You have likely heard about the dark web, an ominous, mysterious corner of the internet where nefarious people band together in the shadows to commit heinous crimes. At least, that’s what it seems to be, right? Although most of us have heard of the dark web plenty of times, you might not know what actually goes on there (apart from the extreme cases that make it to the news), and you may not even know how people are gaining access to this other side of the web. With the vague knowledge from stories in the media, you may instead be left with more questions than answers. Despite the sometimes unclear explanation of it, the nature of the dark web and how to protect yourself and your business from the threats found there is valuable information.
What is the dark web?
First and foremost, let’s define what the dark web is. The dark web, not to be confused with the deep web, is a section of the internet that is only accessible through certain browsers, such as Tor. The networks, or “deepnets,” found there house unindexed content and allow user anonymity via encryption. Another difference between the dark web and what is referred to as the open web or surface web (simply, the internet as most of us know it) is that the dark web is unregulated — a major component of why cybercriminals can thrive through its usage. Before we dive into what cybercriminals have been known to do through the dark web, let’s take a look at who else may benefit from accessing it.
Despite the dark web’s wicked reputation, not every person who uses it has criminal intent or even malintent. Activists, intelligence agencies, whistleblowers, opponents of oppressive regimes, as well as users looking to access otherwise inaccessible content, among others, all can find use for many of the sites on the dark web. Nowadays, however, this part of the internet is associated with everything from illicit drug dealing to sex trafficking to identity theft — and for good reason. The nature of the dark web empowers cybercriminals to have a network at their fingertips that allows them to commit crimes much more easily. Stolen banking logins, hacked accounts, cloned credit cards, fake documents, and countless other illegal items can be easily bought once people locate the sites they are housed on.
As a note, the deep web simply contains private content, as opposed to what was detailed above regarding the dark web. This accounts for 90% of the content on the internet, which is unavailable via search engines and requires a log-in. Some examples of things on the deep web include emails and bank accounts.
Cybersecurity vs. the dark web
Now that you have an idea about what the dark web actually is, the next question is obvious. What threats does the dark web pose to the average person or business? How can we use cybersecurity measures to protect ourselves and our data from the dark web and the bad actors there? The main threat that the dark web poses to the average user is the potential for your information to be stolen and distributed or sold. To protect yourself from these dangers, discover some of the important considerations to make below.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN acts as a way to create a secure connection between a device and a network. Without a VPN, the information being communicated through the internet can be compromised without the end user even realizing it. By using encryption, VPNs hide your IP address, providing you with peace of mind as you browse the internet.
- Enable two-factor authentication. This method of verification authenticates a user’s identity by using two factors — typically a password for the first and some sort of security token as the second. This prevents a bad actor from accessing an account or another piece of private information by only obtaining a password. TFA generally uses a different device or account to confirm a person’s identity.
- Change your passwords. Although this is one of the simplest things you can do to secure your data on the internet, it continues to prove as an effective tactic. Changing your passwords every 90 days or less significantly decreases the likelihood that your accounts will be compromised.
- Be aware of suspicious behavior. In general, careful and smart internet access is always a necessary part of your browsing. Be aware of the websites you use and whether they are secure, especially if you need to provide any form of personal information when using them. Keep even the simplest tactics, such as phishing attacks via email, in mind as you use the internet. And always use firewalls and other security measures on your devices.
Protect your business with GoodSuite
Although the threats posed by the dark web can feel extremely frightening on many fronts, it doesn’t mean you have no control in the matter. Being vigilant about your internet usage and the cybersecurity measures you have in place can easily reduce your risks of being a victim of a cyberattack orchestrated via the dark web. But if you don’t know where to start when it comes to properly protecting your business, fear not — we have the help you need to keep your devices and networks secure.
GoodSuite is California’s premier provider of critical business systems, and we provide our clients with managed IT solutions that can successfully protect their businesses. The experts at GoodSuite can provide your business with a free cyber threat assessment. Then, we can carry out the right tactics to combat any risks you may face in order to keep your business safe. With GoodSuite, you don’t need to worry about your IT measures. We can handle it for you while you focus on your day to day business operations. Interested in discovering more? Request a free quote today, and find out what we can do for you!