Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Google Plans to Give Dark Web Monitoring to Everyone

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Google taketh, Google giveth away. The renowned serial killer company known for killing off services has discontinued its paid-for VPN. Still, in the process, it’s also offering all consumer account holders its once-exclusive Dark Web monitoring. The new feature should comb through a global database of leaked information, searching for any sensitive information that may have been stolen and leaked online.

Google ended VPN by Google One on June 20 and instead pushed users toward the latest Pixel 7, Pixel Fold, or Pixel 8 phones with built-in VPNs or toward Google Fi Wireless plans that offered a virtual private network. If you log onto your Google One app, you’ll find a new notice stating that “Dark web report will no longer be available on Google One starting late July.” 

At first, you might think Google is axing yet another feature. However, the company’s related help article says, “Dark web reports will become available to all users with a consumer Google Account.” 9to5Google first noted the change to Google One’s services.

The Mountain View company will integrate Dark Web monitoring with Google’s Results About You page sometime toward the end of the month. That feature notifies users if their personal information, their name, address, or phone number, appears in search results. Google has previously stated its goal to scrub personal information from results, though it can’t actively remove your information from those third-party web pages. Anybody with a Google Account will have access to both Results about you and Dark web monitoring features, whether they’re paying customers or not.

Previously, non-paying account holders could perform a one-off dark web sweep of just their email address. The new integration will allow users to monitor for other pertinent information and receive regular updates when Google finds dark websites harboring your personal data.

That’s not to say that dark web monitoring will be able to do much once any of your personal information is found to have been stolen via data breaches. It will notify users if it finds their name, address, social security number, or password. Still, it can’t delete that information. It’s up to the individual user to go ahead and change their passwords or freeze their credit once they discover an issue. 

It’s good to see features like dark web monitoring are not falling by the wayside even while Google’s busy taking a hatchet to parts of its paid services. If you already hold a Google account that has access to your address, phone, or bank info, there are a few reasons not to set up dark web notifications. It might not be as robust as paid-for services like DeleteMe, but if you truly value your privacy you should also check out other internet-combing apps like Consumer Reports’ Permission Slip app.

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