The internet has become a part of our everyday lives. But many people don’t realize that the internet can be a harmful place for both individuals and companies. The dark web is one facet of the internet that can compromise our sensitive data — and it’s important to be mindful of what it is and how it can impact us.
Today, we’re going to discuss what the dark web is, how it can make individuals and companies vulnerable, and tips on how to protect your information.
The dark web is World Wide Web content that exists on darknets, which are overlay networks that use the internet but require specific software, configurations, or authorizations to access. Essentially, the dark web is a portion of the internet that isn’t indexed by search engines, making it home to many cybercriminals.
Everything isn’t illegal on the dark web though. For instance, journalists might use it to access specific information to develop a story. However, since many cybercriminals exist on the dark web, it’s important to be aware of the ways in which it can be harmful to us.
The dark web allows cybercriminals to purchase things like credit card numbers, counterfeit money, hacked accounts, and software that helps them hack into computers. Additionally, cybercriminals will use the dark web to sell an individual’s personal information.
Many people confuse the difference between the deep and dark web. While they are similar, they aren’t the same. The deep web refers to anything on the internet that is not indexed by Google, meaning it won’t be accessible via a search engine. Things like medical records, membership websites, and confidential corporate web pages are some of the things that make up the deep web.
The dark web, on the other hand, is a subset of the deep web that is hidden intentionally and is involved in illegal niches. Accessing the dark web requires the use of a browser called Tor. This allows users to search anonymously by routing your web page request through a series of proxy servers rendering your IP address unidentifiable and untraceable.
The criminal activities that occur on the dark web can directly affect individuals and companies. Unfortunately, the dark web goes beyond law enforcement’s reach, leading to issues like scams, malware, and ransomware.
More often than not, a cybercriminal will use the dark web to expose or sell the personal information of an individual or company. This makes it easier for credentials to be compromised such as usernames, passwords, and financial information.
For instance, a common way that cybercriminals will get someone’s information to post or sell it on the dark web is through phishing. Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals impersonate legitimate organizations via email, text message, advertisement, or other means in order to steal sensitive information.
Email phishing is a common method for cybercriminals. Ultimately, what happens is that the cybercriminal will send an email that appears legitimate with the hopes that you will click on its contents, allowing your system to be infected with a virus.
While these emails may seem legit on the surface, there are discrete warning signs that it isn’t valid such as a slightly different email address or an email with a sense of urgency. If the cybercriminal achieves their goal, the stolen data is often posted to the dark web and sold to buyers.
This process is how identity theft is started, doing a lot of damage to individuals as well as businesses. For this reason, it’s important that you can effectively secure your sensitive information to mitigate the risk of being vulnerable to a cyberattack. Here are a few ways to help ensure your sensitive information isn’t subject to the dark web.
Arming yourself with knowledge is the first step in improving your cybersecurity measures. Let’s take a look at some proactive measures you can take to ensure your sensitive information doesn’t end up on the dark web by cybercriminals.
For starters, companies — and even individuals, can benefit from signing up for a dark web monitoring service. Simply put, dark web monitoring is the process of searching for and keeping track of personal information found on the dark web.
Essentially, dark web monitoring services enable you to find out whether your personal information is somewhere on the dark web. These services will scan hundreds of thousands of websites each day to find any personal information on the internet that a criminal could use to steal your identity. Some things a dark web monitoring service will scan for include:
In addition to dark web monitoring services, it’s always important to use complex passwords whether you are an individual or a company. So much of what we do is online and because of this, it’s easy to create the same or similar password across all accounts for convenience.
But this makes it easier for cybercriminals to hack your sensitive information, leading to a host of problems. With that said, creating strong, complex passwords for each website helps secure your information as it will be more difficult for hackers to guess your password.
Along with this, it’s important to change your passwords regularly. Ideally, it’s a good idea to change your password every 90 days to make it difficult for intruders to steal information.
Multi-factor authentication is also encouraged as it adds an extra layer of protection, which can help prevent financial fraud and identity theft. Multi-factor authentication is a method that requires you to provide two or more verification factors in order to gain access to information such as an online account.
This extra layer of protection is not only ideal but is essential when it comes to limiting the risk of your information being stolen by a cybercriminal. Multi-factor authentication is effective because it enhances security by going beyond a username and password.
Some additional verification methods that might be required is a one-time password that usually contains a 4-8 digit code sent to your phone or email. Other verification methods might include fingerprints or voice recognition.
The idea of your personal information existing on the dark web is certainly scary but the best way to protect it is to take the proper security measures to prevent cybercriminals from accessing your personal information. If you’re a small business in British Columbia that needs to increase cybersecurity to protect your business, consider Coleman Technologies for managed IT services. Contact us today to learn more.