Does The Dark Web Put Your Business At Risk Every Day?
As a company decision-maker, it probably seems like you have no tangible reason to invest resources in protections against the dark web. What criminals do on these secret platforms has nothing to do with your day-to-day operations. Or does it?
The loose network of cybercriminals who operate on this concealed digital underground target every business possible in some unimaginable ways. If your organization has a vulnerability, a hacker will certainly exploit it. If your company had a previous gap in its defenses that has been secured, digital thieves may have already stolen valuable and sensitive data. After considering just those two scenarios, do you really feel confident enough to ignore the dark web?
What Is The Dark Web?
To have even a working knowledge about the dark web, internet users must first understand that you access only a fraction of viable websites and platforms. When you run a Google search, only about 1-4 percent of the internet is visible and accessible to ordinary users. The remainder is known as the deep web. According to resources such as CSO Online, “Estimates place the size of the deep web at between 96 percent and 99 percent of the internet.”
The deep web comprises the vast majority of protected platforms that cannot be seen. Online entities such as banks, social media, and health care outfits, among many others, shield themselves from plain view. Some might call the deep web the backend of such platforms. Hidden within the ranks of these legitimate domains are illicit spaces used by hackers, thieves, drug dealers, money launderers, and for-hire cybercriminals.
What makes the dark web so formidable and threatening is the fact these criminal playgrounds possess some of the toughest cybersecurity defenses and are commonly laced with malicious software. Only invited guests and cybersecurity experts can safely enter dark web platforms. What professionals who investigate cybercrime discover in these secret spaces shocks the conscience.
What Can Be Found On The Dark Web?
Top law enforcement agencies such as the FBI spend countless hours trying to penetrate the dark web and trace bad actors electronically. The dangers of allowing borderless criminal activity to go unchecked have been met with multi-national cooperation such as the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group. This alliance, formed in 2016, promotes information sharing between the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, to combat criminal transactions on the dark web.
According to the National Institute of Justice, bad actors on the dark web rely on “anonymizing technology and cryptocurrency” to conceal transactions that threaten the general public such as drugs, bombs, weapons, and criminal acts for hire, among others. But as a business leader, these are things that could present a direct danger to your organization.
- Social Security Numbers
- Employee Login Profiles
- Bank Account and Routing Numbers
- Credit or Debit Card Information
- Intellectual Property and Corporate Trade Secrets
- Employee Personnel Files
- Customer Identity Information
- Strategic Planning Information
Consider for a moment that some low-level hacker visits a platform and buys one of your employee’s login credentials. They typically sell for under $100. With that information, a hacker can covertly log in to your system using a legitimate username and password. That means no cybersecurity alerts are going to be triggered.
In this all-too-common scenario, digital thieves can operate beneath your radar for years while copying sensitive and valuable data. That information will likely be auctioned off on a dark website. The old saying that “ignorance is bliss” was obviously crafted long before criminals developed a digital underground. What you don’t know about the dark web could result in ongoing or permanent damage to your business.
Why Criminal Dark Web Services Pose A Danger
The frightening thought that companies unknowingly have their digital assets listed for sale on the dark web like it’s Craigslist pales by comparison to the wide-reaching hacker services. Cybercriminals not only actively breach systems, but they also run advertisements on secretive platforms offering for-hire assistance to disrupt or spy on corporations. If you are in a competitive situation with an unethical rival, they could easily solicit a hacker to carry out the following.
- Cyberattacks: Bad actors can deploy wide-ranging tools to disrupt your day-to-day operations. Newly-minted viruses, email hijacking, and disrupted denial of services (DDoS) rank among the more prevalent for-hire attacks.
- Employee Exploitation: Hackers can be hired to target remote workforces that use personal and company devices to access a business network. Once a digital scammer ascertains login credentials, that information can be used by competitors to track your organization.
- Corporate Espionage: Online spying ranks among the easiest ways a cybercriminal can get paid. Blunt force hacking or leveraging legitimate login credentials allows bad actors to share information with your competitors.
One of the trending for-hire weapons involves using ransomware against rival corporations. Known as Ransomware as a Service (RaaS), criminals typically help a rival exploit a vulnerability to insert malware that then delivers complete control of your network.
While locked out of your network, files may be copied or destroyed while ransom demands are made. What you may not realize is that this attack may have been orchestrated by a deceitful vendor or industry competitor. If bad blood exists between your organization and one that could stoop this low, it may be necessary to take proactive measures.
How To Protect Your Organization From Dark Web Activities
There are two tried-and-true ways to enhance your operation’s protections from the criminal underground. First, work with a cybersecurity expert to harden your defenses. This usually means educating employees about cybersecurity threats, developing a strategic plan, patching software, using multi-factor authentication, and other security defense mechanisms.
The second prong involves intelligence gathering. Professional dark web scans can ferret out clues that your system has already been breached. This includes identifying login credentials for sale, financial information, or items relating to your operation.
Discovering digital assets on the dark web allows you to circle back and close vulnerabilities and delete login profiles that have been exposed. Ongoing dark web monitoring allows you to keep tabs on activities that may include someone in your orbit enlisting for-hire hacker services. By working with a cybersecurity firm with dark web expertise, you can prevent dark web exploitation.