Published 12th October 2023 by | Cybersecurity

Is your company data for sale on the Dark Web?

If you have been keeping your finger on the pulse of cyber security over the past few years, you cannot have missed the warnings about the Dark Web.

It has become so prominent that even mainstream media – UK daily newspapers, terrestrial TV channels and radio shows – have carried numerous reports about the growing problem of sensitive company details being traded by hackers on the Dark Web.

Key Takeaways

  • The Dark Web is a hidden part of the internet, residing below the traditional web, and comprises a small fraction of the entire web.
  • The Dark Web poses significant threats to company data security, including the trading and exposure of sensitive information.
  • Companies can monitor the Dark Web to detect potential data compromises and breaches, using specialised tools.
  • Advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are being used to mitigate Dark Web-related threats.
  • Ransomware attacks involve stealing sensitive data and threatening to sell it on the Dark Web unless a ransom is paid.
  • Hackers often use phishing scams to trick unsuspecting users into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
  • Acknowledging the existence of the Dark Web is crucial, as standard technologies and web browsers cannot access it or track its users.

What is the Dark Web?

The Dark Web is part of the internet, but as the name implies, the Dark Web exists way down below the ‘traditional’ Web (also referred to as the ‘Clearnet’) in an area known as the ‘Deep Web’.

The Deep Web is the term for the multitude of connected but hidden websites that cannot be accessed by search engines because they require authentication via passwords and other login credentials.

In fact, any password-protected website and all content not indexed by standard search engines, is part of the Deep Web. Some estimates suggest that the Deep Web accounts for up to 99% of the entire internet, with Dark Websites comprising just 0.005% of the Web, according to analysts Recorded Future.

Why does it matter?

The Dark Web’s implications on company data security are vast and varied, involving several aspects that can significantly affect a business’s cybersecurity posture. The risk of your data being sold on the Dark Web ranges from financial to competitive to reputational:

  1. Data Trading and Exposure: Companies may discover their sensitive or proprietary data being traded or exposed on the Dark Web, which represents a significant risk to their intellectual property, financial stability, and reputation​​.
  2. Monitoring and Threat Intelligence: By monitoring the Dark Web, companies can identify if their data has been compromised and is being traded or exposed illicitly. Specialised software can be used to search for mentions of the company’s name, domain name, or sensitive data on the Dark Web, helping to uncover data breaches and potentially enabling faster response to such incidents​​.
  3. Cyber Risks Understanding and Mitigation: As Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs become more common, companies need to better understand the cyber risks associated and how the Dark Web can facilitate the exploitation of these risks. Mitigating these risks necessitates an understanding of how data can be misused or traded on the Dark Web​​.
  4. Technological Advancements in Mitigation: Advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are being employed to mitigate the risks associated with the Dark Web. These technologies can help in better understanding and tackling the evolving threats emanating from the Dark Web​.
  5. Awareness and Preparedness: Businesses need to be informed about how the Dark Web operates and how it can affect them, including the risks associated with data breaches and the trading of stolen data. This security awareness can lead to better preparedness and potentially more robust cybersecurity strategies​.
  6. Legal and Ethical Dilemmas: Companies face legal and ethical dilemmas when their data is found on the Dark Web, such as whether to attempt to buy back their data. The correct course of action can be complex and might require legal counsel​.

In some circumstances, companies suffering a data breach struggle to regain the brand trust that they had carefully built over the years. You can find out if your details are being traded on the Dark Web by requesting a Dark Web intelligence report.

Dark Web Research

Cryptocurrency and increased ransomware risks

Cryptocurrency is the preferred cash alternative for hackers who extort funds via ransomware, as it allows them to remain anonymous. There has also been a huge rise in ransomware attacks – whereby hackers steal sensitive data and threaten to sell it on the Dark Web unless a ransom is paid.

The technique widely used by these criminals has been phishing scams aimed at tricking unsuspecting computer users into clicking on malicious links or otherwise parting with password information to allow access to sensitive data. Typically, users are contacted by a fraudster masquerading as an official organisation.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a huge increase in ransomware attacks, as these hackers sought to exploit less-than-security-savvy employees who were suddenly working from home. The UK saw scammers pretending to be working as Test and Trace scheme employees, HMRC, grant-awarding bodies and local councils, as well as the usual banks and supermarkets.

Criminals can even buy ready-made “phishing kits and templates” on the Dark Web, which allow them to impersonate Microsoft, Apple, UPS and a whole range of other well-known organisations.

Company data at risk

Confidential corporate information targeted by hackers can take many forms – in fact they’ll usually take anything they can get. From employee and bank account details, to intellectual property and prized customer data such as credit card details.

The key point to remember is that the Dark Web is there, it is real and you can’t afford to ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s called the ‘Dark Web’ for a reason: standard technologies and Web browsers cannot get access to, or track down users or the information they are peddling.

You won’t necessarily even know if or when your precious and confidential data is being traded by criminals. It may be months or even years until you discover it’s happened. Worse still, even if you discover a data breach, you won’t necessarily ever know what’s happened to the data that was compromised.

Find out if your company credentials are on the Dark Web

You might now be asking:

1) Are any of our company’s confidential data out there on the Dark Web?

2) If so, what can we do about it?

The answer to both questions is that help is at hand:

Alliance Solutions can provide a Dark Web report that provides a sample of your email addresses or domains that have been compromised.

If you choose to take the next step, we can help you take the remedial action to address issues that led to this happening and to prevent future similar events.

We can also provide an ongoing monthly Dark Web monitoring service that gathers and analyses data in close to real time that could indicate when cyberattacks are emanating from the Dark Web.

To accompany this monthly service, we also provide you with intelligence and alerts, so that if your data is found on the Dark Web you can act quickly to mitigate any damage.

That’s Dark Web monitoring, intelligence, alerts and mitigation.

The strong likelihood is that this service from Alliance Solutions will cost you far less than a data breach and the resulting consequences.

Next steps

Contact Alliance Solutions to request your Dark Web report on 0800 292 2100 or via email;

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