NordVPN unveils killer upgrade to monitor 'dark web' threats

NordVPN on mobile
(Image credit: Petter Lagson)

One of the world's biggest and best VPN providers, NordVPN, has unveiled a new security feature that warns users if any of their online accounts have been compromised by third parties.

The new feature, called Dark Web Monitor, scans lists of compromised credentials — sets of email addresses, passwords and usernames — that are posted on cybercrime forums. It will alert NordVPN users if any accounts linked to their email addresses appear. 

Such features are already offered by many of the best identity-theft-protection services, as well as a few of the best antivirus suites and even one or two of the best password managers.

But according to Nord, Dark Web Monitor is different from other dark-web scanners because it “runs continuously” and provides results in real-time. (Tom's Guide was not able to verify that assertion.)

"Your data might be for sale somewhere on the dark web without you even knowing," said Vykintas Maknickas, a product strategist at NordVPN. "It's impossible to protect yourself when you don't know where the threat is coming from. That's where NordVPN's Dark Web Monitor steps in." 

"It does the work for you by scanning the dark web and alerting you about exposed credentials," he added. "This way, you can take action immediately to protect yourself."

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Fighting cybercrime 

Maknickas warned that many people are reusing passwords across their different online accounts and that cybercriminals can access “the full ecosystem of accounts” if they figure out a user’s password. 

That's very true and it's why you should never reuse a password, at least not for accounts containing sensitive personal or financial information.

NordVPN says Dark Web Monitor will help the user improve their own data security and take steps against the problem of credential stuffing, which is when automated computer scripts bombard website login pages with thousands of stolen username-password credentials until they find a match. 

Dark Web Monitor, NordVPN claims, will warn users of data breaches so that they can change their passwords straight away and ensure cybercriminals can’t cause damage or try to steal identification details. 

Getting started

The new feature is only available on NordVPN’s iOS apps at launch. But Android VPN users will receive it next, and other platforms are expected to get the feature in the near future. 

To get set up, you’ll need to update your NordVPN iOS app and enable the feature by heading over to the app settings. The feature will only monitor breached accounts linked to the email address with which you signed up for NordVPN. 

NordVPN also confirmed that a new split-tunneling function will be available for Windows 10 VPN users at the end of the month. 

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Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, The Next Web, T3, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan!