About 96% of internet use is not accessible to daily users. What you see online regularly is just a small fraction of what’s out there.
The deep and dark web constitutes the majority of the internet. While this may sound scary to those who don’t know about these parts of the web, they mostly are made up of databases and legal transactions. Still, people love the idea of having secure and anonymous online interactions.
But are these interactions actually untrackable?
Here, we’re going to answer this question and take a look at how the dark web works. Read on to learn what this section of the web can mean for your small business IT services and how you can stay safe against threats.
Categories of the Internet: What Is the Dark Web?
The Clear Web
Generally, there are three categories of the internet. The first, the clear web, is what you are using to read this blog post. Also known as the surface web, this part of the internet is publicly visible so you can access it via search engines like Google.
Online activity on the clear web is completely traceable. You have a search history that people can access if necessary. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are also on the clear web and gather information about user activities for marketing.
The clear web only makes up about 4-5% of the internet. There is a lot more under the surface.
The Deep Web
Beyond the clear web, there is a second online category: the deep web. This part of the web is generally hidden from the eyes of the public because you can’t access it with standard search engines. Instead, you’ll need to access it in other ways.
Most of the deep web is made up of informational databases that owners simply want to keep secure. This might include university registration lists, medical records, and banking information. Authorized users may be able to securely access this information via the clear web assuming that they have the appropriate passwords.
The Dark Web
The dark web is an even deeper area of the internet that makes the user’s IP address anonymous. While the clear and even deep web showcases this unique online identity, the complex systems that run the dark web make it difficult to figure out what computer the dark web user is on.
Many people don’t know how to get on the dark web, but it actually is very simple.
You will need to use the Tor browser to gain access to the deep web. This completely legal service works similarly to Google Chrome or Firefox but grants you access to dark web websites. It also shields your IP to make you anonymous.
You then can begin making searches just as you would on Google. The results that appear will be dark web pages that you otherwise could not access on the clear web. The user simply clicks on the pages that they want to see and begins anonymously browsing.
Can You Be Tracked on the Dark Web?
One of the most appealing things about the dark web is that users are nearly untraceable. Generally, tracking users on the dark web is a task that requires high-level technologies that the government reserves for violent criminals and terrorists. The average user is fairly challenging to find.
However, there are also tracking scripts on some dark web pages. Approximately 27% of pages that dark web researchers found had scripts attached to them, largely from the clear web. If the dark web page’s scripts match surface web scripts, those using it could trace user activity.
This is generally a problem for those using Tor browsers because they serve as a link between the dark and surface webs. If you choose to go on the dark web, there’s a possibility that you will be tracked. Of course, the same applies to hackers that are looking to compromise your business information.
Scanning the Dark Web
Unfortunately, many hackers already know about this issue and switch on script blocking features. They also have higher-level tools that let them access the deep web without the surface-web link that Tor creates. This prevents you from tracking them.
Even if you cannot find these users, you can find out what stolen information is on the dark web. Dark Web ID™ is a monitoring system that looks all over the dark web for information related to you or the business you represent. When you use this technology, you get an immediate notification if something pertaining to your investigation appears.
You cannot be tracked when using these technologies. There’s no way for hackers to find you. You can’t identify them, either, but you can find out what information they put on the web and track that down.
What Happens on the Dark Web?
Accessing the dark web is not illegal. Much of the activity on the dark web is also perfectly legal. People like to engage in secure sports betting, sell legal goods in exchange for bitcoin, and set up embarrassing but harmless blogs.
However, it’s important to note that the dark web does attract a lot of criminal activity. Anonymity through encryption is attractive to cybercriminals.
You likely have already heard horror stories of hired hitmen, drug sales, and human trafficking on the dark web. Luckily, this doesn’t describe the majority of what goes on there. Most illegal dealings on the dark web are scams.
However, hacking and data theft also take place on the dark web. These operations can prove detrimental to any small business, especially those with 20-500 employees that have sensitive information stored on your network.
Hackers and the Dark Web
No matter how well you secure your company’s network, there will be ways for dark web hackers to breach it. Since they’re constantly coming up with new ways to gain access, this is an inevitable truth.
Account compromises can happen via regular user accounts, admin accounts, domain accounts, and VPN. There are a myriad of dark web software systems that they may use to anonymously scan your network and look for vulnerabilities.
Once they find a hole in your security system, they can exploit the vulnerability and get access to information meant only for authorized users. They can then use other hacking tools to move through the network and gather sensitive data.
Unfortunately, you may not know when this is taking place. Some hackers have the tools necessary to secure their entrance without alerting anyone.
While many cybercriminals can be immediately identified by high-level outsourced tech support companies, others won’t alter your network trends at all. That’s why it’s important to constantly be alert and keep your network security updated.
Cybercriminals Selling Information
At this point, it’s fairly clear what the hackers’ endgame is. They don’t simply want to steal your information and keep it for no reason. Instead, they want to make a profit.
Some hackers simply want to exploit personal information for their own gain. They make get new credit cards in the names of those whose information they stole. They also may make online purchases, withdraw funds from checking accounts, and make fraudulent health insurance claims.
Usually, though, monetizing data theft means selling it for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on one of many illegal dark web forums. Buyers can buy stolen data that fits their specific needs and use it for whatever activities they like. This means applying for loans in a victim’s name, filing false taxes, and using email information for phishing.
The price of stolen information ranges depending on where criminals sell it. Credit card details may cost $150-240 while PayPal accounts can cost $500-1000.
It really depends on the balance of the card or the account, but prices are low. This means that more people will be willing to buy your stolen business data. It also means that hackers will need to strike more often and steal more information if they want to be lucrative.
Securing Your Business Against Dark Web Hackers
A single breach can cost an SMB $4.24 million. Because of this high cost, it’s important that you think about the threat that dark web hackers pose and proactively combat them. This means hiring an experienced managed IT professional like those that work for Be Structured.
Our experts have the knowledge and tools necessary to help you build a battle plan to keep dark web hackers out of your network. You can invest in managed two-factor authentication tools. These digital walls serve as a barrier between hackers and the information that you’re looking to secure.
People can only access information behind an encrypted firewall if their mathematical code matches that of the firewall. These codes serve as a key that’s only accessible to authorized users. Even if a hacker found a vulnerability and penetrated your network, they would need to exploit multiple vulnerabilities in this second, equally-strong barrier.
Be Structured’s professionals can also monitor your regular network trends and instantly notify you of any blips in the usual patterns. This alerts you to when you should be monitoring the network and planning for disaster recovery possibilities.
Phishing Email Training
Employee negligence and poor training cause about 40% of data breaches. That’s why sufficiently training workers is a critical step in securing your network from threats on the dark web.
Put your employees through a thorough and strict training regimen. Make sure that you showcase the difference between valid emails vs those intended to get dark web hackers onto your network. It’s critical that they learn to spot fake email addresses, giveaways that a subject line is fake, and more.
Our Bullphish ID email training tool makes testing your results simple. You can create a fake phishing email and send it out to employees at random over the course of multiple days. This lets you see who clicks on the phishing email and requires more training.
Those that do click on the email can reap the benefits of multiple training materials. These include training videos, quizzes, group management, and visual reports. You can then send out another fake phishing email to ensure that this training was effective.
Dark Web Monitoring
We brushed on the fact that you can monitor information on the dark web earlier. But how exactly does this work?
Dark Web ID™ looks at all possible areas of the dark web to find information pertaining to your organization. It does this by using a combination of sophisticated artificial intelligences. These high-tech bots and Be Structured’s human experts work together to identify, analyze, and monitor each piece of data on the dark web to identify any compromising information about your business.
The software looks over all dark web data in real-time. This ensures that you don’t get outdated information. You’ll always know exactly what information about your business is out there.
One key benefit to Dark Web ID™ is that you’ll know whether a data breach has taken place. You can implement damage control when necessary. This means upgrading your security, but it also means preparing employees and clients for potential trouble by informing them of the breach.
Knowing what information is out there also helps you to identify where and when potential breaches may happen. You may be able to find out if your information is coming up consistently on specific sites or areas of the dark web. You can then research these areas, learn more about them, and be better prepared in the event of a future breach.
Boost Your Network Security With Local IT Support
The idea that hackers can steal your business information and sell it on the dark web is a scary prospect. However, you can see what information is out there when you work with the tools that a managed IT provider has to offer. Now that you know how to secure your business against most dark web threats, it’s time to get started.
We’re committed to keeping your business secure and ensuring that network breaches do not devastate you. Contact Be Structured with any remaining questions you have about dark web monitoring and to come up with a security plan that’s right for your specific needs.