You have likely heard that the dark web (which is different from the “deep web”) is often associated with illegal activities and anonymity. But if you are unfamiliar with this part of the internet, it is not indexed by search engines and is not accessible via standard web browsers. The dark web is accessed using special software, such as Tor, which allows users to reach domains with an encrypted connection. It has become a marketplace for stolen data, hacking tools, and other illegal goods and services. Its anonymous nature attracts people who want to keep their online activity private or hidden.
As a business leader, you may have asked yourself if this is a corner of the internet you should be paying attention to, and why? Businesses should be concerned about the dark web because it poses a threat to security, reputation, and financial well-being. The dark web can also be a source of sensitive information about a company and its employees that can be used for competitive advantage, financial gain, or other malicious intent.
There are several types of information found on the dark web that can be harmful to businesses, including:
Stolen data: Criminals can use these forums to buy and sell stolen personal information, such as credit card numbers, login credentials, and other sensitive data. This information can be used for fraud, identity theft, and other crimes, harming customers and damaging the business's reputation.
Confidential business information: Cybercriminals can use the dark web to purchase and sell information on companies' vulnerabilities, intellectual property, and confidential business data. This can lead to competitive disadvantages, financial losses, and reputational harm.
Hacking tools and services: The dark web is home to a variety of cybercrime activities, including malicious tools and hacking services. These tools, such as malware and exploit kits, are made available for purchase and can be used to launch attacks against businesses. By utilizing the dark web, criminals can obtain access to powerful information that can cause significant harm — including data breaches and financial losses — unless businesses have robust security measures in place.
Business contacts and employee information: Information obtained on the dark web about a business's employees and clients, such as their names, job titles, email addresses, and phone numbers, can aid attackers in social engineering campaigns by making their phishing emails and phone calls appear more legitimate. For example, a cybercriminal might use an employee's name and job title in an email in an attempt to trick a coworker or client into providing sensitive information or clicking on a malicious link. Additionally, information about an employee's personal life or interests could be used to tailor a message to make it more convincing. Knowing the employee's email address and phone number also allows criminals to use spear-phishing techniques, where they target a specific person or group of people, increasing the chances of success.
Fraudulent products and services: Counterfeit products can be a huge financial and reputational burden for companies. Not only do they often produce inferior, even dangerous, results that do not correspond to the company's brand values, but also any money consumers spend on counterfeit goods is simply taken away from the business. This can have a tremendous impact on their ability to invest in innovation and grow their business.
Businesses can take steps to monitor the dark web for their own information and protect themselves from the threats that originate there. This may include implementing strong security measures, such as encryption and multi-factor authentication, and regularly monitoring for suspicious activity on their networks. Additionally, businesses should consider working with a security professional to conduct regular dark web scans and assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities. Check out our Dark Web Monitoring product to learn more about how Secure Ideas can help your organization get ahead of the game. With the right monitoring tools and practices, companies can defend their business against the risks posed by these underground threats.