The trouble exists online; make no mistake about it. Data breaches, identity theft, illicit activity, and illegal dealings all take place in a layer of the internet you have probably never visited – the dark web. Unfortunately, this troublesome part of the web can have a huge impact on you and your business.
How did the dark web come to be? In this article, we’ll explore what it is, its origin, and how you can protect your business from the ruthless activity that transpires there.
The Dark Web
Like an iceberg protruding from the sea, only a small percent of which is visible so too is the behemoth known as the internet. When we search through Google or any search engine, we only see an estimated 5% of the total internet. This is the searchable internet. The larger mass of information lies below the surface in the unsearchable deep web and its menacing sub-layer, the dark web.
The deep web is harmless and has a tremendous purpose. This is where private, unsearchable information exists – like email accounts, bank accounts, and government, corporate, and non-profit internal information. The dark web exists within the deep web, but it’s far from harmless.
Created to cloak the online presence of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in the 1990s, the dark web was the perfect space to protect their clandestine communications, gain access to hidden data, and monitor website use while leaving no trace of their dealings. Known as the Onion Routing Project, the software was used by the NRL and other government agencies exclusively until the early 2000s. But in 2004, it went public—effectively creating an anonymous web browser for the masses.
Tor: The Onion Router
The technology that protects users from tracking and surveillance is called The Onion Router (Tor). Normally, when you surf the web, your activity can be traced because you have an IP address tracking your clicks and searches. Tor is a software program that facilitates an anonymous web browser. It uses a random path of encrypted servers to hide a user’s identity. It bounces your IP address to a multitude of locations, donated by users from all over the world. By bouncing the IP address through thousands of relay points, an individual user’s tracks are covered, and their browsing history is virtually untraceable.
Can the Dark Web Impact my Business?
While some anonymous dealings are legitimate and necessary, like identity protection for victims or whistleblowers, far more opportunity exists for illicit and illegal activity under the veil of anonymity. In short, the dark web often protects criminals. Cybercrime can impact your business, no matter what its size, industry, or background.
Cybercriminals can access passwords, account numbers, credit card and banking information, customer data, and much more. All of these pose a huge threat to your day-to-day business. Just last year, the records of over 1 billion Chinese residents were posted for sale on the dark web in a single data breach, while in 2021, the records of more than 700 million LinkedIn users were scraped and posted for sale.
To keep this from happening to your business, you need to know the moment any piece of your company information pops up on the dark web.
Preventing a Cyber Attack
There are two things you can do to protect your business from the threat posed by unscrupulous dark web activity. First, create a robust system of cyber privacy practices. Next, monitor the dark web so you know when your information is out there.
How does your internal team of IT experts do that while they are busy handling your day-to-day IT needs? An experienced cybersecurity company, like California Computer Options, can help your team do both by providing IT support and services to keep your data safe. Reviewing dark web content yourself is a daunting task that can be challenging, time-consuming, and potentially exposes you to unwanted threats. A cybersecurity company is best equipped to gather, interpret, parse, refine, validate, normalize, and enrich the data that is found.
While the dark web does have some benefits, it is largely a haven for illicit and illegal internet activity. Criminals are hard at work developing the next mode of attack to steal identities, money, company assets, and other valuables. Each of us needs to stay one step ahead of them by employing the necessary managed IT service to shut down the threat.
Knowledge and support are key to the security of your organization’s information. California Computer Options offers a free IT security assessment to determine your vulnerability to cyber threats. Find out if your company’s information is already available on the dark web and where to go from there. Request your free security assessment today!