Nearly everyone had heard about the Dark Web, and there is a lot of scare tactics out there regarding it. The Dark Web is a part of the internet where criminals can roam free, and much illegal activity takes place there. It is important for you to understand what the dark web is and how it can impact your business.
Dark Web - The Basics
When you're using a site like Google or LinkedIn, you are only experiencing a very small percentage of the actual internet. The part of the internet in which we all surf daily is called the "surface web." The reason it is called the surface web is because it's only about 5-10% of all of the information on the internet. These pages are all indexed by search engines are easily located. The rest of the unindexed digital pages are known as the "deep web." This constitutes about 90-95% of the digital world. Content on the deep web isn't accessible through search engines. If you know how to get to a site, you can find the information you need. But sites like Google aren't indexing these pages and putting them into searches. Much of the deep web is made up of things like medical records, financial records, scientific reports, government resources and subscription information.
That leaves approximately .01% of the internet, and this nefarious place is the "Dark Web." The Dark Web is intentionally hidden, and you cannot navigate to its information through a traditional browser. You can only see the pages on the Dark Web with the Tor browser. Through this browser, all network traffic is encrypted and routed randomly through various locations to make it untraceable. This makes user information anonymous, and it allows users to communicate and conduct transactions with no fear of identification.
Dangers of the Dark Web
Before we get too deep into the dangers of the Dark Web, know that there are legitimate uses for it. Activists in authoritarian governments depend on the Dark Web for anonymous communication. Journalists use the Dark Web to communicate with sources for confidentiality purposes. Scientists use it to discuss and share sensitive data on cutting edge research. However, the Dark Web is more commonly a place where cybercriminals buy and sell all sorts of things including stolen identification data, credit card information, fake currencies, illegal images, drugs and even services such as hitmen!
As a business, your biggest concern is for the dark web is the data trading and selling that takes place. Cybercriminals can gain access to your network and data in any number of ways, and once your credentials are compromised, your customer data could end up for sale on the dark web. When a hacker gains access to stolen data, there are many methods that can be used to gain access to your business.
How to Protect Yourself From the Dark Web
Most businesses take a reactive approach to Dark Web threats. They believe the probability of falling victim to it is low, and if it does happen, they'll take care of it when it happens. Be warned, this is a very expensive approach to security. Most data breaches aren't detected immediately, and by the time they are, it could be too late. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, almost 50% of small businesses have experienced a cyber attack, and as much as 60% of those hacked small and mid-sized businesses go out of business within six months of the attack.
A company that is unaware of a data breach can come off as incompetent or even uncaring. In 2017, credit monitoring firm Equifax exposed data for 143 million people, and their handling of the situation was an epic failure. This type of response to a breach shows that all businesses need to be more aware of the threats they are facing, and protect themselves accordingly. Here are a few ways you can protect your business:
- Believe Your Business Will Be Breached: Let's face it, it's not a matter of if, but when a business will be attached. In the past, hackers would target large businesses, but today small and mid-sized companies are considered equally as valuable. If you're prepared for a data breach, you can create an effective strategy to make your data harder to interpret.
- Monitor the Dark Web Regularly: The sooner you find out that your company or employee data is on the Dark Web, the faster you can take action. Fraser offers Dark Web Monitoring services through our Managed IT group, and they can inform you immediately when company-specific data arises.
- Have a Plan: If your data is on the Dark Web, have a plan in place to minimize the consequences. Know specific risks that are particular to your business and create a step-by-step action plan. This will have you prepared for when a breach occurs.