Find out what it is and how it may be a danger to your small business.
The Internet can be a scary place. Between phishing, malware and a range of scams, there are many dangers. But there’s an even a darker corner of the web where few people dare to venture—And it can have a wide-reaching effect on your business: The Dark Web.
The Dark Web is a small part of the much larger Deep Web–a common name for a collection of websites that aren’t accessible through normal Internet browsers. These websites are hidden from everyday Internet, or Clearnet, users through the use of overlay networks. They are built on the framework of networks that already exist—And there are lots of them. In fact, the Deep Web makes up the majority of the information online.
Personal information such as school and medical records, bank statements and private emails are all part of the immense Deep Web. To gain access to this information, you must be able to access an overlay network using specialized software and passwords. This is a good thing because it keeps sensitive information safe, and prevents search engines from accessing and indexing it.
The added security of the Deep Web makes it attractive for those who want their online activities to remain anonymous. The Dark Web is a small part of the Deep Web. Unlike the Deep Web which prevents outsiders from accessing information, the owners of dark websites allow anyone with the right browser to access their sites. One of the most popular of these is The Onion Browser, more commonly known as Tor.
So, What’s on the Dark Web?
The Dark Web is like “The Wild West” of the Internet. It’s an area beyond the reach of law enforcement (hence there are no regulations or protection). Although not everyone who uses the Dark Web engages in illicit activities, it has a history of being a platform for political dissidents and corporate whistle blowers—Many visitors are there for less than upstanding reasons.
Most know the Dark Web for its virtual bazaars full of products ranging from illegal drugs and social security numbers, to ready-to-install viruses and hackers for hire. A raid by the FBI and subsequent closure of one the most infamous of these businesses, Silk Road, first alerted many people to the existence of the Dark Web. The Silk Road was one of the largest open marketplaces, operating very much like Amazon where third-party sellers could sell their products (mostly illegal drugs to anonymous buyers). Although Silk Road is closed, and its founder is in prison for life, other illegal businesses still thrive on the Dark Web.
How the Dark Web Can Negatively Affect your Business
Cybercrime costs US businesses billions of dollars each year. The majority of information hackers steal from businesses ends up on the Dark Web for sale to identity thieves and corporate spies.
But, the real danger is that it provides a communication and education training ground for hackers and would-be hackers. Although the competition among different hacking groups is fierce, there’s still a willingness among cyber criminals to share techniques and assist one another.
Be Proactive—Protect Your Business.
When a news story is released regarding a large corporate hack, many of my clients contact me to learn how they can better protect their businesses. The advice I provide involves educating their employees about the dangers of online crime, and developing company procedures to prevent it from occurring. A few of the actionable suggestions I suggest include: