The Dark Web and Its Impact on Your Business
Business owners today know the internet is not only a force for good. Some people exploit the Web for ill intent. They congregate on the Dark Web, and small businesses need to understand the risks.
What is the Dark Web?
You and your employees spend time daily on the Web. They’re researching clients, checking out competitors, and searching for information. They are not accessing the Dark Web. The Dark Web houses dangerous, often illegal activity. This includes black-market drug sales, illegal firearm sales, and illicit pornography.
The Dark Web’s collection of websites is inaccessible using standard search engines or browsers. Users employ a Tor or I2P encryption tool to hide their identity and activity, and they spoof IP addresses.
To go into the Dark Web, you also need to be using the Tor or I2P service. Plus, you’d need to know where to find the site you are looking for. There are Dark Web directories, but they are unreliable. The people on the Dark Web don’t want their victims to find them. Ultimately, it’s not somewhere you or your employees need to be.
So, why do you need to know about it? Because Dark Web users can buy:
- usernames and passwords
- counterfeit money
- stolen credit card numbers or subscription credentials
- software to break into people’s computers
- operational, financial, or customer data
- intellectual property or trade secrets
The Dark Web is also where someone can hire a hacker to attack your computers.
The Dark Web business risk
The Dark Web itself isn’t illegal, and not all its traffic is criminal. It is also visited by journalists and law enforcement agencies, and it’s used in countries prohibiting open communication.
Yet the number of Dark Web listings that could harm your business is growing. A 2019 research study found that 60% of all listings could harm enterprises, and the number of those Dark Web listings has risen by 20% since 2016.
Business risks from these Dark Web listings include:
- undermining brand reputation
- loss of competitive advantage
- denial-of-service attack or malware disruption
- IP theft
- fraudulent activity
With media attention on data breaches impacting millions, it’s easy to think a small business is not at risk. However, bad actors don’t target a business for its size – they look for ease of access.
Dark Web information is up to twenty times more likely to come from an unreported breach. Privacy specialists told a Federal Trade Commission Conference victims included medical practices, retailers, school districts, restaurant chains, and other small businesses.
Reduce your risk
If your information ends up on the Dark Web, there’s little you can do about it. The bright side, at least, is that you would know that your business security has been compromised. Be proactive instead. Keep your security protections current, and install security patches regularly.
Consider a unified threat management (UTM) 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
- anti-malware scanning
- URL and content filtering
- data loss prevention
- email security
- wireless and remote access management
Or let a managed services provider (MSP) take care of all aspects of protecting your business. Pay a consistent monthly fee for an MSP to handle all your technology, patching, monitoring, and assessment needs.
Stay on top of the latest cybersecurity threats with an MSP, or learn more about installing a UTM.