The term dark web has been associated with illegal context for good reasons. For a common internet user, the dark web is the digital space where drugs, weapons and other banned items are sold. The dark web is notorious for hundreds of criminal activities and deals. This is the public image of the dark web.
But the belief is different for cyber security experts. There are many benefits for cyber security experts using the dark web. They can use the data and insights available on the dark web to learn more about trending techniques and tricks being used by hackers.
The dark web has been synonymous with the darknet markets. But there’s a possibility not everyone knows about it. The term darknet market is commonly used for billion-dollar business activities, and illicit and illegal activities. These activities and products can be available anywhere and, in many forms, with different names in various countries.
A unique feature of the dark web is the use of encryption technologies to hide the details of your business clients’ identities, which are being used by criminals in buying and selling drugs, and other illegal items.
Through the right use of this technique and others, cyber security experts can open new doors of opportunities and possibilities to improve the security posture of your organization.
Dark Web Surfing
The dark web is an internet space. It’s been associated with illegal activities.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there are few exceptions for dark web surfing.
- The first exception relates to government employees. They can’t use the dark web in the office or elsewhere without permission.
- The second exception relates to work-related law enforcement activities. Law enforcement agencies have the authority to enter any part of the world without saying anything about their whereabouts, within their authoritative boundaries. This is so they can access these areas where the dark web has easily appeared.
- Cyber security experts in law enforcement can use the same dark web to store information and records until a court order is passed. They can’t access an individual’s data without a court order. So, they have the authority to access the internet domains of these websites, where illegal activities have been carried out.
The most controversial aspect of this is that law enforcement agencies don’t need a court order to access any data stored on the dark web. No one really knows whether these agencies have been abusing their power in this manner.
Potential Scope and Benefits of Dark Web for Cyber Security Experts
There are plenty of organizations fighting against cyber criminals through the dark web. The dark web provides them with an opportunity to fight against hackers and cyber spies.
The primary reason for this is the presence of encrypted communication. This involves technology-based communication between two or more people. This is what makes it different from other communication methods, which don’t use encryption technologies to ensure privacy and data communication security.
Why Must Organizations Care About the Dark Web?
It’s now become one of the hottest topics in cyber security. That’s because it’s emerged as one of the major security threats in recent years.
Cyber security experts are always tracking the activities in this digital space to get an idea about the next big cyber-attack. These cyber-attacks can take place in any country. So, it’s essential to know about them, because there are millions of people who are at risk worldwide.
What’s interesting is the dark web has become one of the busiest places for hackers to do their illegal activities, aside from other favorite places like the deep web, TOR network and i2p network. The reason for its popularity is its ability to hide a user’s identity. This can be achieved using robust encryption technologies.
The use of encryption technologies to hide sophisticated computer viruses targeted at hackers and cyber criminals is often considered a basic need for many organizations. This way, any data sent over the internet is completely secured from malicious hackers. This also makes it difficult for cyber criminals to track any business customer activities and read confidential information. Therefore, hackers can’t easily identify customers or access their banking accounts.
All these characteristics make it a perfect place for hackers. So, they’ve been using the dark web as a base from where to launch attacks worldwide.
Here’s a TORFlow from Uncharted Software, showing data flow throughout the TOR network.
Why Do Cyber Security Experts Focus on Dark Web?
While browsing the regular web, users can access all kinds of content and information from any website. But when it comes to the dark web surfing, you can easily access illegal content from sites selling illegal drugs, weapons, malware and other banned items.
These sites are spread worldwide. And everyone tries to stay away from them because they’re using encryption technologies to hide identities.
Cyber security experts are tracking various criminal activities happening on these sites. And these may take place at the same time in many countries worldwide. The primary reason for this is the sophisticated use of encryption technologies, which provide a shield to protect sensitive data communication.
There’s a lot of content on the dark web not available on the regular web. For instance, there are plenty of sites in many countries where people can buy and sell weapons and drugs in exchange for cryptocurrencies. There are also sites in various countries that sell fake passports, IDs and other false documents, which can help with identity protection.
8 Ways Cyber Security Experts Benefit from Dark Web
To tackle business threats by hackers, it’s important to know how hackers and exploiters operate. There’s no better place than the dark web to interact with hackers. The dark web is not only meant for cyber criminals, but also cyber security experts can use this to improve business security.
Hackers who want to exploit your organization always use the darknet to publish stolen data so active cyber security experts can easily track business information available for sale by hackers. A proactive approach is using the darknet to save your organization from major security setbacks. It’s best to use the darknet to improve your security posture.
Here are 8 ways cyber security experts benefit from dark web and improve business security.
1. Gather Threat Intelligence
Dark web surfing is never silent. There’s always chatter about possible threats and major cyber security threats by hacking groups. Associating with the right group can help you gain information that can be useful for your organization.
As a security analyst, you can be ready to tackle possible security attacks with information gathered from the darknet. You can get information about the potential attack vector and the mitigation tactics of such attacks. You will also learn some new techniques about how to handle security threats by talking to hackers and getting any relevant information about their operations.
2. Hear Information from Hackers
Hacking group members will share vital information related to their operations and hacking tools they use. You can collect this intelligence and thoroughly analyze it so you can prevent similar attacks.
Cyber security experts also need to understand how these hackers work so no risks can be created in your business systems. Knowing the details about the hackers’ operations will be useful for you to take the necessary steps to improve your business security.
3. Protect Information from Hackers
There are various means by which legitimate organizations can protect themselves from hackers. These hackers may also try to obtain sensitive information from an organization by hacking its systems.
You cannot prevent such attacks. But you can protect your valuable information from being accessed by cybercrime.
There are certain measures you can adopt to protect sensitive information from being stolen—and letting this information be used for illegal purposes—through a comprehensive end-to-end security roadmap, which includes monitoring, detection and managing threats.
The dark web can help you implement cyber security shields for your organization’s data. This will help minimize security threats imposed by hackers.
4. Protect Users’ Privacy
Whenever you’re using the internet, you’re making yourself an easy target for hackers. You’re not only vulnerable to cybercrime, but also sharing your confidential information with various government agencies, keeping track of user activities across the internet.
It’s important to understand how these agencies can track user activities. You can do this by collecting certain information about their online behavior.
You need to protect yourself from ISPs and other local network members, so your classified data is still safe. Strong privacy protection can help you secure sensitive business information. And this will be useful for improving your business security and minimizing security threats.
5. Protect Business Data
Another way to protect your organization’s data through the dark web is checking on your employees unintentionally sharing your business data on the internet.
By actively surfing the darknet, security experts can mitigate the chances of a data breach by removing the business information.
6. Protect Intellectual Property
Hackers try to obtain information about the intellectual properties of organizations. This may include any patent, signed agreement, research details and clinical data.
It’s difficult for a hacking group to get such highly valuable information. But the group can get certain details by using its own techniques.
There are also other ways cyber criminals can easily get these business secrets. Innovative ideas of organizations must always be under lock and key, so it doesn’t get stolen by dark hackers.
7. Prevent Data Being Exposed on the Internet
You must always protect your organization’s data from the public view. Otherwise, it can lead to several types of attacks against your business systems.
You can prevent this type of attack by removing or masking your data before it’s published on the internet. This will minimize the chances of your data being stolen by hackers.
8. Protect Login Credentials
You will also learn how to handle the login credentials of users through the darknet. Frequently, users do not protect their usernames and passwords, making them easy targets for cyber criminals. Hackers also often use phishing emails to steal sensitive information about users’ login details.
It’s important to educate users about such attacks. Teach them how they can minimize the chances of their login credentials being stolen by hackers.
How Organizations Improve Security by Moving to Dark Web
Some organizations are building sites on the dark web to improve their security posture. Doing so, though, can make it more difficult for mainstream users to visit sites like Amazon and Facebook. These examples of organizations with dark web sites are used to protect their users from cyber criminals, marketing companies and governments tracking user information.
It also allows users to access platforms in other countries, such as China, Cuba and North Korea, that block networks.
Some organizations in the private sector are even using their own dark web site to remove themselves from the crosshairs of potential hackers and competitors. A lot of organizations are moving to the dark web after migrating to the cloud but found themselves in the crosshairs of bad actors. So, they decided more security or more privacy for their organization, clients or customers was needed.
Moving to the dark web can also be a great tool for marketing. Marketers can use the dark web to gain insights into potential needs and wants of current or future clients by reading vast amounts of completed online forms.
As more companies move to the dark web, traditional marketing strategies will be affected. That’s because marketers will be unable to get accurate information to target customers. And analytics will then be less accurate due to more consumers using TOR browsers and other hidden networks.
At the same time, marketers must use caution when accessing the dark web. It’s filled with tons of sensitive, criminal and additive information, which can cause harm to both an organization and employee brand images.
Using the darknet is a practical way to improve your organization’s security posture. But only if you take preventive security measures, including darknet monitoring, conducting regular penetration testing to find any vulnerabilities in your network and implementing regular security awareness training for all employees to educate your workforce about how to spot and report cyber threats.
These hacks can cause major setbacks to your organization. And it’s important to take such preventive measures to minimize the number of cyber-attacks. You can also protect your organization’s data from hackers by using strong security measures.
The best thing about using the darknet is learning how your critical business information can be protected from hackers and cyber criminals.
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About the Author: Craig Wilson
As an Enterprise Security Architect at System Soft Technologies, Craig is a CISSP-certified tech guru with multiple IT security certifications. Craig’s roles as Director of IT Infrastructure and Security, Cybersecurity Solutions Architect and Enterprise Solutions Architect, along with his expertise on enterprise organization security and governance, authenticates him as a trusted and valuable advisor on security best practices.