What Is The Dark Web And Why Is It A Threat To My Business?

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You’ve probably heard bad things about the dark web, or Darknet as it is sometimes called. With “dark” in the name, it even sounds scary… but do you know what the dark web actually is?

In this post, we explain the what, where, and why of the dark web and how it might affect your business.

Dark Web vs. Deep Web

The content you’re used to seeing on the web is really just the tip of a MASSIVE iceberg that is the web. The parts of the internet that are indexed by search engines represent less than 1% of the “surface web”, as it’s called. The other 99% or so is what’s called the “deep web”. The dark web is over 500 times the size of the surface web, and it is growing.

The entire deep web is not all bad!
Content that’s protected by passwords and other layers of security are included in this, like the contents of your email inbox and online banking pages. Web archives, hosted databases, and other materials like this are also in there.

The dark web is actually just a tiny sliver of the deep web.

Most people who use the internet every day will never even visit the dark net. They wouldn’t venture into it for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is not searchable in traditional ways and requires special browser software like Tor or I2P, and
  2. Things that are illegal or dangerous are happening there that most of us want to avoid.

So, then, why should you care about the dark web?

What’s So Bad About The Dark Web?

Since the dark web is browsed using multiple layers (an “overlay network”) to hide the identities of its visitors and contributors, the transactions and communications that happen there remain virtually anonymous. On the dark web, cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is used by those conducting business to further shield happenings from governing bodies and network monitors.

Those who use the dark web are actively using this, which implies that they are deliberately dodging rules and oversight. They might be trying to avoid state censorship, trying to secretly research something, or attempting to sell or buy something illegal, just to name a few examples. Drugs, child pornography, hired murderers, and deadly weapons are bought and sold on the dark web every day.
Here is something that’s also bought and sold every day on the dark web: Personal identifying information. Things like bank records and social security cards, passwords, and unique secure tokens are all there for cybercriminals to get their hands on.

This is all extremely threatening to individuals, and the use of all that’s available there is really unpredictable. No wonder it is regarded with such negativity and fear!

How The Dark Web Will Hurt You

As you likely gathered by now, the dark web itself is not what will potentially threaten your livelihood. It all comes down to who or what gets hold of the data that’s there.

Imagine this scenario:

One of your employees is using their work email for a third-party website like Amazon or Expedia.
Maybe they’re using the same password that they do for their work email.
One of those third-party sites gets hacked or accidentally leaks data, including passwords and usernames.
That information gets sold via the dark web between criminals.
Now a cybercriminal has your employee’s email and password information.

Think about all of the doors that open to your work network and that individual’s personal identity! It invites countless opportunities for both your business and that person’s life to be infiltrated.

How To Protect Your Business From The Dark Web

Know Where Your Data Is Already

Start with a Dark Web Analysis. This will tell you if your company is already at risk due to exposed credentials. We do this for our customers, and this is also part of our assessment and discovery process at the onset of all new client relationships.

Lock Down Data and IDs

There are multiple layers involved in securing your data and network.

On a personal level as well as in your business, that requires protecting both your devices and yourself by way of good cyber habits. Here are some pieces to consider as you lock things down:

  • Identify, secure, and manage passwords.
    We recommend finding a password management tool.
    At the very least, up your password game with new, more complex and diverse ones!
  • Ensure that you are trained and tested to fight back against bad actors.
    A strong security awareness program can empower you and your employees to act as a steadfast first line of defense in the face of even the most clever of criminals.
  • Traditional security methods like anti-virus, anti-malware, firewall protection, and so on.
    You were probably expecting these to be first on our list, right? Well, for the above-mentioned reasons we suggest addressing your passwords and behaviors immediately! That’s not to say that this isn’t an integral piece of the puzzle.

Keep At Eye On Your Data

How will you know if and when data or credentials tied to your organization end up on the dark web?

Will you know when your network and devices are being threatened by cyber attacks, or when your data is exposed due to things like missing security patches or outdated software?

Looking for a technology advisory who can help you stay out of harm’s way and keep you and your business moving in the direction of your goals?
That’s our specialty. Get in touch with us today.

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