What is the Dark Web?

A place where cybercriminals can pay a few hundred dollars for everything they need to hack an organization like yours…

Every device that connects to the internet has what’s known as a unique internet protocol (IP) address. This allows anyone to identify the location of a particular device that’s connected to the internet, and when required, law enforcement are able to obtain their name and physical address through an internet service provider. Essentially, this makes it incredibly easy to identify people on the internet. But the dark web is different. The dark web is a frequently misunderstood network, but ultimately, it’s fairly similar to the internet wherein you’re able to access forums, websites, and communication tools.

So what makes the dark web different from the regular web?

United States Naval Research Laboratory created the dark web, also referred to as the onion router or tor, to have a greater degree of anonymity, especially for those working within the government or law enforcement. Tor, initially released in 2004, encrypts traffic to keep the end-users anonymous and unlinkable to their devices. Websites found on the dark web end in .onion rather than .com or similar variations we see and they can only be opened if you have specific software to access the dark web.

How is the dark web used?

When you think of the dark web, you probably think of criminals selling guns, drugs, and other illegal activities. This isn’t far from the truth, but although the dark web is commonly used for illegal purposes, there are some reputable purposes as well. There are many legitimate organizations that take advantage of the dark web for wholesome, and in many cases, honorable purposes, including:

  • Facebook
  • The Office on Drugs and Crime
  • The United Nations Law Enforcement Department

But due to its anonymity, cybercriminals do commit illegal activities without being caught. And eventually, when they are caught, another dozen hackers take their place. The Silk Road is a great example – offering an online marketplace for criminals to sell weapons and drugs. In 2013, the FBI took them down. Shortly after, quite a few copycat websites took its place.

Why should business owners be concerned?

Sure, the dark web is filled with illegal activities, but why does this concern business owners? Well, it’s not only counterfeit money and weapons found for sale, but stolen data and hacking services as well. In fact, someone can easily purchase all the necessary tools and means to commit a huge cyber-attack. There are over 50 different categories of goods and services dedicated to this very purpose. Check out some of the prices:

  • Hacking emails: $40 and up
  • DDoS attack: $50 a day
  • Targeted attack: $4,500 and up
  • Infecting with ransomware: $750 and up
  • Hacking websites: $150 and up

Not only is it incredibly easy for cybercriminals to obtain what they need to attack businesses like yours, but they’re also able to sell stolen information on the dark web. If they manage to successfully attack an organization, every single piece of data is valuable:

  • Social Security numbers: $1 each
  • Online payment login information: $20 – $200 each
  • Credit or debit card details: $5 – $115 each
  • Driver’s license: $25 eac
  • Usernames & passwords to your network
  • Passports: $1,000 each
  • Medical records $100 – $1,000 each

Naturally, law enforcement are constantly monitoring and shutting down illegal activity, but sensitive data gets sold and used incredibly fast. This can result in:

  • Identity theft
  • Financial theft
  • Information kidnapping (Ransomware)
  • Information theft
  • Compliance violations
  • And much more

At the end of the day, it’s vital for you to be aware of what can happen if you’re hacked or end up having sensitive data stolen.

So how do you stay safe?

The first step to staying safe is protecting your sensitive data from hackers. This means you need to work with an IT company that specializes in cybersecurity. They will be able to implement:

  • Comprehensive security solutions, including firewalls, web-content filtering, antivirus software, two-factor authentication, threat monitoring, vulnerability assessments, and more.
  • A detailed cybersecurity policy that gives your team proper protocols to follow in terms of staying safe online.
  • Employee training wherein your team is trained on what to look for and how to respond to threats.

Plus, dark web monitoring should be used to keep an eye out for any sensitive data at rest or in transit – making sure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Call us at 409-727-7080 or email us at Info@discoveryit.com to learn more about the dark web and how we can help you stay safe from the threats lurking out there.

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