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What Is the Dark Web?

The dark web is a hotbed of illegal activity and a place where cybercriminals look to cash in on their stashes of stolen credentials and account numbers.

It’s an unregulated part of the Internet not indexed by any search engine and is the most difficult to reach online. Accessibility is only uncovered through special browsers.

What lurks within the dark web is a treasure trove of sensitive personal and corporate information that thieves are ready to pounce on and exploit.

The dark web is the deepest of three layers of the world wide web. The most simple way to visualize the three levels is to think of them like an apple.

The skin of the apple represents the surface web, the public portion of the web that most users spend their time using. Housed on the surface web are public websites, social media, news sources and online shopping sites.

This portion of the web, like the thin outer skin of an apple, makes up less than 5 percent of the total presence.

The fleshy edible part of the apple symbolizes the deep web. The name may sound foreboding, but the deep web is simply private, not shady. It houses internal company websites and databases, paid-wall sites and other non-public information.

The deep web is the largest portion of the web by far, making up more than 90 percent of the total presence.

The core of the apple represents the hidden world of the dark web, which is made up of thousands of nefarious websites and black marketplaces for all sorts of goods and services. Items for sale include log-ins and passwords for thousands of websites, credit card numbers, debit card numbers, hacking software and banking account details.

The dark web is technically legal but is home to plenty of illegal activities. For a corporation, any data found in the dark web could be used to cripple operations and exploit or steal funds.

It’s critical to understand how to protect ourselves.

How Does Private Information Get to the Dark Web?

Cyberattacks are the modus operandi for criminals to gain sensitive information to supply to the dark web. Since the onset of the global pandemic, attacks and hacks are reaching record levels.

The statistics for cyber-invasions so far in 2020 are shocking. Some of the most significant:

  • 80% of companies have seen an increase in cyberattacks
  • Attacks aimed at banks are up 238%
  • Cloud-based attacks have grown 630% between January and April 2020
  • Phishing attempts have increased a staggering 600% since the end of February
  • Ransomware attacks were up 148% in March alone
  • Attacks targeting remote workers increased five-fold in the first six weeks of lockdown

When Does Dark Web Data Become Profitable?

Cybercrime is thriving because it’s lucrative. Pieces of stolen information add up to major paydays for the players involved.

According to Statistica, stolen banking credentials provide the highest price of any data at an average of $259 for each account, with debit card account details closely behind at $250. PayPal, Credit Cards and Western Union account details round out the top five most expensive commodities.

Earlier this year, fintech News announced that the average malware attack now earns hackers more than $100,000.

These costs don’t take into consideration the loss of employee productivity, damage to company reputation, data that is permanently lost and a resulting plunge in employee morale and employer trust.

Which Investments Protect Corporate Data Best?

One of the ongoing effects of COVID-19 will likely be reduced budgets for all departments in corporations. With workforce reductions occurring and companies bringing in less revenue, there will be fewer dollars for department leads fighting for as next year’s budgets are finalized.

However, more than 70 percent of IT workers expect to ask for budget increases for 2021, even though many expect their budgets to shrink. These dollars will be used to secure IT environments from increasingly sophisticated assailants.

Even in an economic downtown, CIOs and CISOs must persist in maintaining business continuity and protecting against new cyber threats. IT staffers have been monitoring spiking threat levels, including a near-sevenfold increase in spear-phishing attacks since the pandemic began.

Workers, many freshly minted to virtual offices, are experiencing delayed updates to email and web filters as part of transitioning from traditional office spaces. Opportunities for wrongdoers evolve as a result.

Find Out if Your Sensitive Data Has Been Compromised

Security is an ever-changing process rather than a one-time task, and employees must work together to get their security practices into shape.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, remote work will likely stay a vital part of businesses, along with an increased client-facing web presence. The associated security challenges will rise and become more complex, as the drive online continues.

The human element at work remains the biggest hurdle to securing our IT environments. Human behaviours can be adjusted with constant reminders and self-regulating processes like automatic password changes.

With so many exposed credentials available for sale on the dark web, we must rekindle our focus on cybersecurity and investigate what information of ours — personal and corporate — may be published to the dark web.

dark web scan will allow you to understand what information has been compromised. Asking a specialist for advice will help you identify what gaps in your company’s security program and processes may have permitted cybercriminals to be successful.

OnServe is an IT Support and Computer Services company based in Kingston and Brockville Ontario, providing support services across Ontario. Cities served include: Ottawa, Cornwall, Napanee, Belleville, Toronto, Oshawa, Mississauga, Oakville, Hamilton and the Niagara Region. The experts at OnServe understand the technologies required to run highly-effective organizations. Technology is a critical ingredient in every company’s recipe for success. Take the stress and uncertainty out of your business technology and gain insight into concerns you should have about info posted on the dark web. Contact our team at 613-634-8125.