What is the Dark Web, how does it work, and should I be worried about it?
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What is the Dark Web?
The internet has revolutionised all parts of our lives and businesses. But such a useful and important tool has, of course, also been harnessed for criminal or darker activity.
The Dark Web is an additional, unmonitored layer to the internet where scammers, hackers and criminals can buy and sell personal details, illegal activities and products or simply trade information that they shouldn’t!
And yes, most of it is pretty unsavoury.
How do you access the Dark Web?
This additional layer is part of the Deep Web, an area of the internet that cannot be found using traditional search engines and that is usually encrypted or password-protected. Not all of the Deep Web is dark - your bank details for example are stored in the Deep Web - but all of the Dark Web is deep!
The Dark Web is accessible via readily-available browsers, the most popular being the Onion Router (or Tor) because of its layers of encryption. Tor now hosts over 30,000 sites.
How did the Dark Web start?
Strangely the original Tor technology that has allowed the Dark Web to flourish was created by the US Military so that spies could trade information anonymously.
The function of being able to hide yourself behind various secret levels means you can hide your intent and identity, making it ideal for intelligence work and useful if you are behind a firewall that doesn’t allow you to communicate freely.
But it’s also ideal for criminal activity.
Why should I be concerned about the Dark Web?
You may believe that the Dark Web has nothing to do with you. But you’d be wrong.
You can guarantee that you or the company you work for or own has had some exposure to the Dark Web. Passwords, credit card information, National Insurance numbers, home addresses, staff details and other sensitive data will be held there and all up for sale. The kind of information you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands and that if sold could do untold damage to businesses - including data breaches, fraud and cyber crime.
According the Federation of Small Businesses, small businesses in the UK are collectively subject to almost 10,000 cyber-attacks a day! The annual cost of such attacks to the small business community is estimated to be £4.5 billion, with the average cost of an individual attack put at £1,300.*
What can I do about my company’s exposure on the Dark Web?
Don’t let the dark side of the internet threaten your business. A simple search of your exposure will reveal what Dark Web data is available so that you can address the threat and make changes to render the information useless.
From then on, we will monitor your domain continuously and alert you when a breach has been made. This ensures passwords and payment details can be changed before they are sold or used maliciously… stopping scammers in their tracks!
Laurence Glen, Head of IT at Focus Group, says:
"There’s no doubt that Dark Web protection and monitoring has to be taken into consideration by any company addressing their online threat. Just because you don’t use the Dark Web yourself you can’t assume that you haven’t been exposed to it. But don’t be scared, it’s easy for us to reach down and pull out the dangerous data held there so that your company can’t be exploited by scammers, hackers or dangerous malware. Here are Focus Group we have an expert team of cyber security experts who can do this all for you, ensuring your information is safe and secure from cyber crime."
* Source: Federation of Small Businesses, 2019