Nearly everyone has heard about the mysterious dark web, but many are too afraid to inquire about it or check into it further. It has a reputation for being an area of the internet where illegal activity takes place, such as the sale of weapons and drugs. More recently, the dark web has become the place where sensitive data such as individuals’ financial, medical, or personal data or corporate or forged data is sold.
Sensitive data can be used by dark web cyber attackers for purposes other than just sales. They can use this data for financial fraud and identity theft as well. Stolen documents such as identities and credit cards are the second most popular form of product on the dark web (after drugs).
However, the dark web isn’t accessible by normal web browsers, such as Firefox or Chrome. The dark web is a place that provides full anonymity, which is complemented by the fact that cryptocurrency is the primary form of payment there.
Its accessibility is limited to a specific piece of software called The Onion Router, more commonly known as “Tor”. This software was developed by the US Naval Research Laboratory to safeguard the identities of US Navy intelligence agents. Keeping it as private software meant that it wouldn’t be difficult to locate these agents, which meant that it became public for anyone to use.
Unlike the surface web, Tor doesn’t have security warnings when accessing highly unsafe websites. As a result, using Tor places the device at risk of infection and malware. Tor also changes the format of website URLs, with websites ending in “onion” instead. Currently, it has 2 million daily users.
Is the dark web dangerous?
The dark web is truly a terrifying place, hidden away in the depths of the internet. This is demonstrated by the fact that the dark web makes up only 0.01% of the deep web. Various illegal activities take place on the dark web, for example, many of the more extreme cyberattacks that occur on a larger scale are launched from the dark web. Businesses are put at serious risk by the deep web, as confidential information can be stolen and sold on the dark web.
Through means such as email phishing and malware, company credit cards and customer data can be stolen via cyberattacks. Previous reports indicate that around 33 million accounts were hacked on LiveJournal, and then posted for sale on the dark web. Cyberattacks from the deep web are commonly launched on unsuspecting businesses. As a result, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of the dark web in order to take appropriate action against it.
The good side of the dark web
Although the dark web is commonly used for illegal activities, legal activities also take place on it. Journalists and reporters who need to access certain websites to censor sources from the government do so through the dark web. In addition, government employees use the dark web to safeguard secret activities.
The dark web has also gained popularity because of the anonymity it provides. It allows for completely private communication via methods such as email and web chats that are hosted on Tor. This is done by passing the request for web pages through a network of proxy servers from various volunteer computers, rendering the IP address untraceable. Using cryptocurrency as the main payment option on the dark web means that payments are also completely anonymous.
The bad side of the dark web
On the dark web, cybercriminal communities are widespread. There is a huge marketplace for credit card fraud and identity theft, and millions of credit cards are posted for sale at any time.
Moreover, the dark web is home to “Cybercrime-as-a-service” offerings, where criminals sell a range of tools and services for use against businesses. Phishing emails and malware serve as a means of obtaining a business’s financial details and gaining access to sensitive information as a result. Employees are common targets, as cyber attackers can access the entire business’s information from just one employee.
The anonymity of the dark web combined with the usage of cryptocurrency makes it difficult for any transactions or sales to be tracked. Both forums and markets exist on the dark web. Forums involve discussions on procedures and techniques to carry out cyberattacks, along with planning any potential sales. Dark web marketplaces are similar to e-commerce sites on the surface web but for malicious purposes instead. Illegal information is often sold here, along with weapons and drugs.
Cyberattacks on businesses can lead to massive costs. This was seen in the “WannaCry” attack in 2017, which cost the NHS £93 million.
The ugly side of the dark web
Small businesses are at the highest risk of cyberattack from the dark web. They may not have the cybersecurity resources to deal with it, and can have all their sensitive information stolen as a result. However, the worst part is the fact that cyberattacks on businesses occur completely on the dark web. Businesses may not even know that their information has been stolen and put up for sale on the dark web.
Moreover, employee and customer personal data can be stolen and used for blackmail as well. Such cyberattacks are common and lucrative to cyber attackers due to how difficult it is to track them and the ability to make high profits through these means. Unfortunately, millions of such occurrences happen every day to unsuspecting businesses. Stolen personal information can be used by cyber attackers to create new identities as well, making it even more difficult to track them.
Stolen data often has countless life cycles on the dark web marketplaces. Closed forums can be used to post the data for sale, with either a high or low entry barrier. The data can even be posted for free on some forums and paste sites, or sold to known buyers. This would just be one life cycle of the data. It would be sold and traded multiple times on the dark web.
Protecting your organisation from the dark web
The initial step would be to raise awareness of the dark web in your organisation. It makes up 4% of the total internet, and poses a massive threat to many businesses that are susceptible to untraceable cyberattacks. Implementing cybersecurity training in your organisation can help bring everyone on the same page and increase awareness of potential dangers.
A successful phishing email or malware attack targeting just one employee could lead to the entire organisation being put at risk. This makes it that much more important to have all employees aware of the dangers of the dark web. Provide guidelines for avoiding suspicious links.
In addition, implement secure password protocols and two-factor authentication to provide an additional layer of protection. A VPN can also be a good way to protect your business from cyberattacks on the dark web because it hides your location.
Dark web monitoring can be an asset used by your organisation to determine if sensitive information has been leaked or stolen. It works by monitoring millions of sites on the dark web, and immediately alerting your organisation if a breach or leak has occurred. The benefit of using dark web monitoring is that you can reduce the time that your data is exposed on the dark web, and thus reduce potential damage.
Our managed cybersecurity services can provide you with the security you need to fight off dark web cyberattacks. Moreover, our threat detection services can help you be alerted of any data breaches or leaks occurring on the dark web. Contact Transputec to find out more about what measures you can put in place to strengthen your cybersecurity from dark web cyber attackers.