What is the dark web and why should you be concerned about it?

What is the dark web and why should you be concerned about it?

What comes to your mind when you hear the term “dark web”? Do you think of some sketchy area on the web where evil things happen? Or some place online where you can’t easily be found? The truth is, the dark web is a hidden part of the World Wide Web only accessible through a special web browser like TOR. This enables users and website owners to stay unidentified.

The dark web is different from the deep web, as the latter deals with parts of the web undiscoverable by search engines, including password-protected or dynamic pages and encrypted networks. Some examples include your cloud storage and email inbox.

Your precious data is at stake

Given the dark web’s anonymity feature, criminals are exploiting it to sell dangerous and illegal items such as weapons and drugs. However, there’s another aspect of the dark web that should concern small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and that’s the sale of leaked and stolen corporate data and credentials.

According to enterprise security solutions provider Positive Technologies, the most common ads on the dark web are for the sale of user credentials, bank card details, and scanned copies of documents. These attacks could originate from hacktivists or persons infiltrating a network to destroy your reputation and further a social or political message.

Stolen data can also be sold by disgruntled ex-employees; they can, for instance, copy your data to a USB flash drive and deliberately leak it online. Script kiddies, or unskilled individuals using scripts or programs to attack systems, can also run automated scans to find vulnerable websites and servers.

Cybercriminals aren’t just out to steal money from you. They’re also interested in your valuable data, such as employees’ and customers’ personal details, and company secrets. Once hackers get their hands on sensitive information, they will sell it on the dark web for a large amount of money. For instance, online payment login services credentials go for up to $200, while medical records cost up to $1,000. US passports sell for as much as $2,000.

Everybody is affected

Small business owners tend to have a mindset that they’re not a target forcybercriminals because they think they have nothing of value to be stolen. However, this ignorance is what’s pushing hackers into stealing data from them. Many organizations only take action when their information is already being distributed illegally. Most regretfully wish they had taken proactive cybersecurity measures when they had the chance.

The thing is, regret only comes to those who become aware of being victimized. Most organizations who own the leaked data have no idea of their information’s existence on the dark web. The low risk of getting caught on the dark web makes it an attractive place for cybercriminals to do their business.

What can you do?

Once your data ends up on the dark web, there isn’t much you can do. Given this, it’s important to have a proactive approach and avoid data leaks once and for all. Here are a few best practices:

  1. Prohibit employees from using TOR
  2. If no one can access the dark web within your network, then no one will be able to leak your data and sell it to cybercriminals. Provide clear guidance in your employee manuals when it comes to safe internet usage.

    Train them as well on visiting websites they are and aren’t allowed to visit. You can also use software that blocks TOR so none of your employees will be able to run it in their PC. Implement punitive sanctions should these rules be broken or bypassed.

    Remember that the end user is the weakest link to cybersecurity, so educating your employees will always go a long way towards better data protection.

  3. Limit access to sensitive data
  4. You can also take advantage of access management technologies such as Azure Information Protection (AIP) and Microsoft Intune.

    The former classifies data based on sensitivity to make it easier for administrators to control permissions. The latter, meanwhile, lets businesses manage mobile devices employees are using to access corporate data and applications.

    For instance, you can prevent access to your sensitive data while users are outside the corporate network. You can also lock down mobile devices to a specific set of apps to ensure employees are getting work done.

  5. Implement multifactor authentication (MFA)
  6. Credential theft is rampant, but you can mitigate this through MFA. This involves the use of more than one means of verifying a user’s identity. For instance, after employees enter their passwords, you can require them to enter a code sent to their smartphone. This way, even if hackers get ahold of a password, their efforts to infiltrate the account will still be futile without the code.

  7. Use a dark web and data breach monitoring service
  8. Use sites like haveibeenpwned to see if any corporate emails have been breached.
    Also, have experts monitor the dark web to find out if any personal or company information is showing up on restricted forums on the dark web. Take the appropriate steps to change passwords internally and urge your customers to do the same.

  9. Partner with Binatech
  10. By signing up with Binatech, you won’t ever have to worry about your dataending up on the dark web. Binatech will monitor your network infrastructure 24/7/365 and look out for potential cyberthreats that could pose an issue to your data’s safety. What’s more, Binatech doesn’t cost as much as paying an in-house employee afixed monthly fee.

Don’t let your precious data fall into the wrong hands. Binatech’s Dark Web ID Credential Monitoring service detects compromised credentials on the dark web in real-time and notifies you immediately of any issues so you can take action right away. Sign up for a FREE Dark Web Scan today.