Today most people use the Internet for good intentions, however some exploit it for ill intent using what is known as the Dark Web and small businesses need to understand the risks.
What is the Dark Web?
There is a good chance you and your employees will spend time daily on the Web researching clients, checking competitors or searching for information. They are not accessing the Dark Web. The Dark Web is usually used for illegal activity be it black market drug sales, illegal firearms sales or illicit pornography.
The Dark Web’s collection of websites is inaccessible using standard search engines or browsers as the Dark Web users use what is known as Tor or I2P encryption tools to hide their identity and activity, and they use spoofed IP addresses. You need to be using one of the above services to access the Dark Web.
You would also need to know where to find the site you are looking for, there are directories, but they are unreliable as the people on the Dark Web do not want their victims to find them. Ultimately you do not want your employees to be on the Dark Web.
So why do we need to know about it? Because Dark Web users can buy:
- usernames and password
- counterfeit money
- stolen credit card numbers and subscription credentials
- software to hack into computers
- operational, financial or customer data
- intellectual property or trade secrets
- hire a hacker to attack your computers
The Dark Web business risk
The Dark Web itself is not illegal. It is used by law enforcement agencies to try and track criminals using it, along with journalists trying to get information. It is also used in countries where open communication is prohibited.
The number of Dark Web listings that could harm your business is growing and a 2019 research study found that 60% of all listings could harm your business and that number has risen by 20% since 2016.
Business risks from these Dark Web listings include:
- undermining brand reputation
- loss of competitive advantage
- IP theft
- Fraudulent activity
- Denial of service attack or malware disruption
With media attention on data breaches impacting millions it is easy to think that a small business is not at risk, but it is the ease of access to a business’s systems, not its size that attracts these hackers.
Dark Web information is up to twenty times more likely to come from an unreported breach. A Federal Trade Commission Conference was told by privacy specialists that victims included medical practices, retailers, restaurant chains, schools and other small businesses.
Reduce your risk
Rather than let your information end up on the Dark Web where you can do little about it, be proactive and keep your security protections current and install security patches regularly.
Consider a UTM (unified threat management) device or UTM appliance. The UTM plugs into your network to serve as a gateway and protect your business from malware, illicit access and other security risks.
Your UTM security appliance can provide:
- application control
- data loss prevention
- email security
- anti-malware scanning
- wireless and remote access management
- URL and content filtering
To stay on top of the latest cyber security threats call us on 01543 889 444.