03 Oct Dark Web Guide: What The Dark Web Is, And Why It Matters For Your Business
The realm of the Internet is vast, and not all of it is as open or as easily accessible as the social media profiles or business websites that we visit daily. Beyond the surface lies a murky and hidden area called the dark web. And while this might sound like the stuff of a Hollywood thriller, its existence and impact on businesses is very real. In this piece of our dark web guide, we’ll delve into the depths of the dark web and explore why it matters for your business, while our next piece offers guidance on how to protect your business in relation to the dark web.
What is the dark web?
At its core, the dark web is a part of the Internet that isn’t indexed by traditional search engines. This means you can’t just pop into Google and find dark websites – you’d need specialised software, most notably the Tor browser. The dark web is just a fraction of what is known as the deep web, which encompasses all parts of the web that are not indexed by search engines. The deep web is not totally synonymous with the dark web, it also includes mundane things like private databases and subscription services.
The dark web, in contrast, is intentionally hidden and can be a harbour for illegal activities. While not everything on the dark web is illicit, it has gained a reputation primarily due to its association with criminal activity.
Why the dark web matters for your business
The dark web matters for businesses because it’s also the harbour that cyber criminals will dock into to profit from exploiting individuals and businesses alike. The dark web is important for businesses to be aware of for the following reasons:
Data breaches and selling of information: One of the biggest threats the dark web poses to businesses is the sale of breached data. If your company experiences a data breach, there’s a strong likelihood that the stolen information will end up on the dark web. This could include anything from email addresses and passwords to credit card details or even trade secrets.
Reputation and trust: If your business’s data is found on the dark web, it’s not just a financial loss you need to worry about. The subsequent damage to your company’s reputation can be lasting and even more devastating. Customers place their trust in companies to safeguard their data, and a breach can shatter that trust.
Corporate espionage: Beyond just selling data for quick cash, there are actors on the dark web interested in corporate espionage. Trade secrets, future plans, or even insider information could be valuable to competitors or those with a vested interest against your company, with this risk rising for companies of a larger size.
How cyber criminals use the dark web to exploit businesses
Cyber criminals not only use the dark web to cash in on their malicious exploits, but they also use it to find ways to compromise businesses that fall under their radar.
Just as how Software as a Service (SaaS) has taken off in recent years, so too has Ransomware as a Service (RaaS). Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common, and they can be devastating for businesses. Cyber criminals no longer need to be tech-savvy coders; they can now simply purchase RaaS on the dark web. This means that even less skilled individuals can launch sophisticated ransomware attacks against companies, demanding payment in exchange for the release of data.
Another way that cyber criminals arm themselves to exploit businesses, is through phishing kits and exploit tools. For those who fancy a more hands-on approach, the dark web provides an array of tools and kits to facilitate cyber-attacks. This includes tools that can exploit vulnerabilities in a company’s software, or even ready-made phishing kits designed to trick employees into handing over sensitive information.
Finally, individuals and even unscrupulous organisations may turn to hiring hackers on the dark web to wreak havoc on targets of their choice. If someone wishes to target a business but lacks the know-how, they can easily hire a hacker to do their dirty work. From distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to more intricate intrusions, there’s a service provider for every malicious intent.
The dark web isn’t just a shadowy realm of intrigue and mystery, it represents a very tangible and real threat to businesses globally. It provides an incentive for trying to compromise the data and systems of businesses and also equips cyber criminals with tools for targeting businesses at scale. But threat not! In our next piece on the dark web, we will offer guidance on how to address the risks that it presents.
By understanding the risks associated with cyber criminality and the dark web, as well as implementing robust cyber security measures, businesses can better protect themselves from the potential pitfalls that this hidden part of the web brings. It’s not just about protecting data; it’s about safeguarding reputation, trust, and the very future of your business. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and consider regular cyber security audits as part of your business strategy.
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