The major threats to many businesses come from online sources one of which is the dark web.
The dark web often inspires awe among the general public. It is seen as a den for all sorts of criminal activities. Beyond this general view, many organizations don’t consider the dark web (also known as the dark net) relevant to their operations.
What exactly is the dark web? The web is divided into three parts; the surface, the deep, and the dark web.
The surface web is what you regularly surf and it is accessible to the general public. The deep web is internet resources that are behind a paywall, blocked from indexing, or require authentication to access such as your online bank account.
The dark web is a part of the internet that requires specialized software such as the Tor and the i2p project for accessing them. The dark net has multiple layers of encrypted resources that mask the identity of its users. Regular search engines can’t reach or access this particular online space.
While there are legitimate uses for the dark web, it is dominated by trading in illegal items and stolen data. With the aid of cryptocurrencies, traders’ identities are protected on the dark net.
What Are The Effects
The impact of the dark web can be far-reaching. For some organizations, the dark net only became a reality after a data leak or attack was discovered.
The dark web can not only cause financial loss to your business but reputation damage as well. A challenge an organization may face is not knowing when its confidential data are being traded by cybercriminals.
By the time an attack is detected, it might be too late to react.
What is Sold?
This is quite a popular commodity on the dark net. Attackers with a large number of stolen passwords can sell the data to one or multiple buyers.
Traded data can be used to impersonate victims and compromise other accounts with reused passwords.
Stolen financial records of victims can be used for money laundering. The victims may be blackmailed into cooperating with the attackers’ demands. Financial records also make it easier for attackers to carry out identity theft and spear-phishing attacks against a business’s employees.
Trade Secrets and Formulas
Organizations’ intellectual property as well as secret processes and methods are also sold on the darknet. Sales of such data can destroy a business’ competitiveness.
Patients’ data from various hospitals and medical institutions are sold on the dark net to third parties who need them for blackmail, phishing, fraud, or identity theft.
Credit cards are widely traded on the dark web because they don’t require technical skills and they can be used from any part of the world. Individuals bear the direct cost of stolen cards but affected businesses lose the public and consumers’ trust.
Specialized research data are bought by state-level actors wanting to bypass sanctions or research investment. Organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine research have been recently targeted for this purpose.
Other items sold on the dark web include; intelligence reports, government secrets, private and public security blueprints, and schematics for buildings and networks.
Stolen Data as a Service
Typical dark web trade involves an exchange but an emerging trend is to offer stolen data or access as a service. Rather than sell passwords or server access outrightly, malicious hackers can rent them to other cybercriminals as a service.
This form of trade may be facilitated by an outside attacker or a malicious insider with access to confidential systems.
How to Safeguard your Business Against the Dark Web
Educate your employees. Employees should be educated about phishing, malware threats, and the danger of indiscriminate sharing of personal or organizations’ information to the public.
Hire a Managed IT Service Provider. As a small business owner, it can be overwhelming to anticipate all the ways that your data could be stolen and traded on the dark net. This is why the services of a knowledgeable IT team is essential for reducing your business’ security risks. An experienced team can continuously monitor the dark web for any activity related to your organization.
A few other ways to keep safe are:
- Limit access to sensitive data.
- Avoid storing sensitive customer and business data on unsecured systems.
- Regularly update passwords and don’t reuse them.
- Install robust security programs to protect against malware.
As a business owner, you can’t ignore the dark web as it poses threats to all businesses. Adopt an effective security policy and work with a knowledgeable team to manage the threats of the dark web to help keep your business safe. Contact us today for help with your IT security. We can help protect your business from the dark web.