition

A Dark Web scan is a robust online surveillance tool that searches the hidden depths of the internet, known as the Dark Web, for stolen company information, specifically employee data.

From confidential PDF files to sensitive personal data, the scan tries to locate any data leaks that could threaten your company’s security.

Often, cyber criminals sell stolen information on the unindexed corners of the internet, which regular search engines cannot access. It’s like looking for a needle in a digital haystack, and this is where a Dark Web scan helps you out. Dark Web scans use advanced technology and threat intelligence to spray light onto these dark, concealed online spaces. You can learn more about the magnitude of the problem with these Dark Web stats.

The Importance of Dark Web Scans

Finding employee data on the Dark Web is a flag-raising situation, signalling an alarming state of events that could lead to serious legal, financial, and reputational damage to your business. Quickly identifying compromised information allows companies to react swiftly, potentially curtailing further damages.

Firstly, stolen employee data on the Dark Web indicates a potential security breach, meaning your safeguards may be thwarted. It could potentially be an inside job, a rogue employee out for revenge, or an external hacker targeting your organization.

Secondly, it sets in motion a series of legal complications, given the stringent data privacy laws companies are bound by today. From penalties, lawsuits, to being held accountable for negligence, the legal quagmire is something no business wants to fall into.

Lastly, a data breach can severely impair not just your financial integrity but also stakeholder trust and business reputation. Customers, clients, and employees could lose faith in your ability to protect their sensitive data.

The Risk Contained in Employee Data – More than Meets the Eye

Employee data doesn’t just contain basic demographic details; it often includes heaps of confidential and sensitive information. Accurate bank details, national identity numbers, health insurance records, and various other critical and private details can be part of employee datasets in your possession.

When we’re looking at what kind of employee or personal data might end up on the dark web and how it can impact businesses, we’re really delving into a critical aspect of cyber security.

Let’s look at what data might be found with a Dark Web scan:

Personal Identification Information: This includes names, addresses, social insurance numbers, and birthdates. Once this information is compromised, it can be used for identity theft, fraud, or even to stage more targeted attacks against the company.

Financial Information: Credit card numbers, bank account details, and financial records can be found on the dark web. This information can lead to financial theft, unauthorized transactions, and can severely impact an individual’s financial health and the company’s financial integrity.

Login Credentials: Usernames and passwords for corporate accounts can grant unauthorized access to critical business systems. This access can be used to further compromise sensitive business information or disrupt business operations.

Employee Records: Detailed employee records, including health information, personal emails, and HR files, can be used for blackmail or to further penetrate a company’s network.

Intellectual Property: Proprietary business information, trade secrets, and other intellectual assets surfacing on the dark web can lead to a significant competitive disadvantage.

Tactically put, if this data lands in the wrong hands, the consequences could be severe.

Immediate Steps to Take After Finding Employee Info on the Dark Web

Armed with the knowledge of what a dark web scan entails and its implications, the focus now turns to what to do if you find an employee’s details lurking in these hidden corners of the internet.

Step 1: Inform the Affected Employee

An important first measure is ensuring the affected party is informed immediately. Clear and empathetic communication is key, so the employee understands the gravity of the situation and the steps that they need to take.

When dealing with the aftermath of a cyber security breach, especially one that involves sensitive employee or personal data, timely and transparent communication with the affected parties is crucial. This approach helps in managing the immediate fallout while maintaining trust and integrity in the long term.

Here’s why this approach is essential and how to effectively implement it:

Immediate Notification: As soon as you’re aware of a breach involving personal data, it’s vital to inform the affected individuals. Delaying this communication can exacerbate the situation, increasing the risk of identity theft or financial fraud for those impacted. Early notification gives individuals the opportunity to take protective measures, such as changing passwords or monitoring their financial accounts for unusual activity.

Clear and Empathetic Communication: The manner in which you communicate the breach is as important as the message itself. It’s essential to be transparent about what has happened, what data was compromised, and how you’re addressing the breach.

However, delivering this message with empathy is key. Recognize the stress and concern this news may cause and offer support and resources to help them navigate the situation. This could include guidance on how to secure their personal information, access to credit monitoring services, or a dedicated helpline for further queries.

Steps for Affected Parties: Clearly outline the steps that the affected individuals should take in response to the breach. This can include changing passwords, placing fraud alerts on their credit reports, and monitoring their accounts for any suspicious activity. Providing specific, actionable advice will help individuals feel more empowered to protect themselves.

Ongoing Support and Communication: The communication shouldn’t stop with the initial notification. Keep the affected parties updated on the investigation’s progress, any further risks identified, and additional steps they can take to safeguard their information. Open channels for them to ask questions or express concerns.

By prioritizing immediate, clear, and empathetic communication following a cyber security breach, you not only help mitigate the potential damage to those affected but also reinforce your commitment to transparency and responsibility.

This approach can significantly impact how your organization is perceived in the aftermath of a breach and can play a critical role in maintaining trust with employees, customers, and stakeholders.

Step 2: Secure the Employee’s Digital Identity

After informing an employee about a data breach involving their personal information, the next crucial step is to actively mitigate potential harm. Advising the employee to update all their passwords is a key part of this process.

Here’s a breakdown:

Password Update: The immediate action of changing passwords is fundamental in securing accounts against unauthorized access. This is particularly critical if the same password has been used across multiple platforms, as it’s common for attackers to try compromised credentials on various sites in what’s known as ‘credential stuffing’ attacks.

Strong and Unique Combinations: The emphasis on “strong and unique combinations” for each account cannot be overstated. Strong passwords typically include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, making them more difficult for cyber attackers to crack through brute force methods. The uniqueness of each password is equally important; by ensuring that no two accounts share the same password, you effectively limit the potential damage should one account get compromised.

Password Managers: This might also be a good opportunity to recommend the use of password managers. These tools can generate strong, unique passwords for every account and store them securely, so the employee doesn’t need to memorize them. This enhances security while simplifying the management of passwords across various services and platforms.

Implementing these steps significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access to the employee’s other accounts, should their credentials from one account be compromised. It’s a proactive measure that serves as the first line of defence in a broader strategy to mitigate the fallout from a data breach. This approach reflects a commitment to safeguarding personal and company data, reinforcing the importance of individual responsibility in the collective effort to maintain cyber security.

Recommend that the employee closely monitor their financial and online accounts over the next several months for any suspicious activity.

Step 3: Report to Relevant Authorities

Completing the cycle of crisis management following a data breach involves critical steps toward resolution and prevention of future incidents. An essential action in this process, particularly when the breach involves work-related information, is to engage with the relevant Canadian authorities. This step not only complies with legal obligations but also taps into resources and expertise that can aid in the response and recovery phases.

(Side note: we’re leaders in Canada’s cyber security forums, including contributing to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce‘s resources on cyber security.)

To effectively manage cyber security incidents and comply with Canadian regulatory requirements, it’s crucial for businesses to be familiar with the relevant authorities and the processes for reporting cyber incidents.

List of Canadian Authorities

Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre): This is the primary entity for reporting cyber incidents, providing cyber security advice, guidance, and services to keep Canada safe online. While reporting to the Cyber Centre doesn’t automatically initiate law enforcement action, it’s a critical step in getting expert cyber security assistance. For incidents believed to be of a criminal nature or posing an imminent threat, contacting local police or the RCMP is advised. More information can be found on their website.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC): Businesses must report breaches of security safeguards that pose a real risk of significant harm to individuals. The OPC requires organizations to maintain records of all breaches, whether or not they meet the harm threshold. Details on what to include in a report and the records to keep can be found at OPC.

Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI): Federally Regulated Financial Institutions (FRFIs) are required to report technology and cyber security incidents to OSFI, highlighting the agency’s role in maintaining the resilience of the Canadian financial system. Reporting guidelines and criteria are detailed on OSFI’s website.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC): For security incidents involving government contracts, PSPC provides a process for reporting security breaches that could impact government information and assets. Reports should be made without including protected or classified information initially, via the provided contact methods. Detailed guidelines are available at PSPC.

Each authority provides specific avenues and requirements for reporting, reflecting the multi-faceted approach Canada takes towards cyber security. It’s essential for businesses to understand these pathways to ensure compliance, aid in the broader fight against cybercrime, and contribute to national security efforts. Additionally, the recent emphasis on collaboration and information sharing highlights the collective effort required to address cyber threats effectively.

Furthermore, if the breach impacts credentials related to the employee’s work accounts, it’s prudent to inform your Internet Service Provider (ISP). ISPs can implement additional safeguards for these accounts and may conduct more in-depth investigations into the breach.

This action serves a dual purpose: it strengthens security measures to prevent unauthorized access and allows experts to analyze the breach’s origins and methods. Such analysis can provide insights that contribute to fortifying defences against similar attacks in the future.

By taking these measures, you not only address the immediate ramifications of the data breach but also lay a foundation for more resilient security practices. This proactive engagement with authorities and service providers underscores a commitment to comprehensive cyber security and the protection of sensitive information against evolving threats.

Not Sure What to do After a Dark Web Scan?

Events like these remind us that even as technology advances, certain threats persist. A proactive stance is crucial in ensuring your business remains shielded from these dark web threats.

If you feel that your business or your employee data might be compromised and need help, contact us today. As one of Canada’s premier MSSPs, we offer robust cyber security solutions and a free cyber security risk assessment.

Not sure if you need MSSP Security Services, check out our overview.

Canadian Dark Web FAQs

How can I monitor the dark web for my company’s data?

Answer: Monitoring the dark web requires specialized tools and expertise due to its anonymity and the use of encryption. Many businesses opt to engage with cyber security firms that offer dark web monitoring services. These services can alert you when your company’s sensitive information, such as employee data, credentials, or intellectual property, appears on the dark web. Additionally, implementing threat intelligence solutions that include dark web scanning can help you stay ahead of potential threats.


What are the legal implications of employee data appearing on the dark web for my business?

Answer: If employee data from your Canadian business ends up on the dark web, it could have significant legal implications under laws such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which mandates reporting of security breaches that pose a risk of significant harm to individuals. Failure to comply with PIPEDA’s breach notification and record-keeping requirements can result in penalties, including fines. It’s important to consult with legal counsel to understand your obligations and ensure compliance with applicable privacy laws. Additionally, businesses may face reputational damage and the potential for lawsuits from affected employees or customers if the breach is mishandled.

What should I do first if I find employee data on the dark web?

Answer: The first step should be to verify the authenticity of the data found on the dark web. Once verified, immediately inform the affected employees and advise them to change their passwords and monitor their accounts for suspicious activities. Concurrently, conduct a security audit to identify how the data was compromised and take steps to bolster your cyber security measures.

How can I verify if the data on the dark web is current or a result of a past breach?

Answer: Determining the recency of compromised data can be challenging. However, you can cross-reference the data with any known past breaches and look for indicators of recent activities, such as timestamps or data that only recently became available. Consulting with cyber security professionals who specialize in dark web investigations can also provide insights into the data’s timeline.

How can I prevent employee data from ending up on the dark web in the future?

Answer: Preventative measures include conducting regular cyber security training for employees, implementing strong password policies and multi-factor authentication, regularly updating and patching systems, and employing network monitoring to detect and respond to suspicious activities promptly. Also, regular dark web monitoring should be considered to detect compromised data early.

Are there specific legal obligations I must fulfill upon discovering employee data on the dark web?

Answer: Canadian businesses are subject to various legal obligations under laws like the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which requires organizations to report breaches of security safeguards that pose a real risk of significant harm to the individuals affected. You must also notify the affected individuals about the breach and record the incident. Compliance with these requirements helps mitigate legal and reputational risks.