Why you should be concerned about the dark web

What is the Dark Web?

Dark web is a blanket term used to describe part of the World Wide Web that requires special software to access it.  It is also any site that hasn’t been indexed by a search engine, meaning it can only be accessed if you know the specific address.   Special applications used to access the dark web promise secrecy and do not connect a “user” with a “server,” but rather through computers configured to act as nodes.   Messages transferred from one node to another are encrypted so that only the nodes can decode them, making decryption from any other source almost impossible.    Therefore, the dark web is very appealing to criminals because of its anonymity.

As you can imagine, much illegal activity occurs on the dark web through “darknet markets,” activities such as sex trafficking and selling of illegal goods, drugs, and firearms to name a few.   Even scarier uses of the dark web include an Assassination Market, where users can pay to have someone assassinated!  The dark web is not only incredibly popular with cyber attackers, but also ordinary criminals such as pedophiles and terrorist groups.   Most personal information that is stolen will end up on the dark web and criminals will buy and sell YOUR stolen information there.

On the dark web, cyber criminals can purchase crime kits that allow them access to ransomware, malware, and phishing scams, as well as using it to develop, share, and test cyber attacks prior to launching into the real world.  The total amount of revenue generated by criminal activities on the dark web exceeds $100 million per year.   A single data breach can average $3.62 million, for example, and it is extremely difficult for law enforcement to “bust” cyber criminals who are planning an attack and using Bitcoin as payment.    Your business data could be compromised and sold on the dark web!

How can I reduce the risk for my business?

First and foremost… protect yourself and business by staying off of the dark web and avoid the very sophisticated malware lurking around the corner.   Learn as much as possible about how to fight off cyber attackers before they do damage.   Some very basic and necessary precautions are:

  1. Maintain backups and have a disaster recovery plan in place.  For example, if you are infected with ransomware, you will need to do a full system restore from your backups.
  2. Don’t share passwords and be sure to use strong passwords.  No one should be using their birthdate, anniversary, partner’s, child’s or pet’s names, etc. and assume it is a secure password.
  3. Use dual factor authentication as an extra layer of security – require a username and password with an additional piece of information only known to the user.
  4. Educate yourself and your employees on security protocol.  Don’t open attachments from unknown sources, learn to spot phishing attacks, phone and social media scams.  Don’t fall for a scam by providing information or payment to anyone claiming to be from the IRS or your bank, for example.
  5. Work with a trusted IT provider who can ensure your network is protected and all of your software is updated.   Don’t trust your neighbor’s nephew  who is “really good with computers” to be the trusted “IT guy.”

Accent Consulting is providing a FREE dark web scan for any business who contacts us by May 15, 2018.  No strings attached!  We want to help you indentify where your risks are and educate you for the future.  Click the button below to request your dark web scan.

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