Dark Web: What Is It And How Do Hackers Use It To Exploit Businesses?

There was a record-breaking number of data breaches in 2021. 1,862 instances were reported last year according to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Data Breach Report. The tsunami of data breaches can partially be attributed to the prevalence of the dark web, the festering internet underworld where criminal activities like drug dealing and human trafficking run rampant. 

While it can be safe to browse the darknet, so long as you don’t do anything illegal, it’s best to steer clear. It’s also important to note that even if you never touch the dark web, darknet criminals can still wreak havoc on your business if you’re not careful about how you use the surface web

Internet users need to use special software and web servers to access darknet information which can be burdensome. However, with anonymous browsers like TOR, this is becoming a lot easier to do, but it’s still highly unlikely that anyone within your organization will be able to do so on company hardware or the company network. 

So by now, you’re probably wondering how can my business be at risk if I’m not accessing the dark web and neither are my employees. The answer is “fullz”. 

Stolen Employee and Consumer Data

“Fullz” stands for “full package”, which refers to personally identifiable information, says Adam Levin, owner of Cyberscout, co-founder of credit.com, and former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. The ‘fullz” is a popular product sold and purchased on the dark web and includes vital identifying information like a person’s name, social security number, birth date, account numbers, and other data that essentially helps the buyers steal the person’s identity. 

If this information is stolen from your company website, it could be disastrous for your company’s reputation. But that’s far from the only risk. Your business could also be placed in financial jeopardy. 

Stolen Company Information

Company credit cards, intellectual property, and insider secrets are prime targets for internet hackers. The dark web has acted as a catalyst behind numerous corporate data breaches and that’s unlikely to change in 2022. Digital assets and data may be stolen by cybercriminals that target proprietary information and hold it for ransom, reveal company news, attempt to sway stock value for publicly traded companies, or steal the identities of key decision-makers. 

What is the Dark Web?

The dark web is a part of the internet that is inaccessible via traditional search engines and its content isn’t indexed. In 2018, researcher Dr. Michael McGuires found that over half of the content on the dark web could be considered illicit and that the number of dark web listings that could harm businesses was up by 20% since 2016. Today, roughly 60% of the content on the dark web could harm enterprises. Some items that could pose a threat to business security in the event of a network breach include:

  • Malware, Spyware, Ransomware, etc.
  • Trojans and Keyloggers
  • Email Phishing
  • Loss of intellectual property
  • Lost customer and employee data

This is just a short list, and each additional item can only make matters worse for business owners. The dark web is a phenomenal solution for anonymous communications in countries that restrict free speech or for individuals looking to access whistleblower websites, however, for your company, it’s best to protect yourself against its negative aspects sooner rather than later. 

Stop Dark Web Data Breaches

Once the dark web has company, consumer, or staff data– there’s virtually nothing that you can do about it. That’s why it’s essential to focus on taking preventative measures to mitigate security threats before there’s a problem. 

Set Security Protocols and Educate Staff

The end user, aka the person using the device, is the weakest link– especially in the age of remote and hybrid work. Staff members may be using unsecured networks or using unsafe browsing habits. Ensure that all of your employees know how to spot malware and train them on best web browsing practices. 

Set Staff Clearance Levels

Not every employee needs to be privy to sensitive corporate information. By isolating data within the departments that actually need it, you can prevent cyber threats from ever becoming an issue. And if there is a breach, this practice could potentially minimize the scope of the damage. 

Develop a Comprehensive Corporate Cybersecurity Policy

Your company cybersecurity plan should outline procedures for data security and implement a strong technology infrastructure. Most businesses these days rely heavily on the internet. This means there are more opportunities for information to be mismanaged, hackers to access trade secrets, data breaches to occur, and ever-increasing malware threats. That’s why your cybersecurity policy must be comprehensive enough for all employees, contractors, volunteers, and key decision-makers to refer to. It should also cover potential network and hardware threats. Some points you’ll want to cover in your policy include:

  • Confidential data handling
  • Personal and company devices
  • Safe email use
  • Secure passwords
  • Secure data transfer protocols
  • Disciplinary action

Read here for more information about the basic components that should be included in every corporate cybersecurity policy or contact Computer CPR in Southlake, Texas for help developing a custom solution to suit your industry and business needs. 

Reset Passwords

Require your staff to regularly update their passwords and advise them to avoid using the same password twice. Dark web users frequently share passwords, so if a single website is compromised, hackers may then have access to not only your employee’s personal information but also every client website they touch. 

Computer CPR– Fort Worth Managed Cybersecurity Services

Ignoring cyberthreats and postponing preventive action is no longer an option for small businesses, enterprises, or corporations. No matter the size of your business, your company could be targeted by dark web hackers looking to capitalize on your misfortune. If you own or manage a business in Fort Worth, Southlake, Keller, Trophy Club, Grapevine, or in the neighboring areas– call Computer CPR to protect your company against cyber threats today. 

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