What do businesses need to know about the dark web?

What do businesses need to know about the dark web?

As the cybersecurity landscape evolves, business owners need to protect their organization from emerging security threats. Aside from malware and phishing, the dark web is also becoming a concern.

What is the dark web?

The dark web is an area of the internet only accessible using special web browsers like Tor. Such browsers essentially connect to a network of virtual and highly encrypted tunnels, making it difficult to track web servers and dark web browsing activity.

The dark web is an area of the internet only accessible using special web browsers like Tor.

The dark web has legitimate uses, such as accessing geo-restricted websites, using anonymous email services, and circumventing government censorship. However, it is also used by threat actors to trade illegal and dangerous items such as drugs, child pornography, and weapons. What’s more, it is where cybercriminals buy and sell stolen information such as:

  • Email addresses
  • Passwords
  • Social Security numbers
  • Passport information
  • Credit and debit card numbers
  • Bank accounts
  • Phone numbers
  • Medical records
  • Residential addresses

Are the dark web and the deep web similar?

While the terms dark web and deep web are sometimes used interchangeably, the two are actually different. The deep web, also known as the invisible or hidden web, refers to areas of the internet that cannot be found by typical search engines. Deep web content includes emails, chats, private social media content, electronic bank statements, and electronic health records.

Is the dark web dangerous to businesses?

The dark web isn't inherently dangerous. Accessing the dark web doesn't immediately put you on the government watch list. But if you don't know how to safely navigate the dark web, you could be leaving your business vulnerable to cyberattacks. For starters, many sites on the dark web may not have the same protections implemented on normal websites. That means you have an increased likelihood of seeing malware-laced pop-ups, online scams, and fraudulent web forms.

If your organization suffers a data breach, your information could be listed on the dark web. Plus, if an employee gains access to the dark web using your company network and accesses illegal material, your company may be implicated in lawsuits and criminal investigations.

How can you defend your business from the dark web?

You can take the following measures to protect your organization from the dangers of the dark web:

1. Don't go to the dark web unless needed

The dark web is frequented by hackers and cybercriminals, which can make it a risky environment to browse in. Unless you need to check if your data has been breached or if you plan to access geo-blocked content, it's best to avoid the dark web altogether.

2. Conduct regular cybersecurity awareness training

Even if your IT infrastructure is equipped with the best security software, it takes only one employee mistake to compromise your organization's data. It’s therefore important to conduct cybersecurity awareness training regularly.

Teach your employees what they can encounter on the dark web, how data is accessed, and how to mitigate the risk of data breaches. For example, cybercriminals use phishing scams to steal confidential information and sell it on the dark web. To prevent your staff from falling for such scams, conduct live phishing simulations by sending out a fake email to everyone in the company, and provide further training to those who failed the test.

Finally, provide clear guidance on safe internet usage in your employee manual. This includes policies about the websites employees are and aren’t allowed to visit. You should also prohibit the usage of Tor and similar applications so none of your employees can run it on their PC.

3. Seek the help of a managed IT services provider (MSP)

Some MSPs provide dark web monitoring services, which involve systematically scanning dark web forums, marketplaces, and websites for your company's compromised data. Such services alert you to previously undetected data breaches and give you the opportunity to take action before your data is exploited.

Protecting your Baltimore, Annapolis, or Towson business from the dangers of the dark web can be tricky. Make it easy by partnering with NetQuest. We will monitor your IT infrastructure 24/7/365 and protect your sensitive data from cyberattacks. Get a FREE assessment from us today.

Improve your overall cybersecurity posture by empowering your workforce to recognize and prevent social engineering attacks. Our FREE eBook will teach you how to design and implement a cybersecurity awareness training program that works.Learn more here
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