It’s not enough to protect your business from cyberthreats like malware, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and phishing. For many organisations, the dark web is also becoming a concern.
What is the dark web?
The dark web is a hidden part of the World Wide Web, accessible only through special web browsers like Tor, which enables users and website owners to stay anonymous. It is typically used by cybercriminals to buy and sell illegal and dangerous items such as drugs, weapons, and child pornography.
It’s not just for illegal activities, however. Journalists, protesters, and whistleblowers can also use it to stay unidentified online, or access popular websites such as Facebook and Twitter that are geo-restricted in some countries.
What are the dangers of the dark web to businesses?
The dark web has recently become a marketplace for leaked and stolen company data. If an organisation suffered a data breach, for instance, their sensitive information will most likely end up on the dark web.
The price of stolen data follows the laws of economics. If the supply is low, prices go up. And if there’s a large supply of stolen data, prices significantly drop. A hacked Gmail account goes for as much as $155.73, while US, Canadian, or European passports are priced at $1,500 each.
Unfortunately, many businesses are often too late to take action on data breach attacks. Not only do they end up suffering reputational damages, operation disruptions, and legal ramifications, but they also have to bear the costs of these, which may be large enough to shut the business down for good.
What can you do about the dark web?
Your small business is just as vulnerable as large enterprises when it comes to cyberattacks, so it’s important to proactively protect your data. Here are some measures your organisation can take:
1. Require the use of strong passwords
Implement a strong password policy to mitigate the risk of account theft. This doesn’t mean coming up with passwords containing random characters, numbers, and symbols, as these can be difficult to remember.
Instead, use passphrases. These are sentences or a combination of words, such as “Reveres32Shatters18Viscous” or “iranfasterthanthewind2579twodaysago”. Passphrases are easier to remember and exponentially harder to hack than random letters and numbers.
2. Implement multifactor authentication (MFA)
Aside from strong passwords, MFA can also help users secure your corporate accounts by using more than one method of identity verification. After your employees enter their password, they may be prompted to verify the sign-in attempt on their smartphone, scan their face or fingerprint, or enter a one-time SMS code.
So even if a hacker acquires a user’s login credentials, they won’t be able to access the account without fulfilling the succeeding security requirements.
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3. Conduct regular awareness training
Your IT infrastructure may be equipped with the latest security software, but remember that no system is perfect. It takes only one employee mistake to compromise your organisation’s data, so everyone has to do their part to keep your company safe from cyberattacks.
Your staff has to be aware of what they can encounter on the web, how data is accessed and stored, and how to mitigate the risk of data breaches. For example, cybercriminals use phishing schemes to steal personal and financial information from users and sell it on the dark web. Conduct live phishing simulations by sending out a fake email to everyone in the company, and provide necessary training to those who fell for the bait.
Provide clear guidance on safe internet usage as well. This includes blocking websites employees aren’t allowed to visit and programs they shouldn’t install. Enforce sanctions for any broken rules.
4. Use dark web monitoring services
Dark web monitoring involves web crawlers and scrapers that monitor peer-to-peer networks, websites, and chat rooms where stolen information is sold. Once a match is found, the data’s owner is immediately notified, reducing the amount of time between the occurrence of a data breach and its discovery.
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