You may have heard about the dark web and how it’s a space for criminals to buy and sell stolen data. But what exactly is the dark web, and how can you keep your small- or medium-sized business’s (SMB) data from ending up there? Read on to find out.
What is the dark web?
The dark web is a part of the internet that can’t be accessed by traditional means (i.e., by using a web browser). It’s only accessible through special software, like Tor, which encrypts internet traffic and routes it through a network of volunteer-run servers, making it difficult to trace.
While the dark web can be used for legitimate purposes (e.g., anonymous whistleblowing), it’s mostly used for illegal activity, like buying and selling drugs, weapons, and stolen data.
How can your SMB’s data end up on the dark web?
There are a few ways your SMB’s data can end up on the dark web, including:
- Phishing attacks – Hackers can use phishing emails or texts to trick employees into revealing their login credentials. Once hackers have this information, they can access your company’s systems and steal sensitive data.
- Data breaches – If your SMB stores data on an unsecured server or in the cloud, it could get hacked. Once bad actors infiltrate these systems, they can steal sensitive data like customer information, financial data, or trade secrets.
- Insider threats – Not all data breaches are caused by hackers. Sometimes, they’re caused by employees who have access to sensitive data and decide to sell it on the dark web.
How can you protect your SMB’s data?
Having a proactive cybersecurity strategy is the best way to protect your data from the dark web. Here are some steps you can take to achieve just that:
- Enable multifactor authentication (MFA) – MFA is a security measure that requires users to confirm their identity with two or more separate pieces of evidence. This added level of security makes it significantly more difficult for hackers to infiltrate your accounts and systems, even if they have stolen login credentials.
- Use a password manager – A password manager is a program or application that helps you generate and store strong, unique passwords for all of your online accounts. This way, you’re not using the same password for everything or writing passwords down on a piece of paper.
- Automate account takeover prevention – Automating every possible password and account protection measure can be time-consuming, but it’s worth doing it to prevent your SMB’s data from being compromised. This includes monitoring for suspicious activity, like login attempts from unfamiliar IP addresses, and comparing login credentials against compromised password databases.
- Perform dark web scans – Dark web scans can help you find out if your SMB’s data has been compromised and is being sold on the dark web. If the worst should happen and your data is compromised, you can take steps to mitigate the damage, like notifying affected customers and changing your passwords.
- Secure employees’ personal accounts – Your employees’ personal accounts (e.g., their personal email and social media accounts) can also be hacked and used to get into your company’s systems. That’s why it’s crucial to encourage employees to practice good cybersecurity hygiene, like using strong passwords and MFA. Additionally, you should consider creating a BYOD (bring your own device) policy to limit the amount of sensitive company data that’s stored on employees’ personal devices.
Following these tips can help your SMB stay one step ahead of the bad guys and protect your data from the dark web. However, it’s important to remember that no security measure is 100% effective. The best way to protect your data is to have a comprehensive and holistic cybersecurity strategy that includes regular employee training on cybersecurity best practices and incident response plans in case your data is compromised.
Need help getting started? Get in touch with our experts at Refresh Technologies today.