If you have been online for a while, especially in cybersecurity circles, chances are you've heard of the "dark web." This term is being used with more frequency to describe a secret digital world of criminal activity for everything malicious or shady that occurs online. And, while you might not think it's real, it is. So, precisely what is this dark web, and how can you protect yourself from it?
What is the "Dark Web"?
The dark web is the section of the internet that search engines are not indexing. To access the dark web, you need to use a special anonymizing browser called “Tor.” Dark web sites end in .onion, rather than domain names like .com, .co, .org., .edu, or. gov. To avoid being caught, merchants and scammers are constantly moving site locations, and sites on the dark web are always changing to avoid malicious distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS).
And, no doubt, you have heard it is a breeding ground for criminal activity, and this is true. An “Into the Web of Profit” study in 2019, conducted by the University of Surrey’s Dr. Michael McGuire, found that the adverse implications of the dark web are worsening. The number of listings on the dark web that could threaten companies has increased by 20% since the year 2016. Sixty-percent of all listings (except those that sell drugs) could potentially threaten companies.
A big concern for the average individual and businesses is the dark web also provides a means for purchasing and selling things like stolen:
- Banking information
- Credit cards
- Account credentials
On the dark web, you can purchase:
- Credit card numbers
- Counterfeit money
- Hacked Netflix credentials
- Stolen subscription data
- Legal documents
- Medical records
- Software for breaking into people's computers
- Usernames and passwords
- And more.
Protecting Yourself From Dark Web Fraud
So how do you protect yourself from the dark web? Here are some tips to ensure better security:
- Gain knowledge. You can have your domain checked for free to see if any of your company's credentials are for sale on the dark web.
- Protect your passwords. Many individuals use the same password or some form of the same password for multiple online sites and services. By doing this, you make it too simple for hackers to gain access to your different accounts. You should use different passwords for each account and do not use common easy-to-hack passwords like your birthdate or name of your dog.
- Use Two-factor authentication or multi-layered security options for your accounts. For instance, you can set it up where a verification text will be sent to you each time you log into an account like Twitter.
- Update your software. Be sure you update all software, so you are protected from the latest threats. For instance, antivirus services are always identifying new threats and thereby updating their services. Application providers will close security loopholes as they identify them as well.
- Call in the professionals if you are breached. If you are a victim of cybercrime, you need an expert to handle the situation. Professionals will know what to do for security breaches. They can help you fix your situation and better protect yourself in the future.
Unfortunately, data breaches happen all the time, and individuals and companies frequently find out their sensitive data was compromised when they find it on a marketplace of the dark web. Deep web scanning is essential for proactively scanning to see if your credentials or other sensitive data has been stolen and marketed on the dark internet. When you become aware that your confidential information is compromised, it provides you with the chance to take action to stop or prevent attacks.