Cybersecurity threats from the dark web and how to protect against them

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Despite the spooky name, the dark web is not a place from a fantasy novel or horror movie, but is a real digital space. Not only that, but the threats from the dark web and the damage they can cause your business are also very real. Here, we’ll examine what the dark web is, the cybersecurity threats lurking within, and what you can do to keep your assets safe from them.

The dark web: A perfect environment for cybercriminals

While there are many who use the dark web to avoid local censorship laws, there are those who use the dark web for their illegal activities. This is because the dark web is part of the internet that cannot be accessed by a normal web browser, like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, and requires special software to reach. 

Unlike a normal browser, a dark web browser (most often TOR) does not simply connect you to the domain you are trying to reach, but instead routes your connection through a series of peer-to-peer networks to make it harder for other parties (mostly law enforcement) to track. The anonymity and ungoverned nature of the dark web therefore makes it a perfect breeding ground for illegal activity. 

What are the different dark web threats?

Because of the capability for anonymity, cyber- and traditional criminals use the dark web to conduct illicit business and sell ill-gotten gains. The threats to your business originating from this digital black market come in two main forms: data and software sales, and criminal services for hire.

Sensitive data for sale

Cybercriminals buy and sell illegal goods on the dark web, and the easiest good to move is data. Prime commodities include troves of passwords and other login credentials, customer credit card and financial information, and other data that can be used to commit crime for monetary gain. A cybercriminal can gain access to your company’s network, steal important data without you knowing, then sell this data to other criminals who use it to attack you or your customers.

The dark web is also the place to go for cybercriminals who want to purchase malware and other software tools to attack company networks. Black hat hackers craft ransomware, spyware, trojans, and more, then sell them to whichever bad actor wants to use them. This causes new kinds of attacks to spread at lightning speed and decentralizes the source of the malware, making it harder to stop.

How to defend yourself

Dark web monitoring is a service that trawls the dark web regularly, looking for stolen data for sale and cross-checking it with data on your company network. If a match is found and it is determined that your data is up for sale, you will be alerted immediately. This way, you can mitigate the damage by changing login credentials or warning your customers about the data breach.

As for defending against the newest malware being sold on the dark web, regular updates and patches are a good start. Cybersecurity organizations and software vendors monitor the dark web as well, looking for the newest kinds of attacks then updating their tools and guidance to protect against them. But you can’t get these newest protections if you don’t update your hardware and software, so perform updates frequently.

Cybercriminals for hire

The dark web makes attacking a company’s network easy and convenient, because a bad actor can just hire someone to do it for them. Buyers can hire cadres of cybercriminals to perform targeted phishing campaigns against your workforce to steal data, DDoS attacks against your servers to bring down your services, and more. Anyone with a grudge against your organization can launch a digital attack on your network if the price is right.

How to defend yourself

Encryption, intrusion detection, and other cybersecurity tools can be used to prevent these specific types of attacks. Furthermore, employee security awareness training creates a culture of vigilance in your organization so that every worker can do their part to spot and prevent the mass attacks. A well-rounded and well-monitored cybersecurity posture can keep you safe from the various kinds of attacks launched from the dark web.

The best way to protect yourself from the threats that grow from the dark web is to hire a cybersecurity specialist like Refresh Technologies. We not only monitor the dark web for your compromised information, but we also employ sophisticated security measures to fend off various threats borne from the dark web. Call us today to protect your business!