Hackers and scammers use the anonymity the dark web gives them to launch attacks on a wide range of targets, including consumers and businesses.
MakeUseOf spoke to Echosec Systems James Villeneuve about dark web threats, intelligence gathering, and security planning.
How Do Dark Web Threats Affect Corporate Security Planning?
The dark web is an ever-present backdrop for security planning. Just as cybersecurity firms do not underestimate the power of the dark web—that is, the users, forums, and organizations lurking there—corporate security planning is increasingly weighing those threats into their security planning.
James Villeneuve says:
Corporate security teams can no longer turn a blind eye to the growing threat landscape across the deep web and the dark web. With large corporations likely to experience, on average, one crisis per year, security planning has to identify where these crises are originating from online and begin developing a more proactive approach to monitoring.
Can Security Teams Actively Search the Dark Web for Threats?
One of the biggest draws of the dark web is privacy and anonymity. First, you can only access the dark web using specialized software, such as the Tor Browser. This software comes equipped with the special routing and privacy add-ons required to access the Tor network.
The structure of the dark web is meant to keep the sites, services, and users anonymous. When you use Tor to access the darknet, your internet traffic moves through several anonymous nodes from your computer to the site you want to visit.
Furthermore, the dark web isn’t indexed in the same way as the regular internet. Websites on the Tor network don’t use the DNS system that the normal internet uses.
There are crucial steps you need to take if you want to know how to access the dark web safely and anonymously.
Scanning the dark web for threats, then, requires special tools. For example, Echosec Beacon is a specialized threat intelligence tool that scans darknet marketplaces for stolen credentials, leaked data, and illicit goods detect data breaches, and can provide early warning and insight into conversations relating to specific organizations on the dark web forums.
Monitoring the communities that are discussing, planning, and propagating these threats, organizations are beginning to value and prioritize more proactive security strategies. With the average cost of a data breach now equalling over $3.86 million (IBM, 2019), the ability to prevent such breaches can save an organization millions in damages.
Does the Dark Web Provide a False Sense of Security?
As the dark web carries a strong reputation for privacy, it is no surprise that attackers and criminal organizations gather there to plan and launch attacks. The idea of a hidden service operating on a highly secure anonymous network provides users with a strong sense of privacy and security.
However, this feeling can lead users to make mistakes in their personal security. Furthermore, that sense of privacy and security provides the platform for people to discuss and plan “a great deal of nefarious activity… illegal goods sales, money laundering, and human exploitation” all happen on the dark web.
When users feel more comfortable in their surroundings, discussing plans for a cyber attack or details of their employer, they might give away more information than they realize.
In terms of “regular” dark web users, who are perhaps simply visiting the dark web version of Facebook or the BBC News website, these privacy issues aren’t of a similar concern. The examples provided involve users interacting with and posting on dark web forums.
Posting to these forums can create traceability, especially if the users’ operational security is poor (such as using the same username on multiple sites, revealing personal information, etc.).