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Why Business Owners are Concerned About the Dark Web

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Almost every day in the news, business owners hear about data breaches compromising confidential information. Have you ever wondered what cybercriminals do with the sensitive data they steal? The stolen data is misused to compromise your online identity, make fraudulent purchases, and is sold to unauthorized third parties. Cybercriminals also use the stolen information to hack into other accounts you maintain to steal more information, data, and money without your knowledge.

So, what is the dark web? Why should you be concerned about what is on the dark web? How do you know if your business data is being sold on the dark web? These are just a few of the questions we will cover. Read on and find out what steps small to midsize businesses can take to enhance cybersecurity and avoid becoming victims of the dark web.

What is the dark web?

The internet is a massive ocean of information consisting of eight layers, starting with the surface web. The surface web where you go to access familiar websites business professionals often visit, including search engines like Google, Bing, etc., and media sites like Forbes, Bloomberg Business Week, and WSJ, to name a few. 

The dark web is a small subset of the deep web and is only accessible using special browsers like TOR (The Onion Router), a proxy server, or by modifying your hardware. Identities and locations of users are unable to be tracked and the encryption technology routes guarantee anonymity.

The deep web comprises 96% of the web, with the dark web at the first level. It is the most closed component of the internet, not indexed by search engines, and requires browsers such as TOR to access. Due to the dark web's anonymity, a significant amount of illegal activities occur there.

What kind of business assets are sold on the dark web?

Business information assets on the dark web include:

  • Credit card numbers and login credentials (usernames and passwords) for web platforms like Zoom or Skype
  • Login credentials for websites or email accounts
  • Bank account routing numbers are available to commit financial fraud
  • Voter registration info, social security numbers (SSNs), health data, employee login credentials, email IDs, and other personally identifiable information (PII)

These items are sufficient for threat actors to commit serious identity theft and financial fraud, or exploit the information further for a bigger payday.


Why business owners are concerned about the dark web?

SMB owners and managers are concerned about the dark web, yet many need to learn what exists their that could potentially damage their small business. Here are the results businesses might experience if their information assets are compromised and available to buy and sell on the dark web:

  1. Loss of data: The most significant threat includes data privacy violation involving the loss of critical and confidential information that malicious actors use to commit fraud on the dark web.
  2. Brand reputational damage: Customers avoid dealing with organizations that cannot guarantee their data security. This impacts the brand’s reputation in the market.
  3. Financial consequences: Loss of critical data and credentials can result in threat actors launching ransomware attacks and financial fraud. Consequently, the business suffers losses while dealing with lawsuits or regulatory fines that further impact their bottom line.
  4. Compromised credentials that could lead to a data breach: For a small fee, malicious actors purchase logins and gather more information that can be sold, steal money, or use the credentials to impersonated.
  5. Encouragement for threat actors: The dark web presents lucrative opportunities for threat actors because a ready-made market is available for purchasing data.


How SMBs can keep data exactly where it should be, safe and secure

Your SMB must prioritize following effective and efficient safeguards like those listed below to protect your data and avoid it being sold on the dark web:

  • Regular cybersecurity awareness training: A lack of cybersecurity awareness is the prime reason for cyberattacks within your network. Therefore, conducting sessions such as phishing email simulations to familiarize your team with phishing and other methods malicious actors employ to steal data.
  • Adopting industry best practices and building robust cybersecurity procedures: Your business should employ the latest industry best practices and have robust cybersecurity procedures to protect your network from compromised information assets getting released on the dark web.
  • Deploying dark web monitoring and response tools: The dark web threat can be ominous. Conducting dark web scans regularly with the use of dark web monitoring tools will fill security gaps and prevent information leakages.
  • Leveraging a trusted managed services provider (MSP): Partnering with a trusted managed security services provider will give you access to tools that monitor and scan the dark web for compromised data.
  • Stay alert and vigilant: Your number one line of defense is your employees. Implementing company-wide cybersecurity policies, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and long, phrase-like passwords on all logins, will prevent unauthorized users from accessing private data.


Is your business data up for grabs on the dark web? Here’s what to do…

With the right IT security service provider, tools and procedures in place, business owners are able to greatly reduce their risk. Instead, we’ve listed alternative solutions to ensure your information’s safety:

  • Look for suspicious activity: Unusual activity on your email account could indicate that sensitive information has been compromised. Signs of compromised information include changing the recovery email address and phone number.
  • Use specific tools to check for data compromise:  Tools are available for businesses that regularly scan the dark web for database dumps, enabling businesses to check whether their data is for sale.
  • Leverage an expert’s experience and skillset: Lower your security risk by engaging a proactive security strategy and technical team. A trusted and expert security service provider like CoreTech can help you craft those strategies and provide the required technology and people support.

Investment in dark web monitoring services offered by an MSP could be one of the best decisions for your business. Their dedicated tools, designed to keep dark web complexities in mind, can help you scan the dark web for compromised information.


Contact CoreTech to receive a FREE dark web scan today!

Business owners should know the threats that exist on the dark web and equip their environment with the safeguards and security controls to deal with the risks 24/7/365. The best way to mitigate these risks is to partner with a managed security services provider that provides human and machine intelligence to search the dark web to identify, analyze and proactively monitor for compromised credentials. They then provide instructions to you and take appropriate security steps to protect your business.

At CoreTech, we offer a free dark web scan which scours the dark web. We will provide a report of the findings. Avoid compromised credentials, or even financial and reputational damage, and request your scan today!

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Topics: Data Breach, Network Security, Alert