What you need to know about the Dark Web

| March 3, 2020

The world can be a scary place, and the internet is no different. In recent years, more and more people are becoming aware of what’s known as the dark web—an underground and unregulated corner of the internet that holds a host of malicious, illegal, or otherwise disturbing online activities. Understanding what the dark web is, is essential to protecting your personal information and your business online.  

What is the dark web? 

The dark web is a network of hidden URLs that are generally not found via search engines or other types of websites. Often, this part of the internet is home to black markets and underground or criminal activity.

Accessing the dark web is meant to be secretive and complicated. Most dark web sites require VPN access or passwords, while others may need DNS (Domain Name Service) or internet proxy manipulation.

What happens on the dark web?

Many hackers will use the dark web to deploy malicious software or gather intel on and gain access to your organization. Your users may not even know that they are or have connected to these sources–allowing hackers easy access sensitive data through vulnerable, unknowing users.  

How do dark web attacks happen?

Situations resulting from dark web activity are dangerous and can be extremely damaging and detrimental to your business. New threats are always emerging and evolving. The exact types of attacks vary, but typically will happen through one or some of the following ways:

  • Infections or cyber attacks using malware, distributed denial of service (DDoS), and botnets
  • Unauthorized access, including remote access Trojans (RATs), keyloggers, and other exploits
  • Espionage through services, customization, and targeting
  • Compromised support services, such as tutorials or webinars
  • Phishing
  • Using refund or payment processing as vehicles for an attack
  • Compromised incoming customer, operational, or financial data

How can I protect myself and my business from dark web activities? 

Dark web activity can create business liabilities from utilizing your company’s public IP or domains for fraud, illegal activity, or in extreme cases, drug or terrorist motivations. Hackers can hold your financial or other sensitive information hostage or use your data for malicious purposes. With remote access and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies becoming the norm, full-scale cybersecurity and network protections are critical to protecting your users and avoiding legal, business, and personal ramifications.

Secure Your Systems 
Your network security depends on secure systems. Implementing zero-day security protections at the desktop level allows you to quickly identify compromised systems, immediately increase security levels, and block threats. Additional web filters and inline firewalls will assist in blocking threats. 

Be Proactive 
Because attacks can go unnoticed for long periods, it’s critical to be proactive for both your personal and business protection. Certain websites, such as haveibeenpwned.com, can advise you of sites that have fallen prey to stolen data, as well as the email address registered in those databases. Regular checks can protect your business and your users. 

Set Strong Password Requirements 
Make sure you set and require unique passwords, paired with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) protection. Require your users to change passwords often and ensure passwords are not stored in easily accessible locations.  

Freeze Your Financials
If your financial data is compromised or stolen, put a freeze on any personal or corporate cards and accounts as soon as possible. This will set up alerts in case anyone is trying to steal your identity or use your credit. Before this happens, you can take steps to protect yourself by using free resources like Free Credit Report or Credit Karma to monitor your accounts, get alerts on suspicious activity, and take action if an account is compromised. 

Be Wary of “Dark Web Scans”
Some companies will offer “Dark Web Scans,” or use algorithms that scan databases and known dark websites for your data. Unfortunately, this is never a surefire approach, as the majority of these sites are constantly moving targets. We recommend implementing tools that are designed to proactively secure your data and investing in ongoing corporate monitoring.

Taking a proactive approach to web monitoring and possible data breaches that may affect you, your clients and your employees, is the best way to keep your business, your users, and yourself safe and secure online.

We know this is a lot to consider. We can provide a comprehensive cybersecurity healthcheck that reviews your current environment to see if you have any gaps in your network, so you’re completely covered.

For help understanding your risk and protecting your systems, users, and your business - contact Consensus today!

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