May 4, 2023
The internet creates endless possibilities in our society. It provides information in an instant, you can make purchases from anywhere, and so much more. But as helpful as the internet has become, there’s a more nefarious side to it most people aren’t aware of. It’s called the dark web.
This hive of cyber scum and villainy lies outside of the field of view for most businesses, but dark websites should not be ignored. All it takes is one shady transaction on the dark web to cause some serious headaches for your company.
Read on to learn about the seedy underbelly of the World Wide Web. Find out what you can do to avoid stolen data, identity theft, and so much more with dark web monitoring tools.
What is the Dark Web?
The cybercrime landscape is evolving fast. Cybercriminals are smarter and more organized now--almost functioning like professionals.
There’s a sort of parallel universe where they all operate in a very corporate-like manner. And that parallel universe is called the dark web.
It’s a place filled with mystery and mayhem with a colorful cast of lawless ne’er-do-wells, like a digital saloon straight out of a spaghetti western. But don’t let the mystique fool you. Bad things happen on the dark web that have very real consequences for people in the real world.
The Different Levels of the Web
The internet can be categorized into 3 parts: the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web.
The Surface Web
The surface web is what many internet users interact with every day. This includes many friendly websites that are safe and show up in search results. For example, when you search for “Dog Videos,” links for dog videos on YouTube will appear. YouTube, in this case, is an example of the surface web.
The Deep Web
You’re probably also familiar with the deep web. Deep webpages also appear in search results but require you to log in to view specific content. For example, your Internet banking page or your Netflix account. The passwords are there to protect sensitive data.
The Dark Web
Then comes the dark web.
You can’t stumble upon the dark web naturally like you would with the surface and deep web. Dark web pages are not available for users to search in general search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. The dark web requires the use of an anonymizing browser called Tor.
This browser offers anonymity, which is why it’s such a popular choice for cybercriminals. Strictly speaking, the dark web typically hosts a variety of illegal content including:
- Stolen debit or credit card numbers and information
- Compromised credentials such as banking information or social security numbers
- Sensitive information from an organization or company such as corporate email addresses
- Contact details and communication platforms for striking deals with hitmen, drug dealers, weapon dealers, hackers, etc.
- Marketplaces to buy malicious codes to help corrupt or jam IT systems & even RaaS (Ransomware as a Service)
The dark web publishes and shares the previously mentioned information. Think of the dark web as the underworld of the normal day-to-day internet.
So, how does it concern you? Well, your data could be on the dark web right now. The dark web acts as a marketplace for cybercriminals.
If your data has been compromised, the dark web is the place where it will be bought and sold. Your data could be sold by miscreants, to miscreants, who can later hack into your system, or even worse, steal the identities of your customers.
What are the Repercussions for Your Organization if You are on the Dark Web?
If you find out your data has been leaked onto the dark web, it is important to take charge immediately. Leaked information puts not only your business at risk but your customers too. As a business, you’re privy to what the industry calls Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This can include things like names, phone numbers, addresses, payment information, and more.
You must safeguard this information. Some states even have laws spelling out this obligation and enforcing stiff penalties against companies that don’t secure PII.
If you’re not careful while handling information from your customers, it can lead to permanent consequences for your business such as:
- Lawsuits that require large sums of money in the form of fines or settlements
- Long-lasting damage to your brand
- A loss of customers, partnerships, and business
Remember, once you’ve lost the trust of your customers it’s extremely difficult to get it back.
What are Dark Web Monitoring Services?
Monitoring the dark web is the process of searching for and tracking your organization’s information on the dark web.
As a part of the dark web monitoring service, a company will keep an eye out for any information you specify, or that is related to you, that may be present on the dark web. There are various avenues where this information may be available on the dark web, such as:
- Chat forums
- Social media platforms
- Online marketplaces
Vulnerability alerts are another way to monitor the dark web. On the dark web, some entities are willing to give away information regarding vulnerabilities in certain systems and software. But it comes with a price.
A company that offers dark web monitoring will regularly do a dark web scan and keep an eye out for stolen information and alert its customers of threats.
Companies offering dark web monitoring may also offer industry insights, trends, and benchmarks that can help you proactively tighten your cybersecurity.
How Do I Keep My Information Safe?
With dark web monitoring services, you will know if there has been a data breach. For example, if your e-commerce website’s user IDs and passwords have been stolen, or your customer’s credit card data has been leaked via your database, you can take the necessary steps to mitigate a possible ransomware attack or data leak before it happens. But that’s damage control after the damage has been done. Ideally, you’ll want to prevent the breach from happening in the first place.
While dark web monitoring services can warn you if your data has been compromised, there are a few things you can do to keep your data safe before any damage is done.
By following good password hygiene, you can eliminate the stress and worry that you will be hacked or have your login information stolen.
If you’re running a company, large or small, it is very important to establish strict password policies and regulations regarding password sharing.
Excellent password hygiene looks like this:
- Consistently changing your password
- Not including personal information such as your name, birth date, or username
- Use a strong password that includes uppercase letters, numbers, and expressions
Train Your Staff
Be sure to train your staff to identify spam or any other malware traps. Conducting tests and mock drills will help your employees recognize and act against cyber threats to your business.
There are various cybersecurity training courses you can offer your employees as an onboarding opportunity.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policies
If you allow your employees to bring their own devices to work or vice versa, be sure to establish a clear BYOD framework that will help you manage the risks associated.
Access Permissions and Roles
Establish different user roles for your staff and give them role-based data editing, copying, or sharing permissions, so that each employee only has as much access to information as they need.
Learn More About Dark Web Monitoring Services from Blade Technologies
Being exposed to the dark web can be exhausting, scary, and life-threatening to businesses of all sizes. Teaming up with a Managed Service Provider who specializes in cybersecurity and offers dark web monitoring services can help keep you safe.
Reach out to the experienced Managed Service Providers at Blade Technologies, Inc. to receive the assistance that will ensure your information remains safe!