It might sound strange, but in an ideal world we’d all be using the dark web. In essence, the dark web is simply a part of the internet that isn’t indexed by search engines. It requires special software that provides a greater level of privacy than what is traditionally offered online, such as anonymous browsing, multi-layered encryption, and the blocking of online trackers.  

But of course, it’s these very privacy settings that have turned the dark web into a space to buy and sell information that undermines the privacy of individuals and businesses. The dark web gained infamy for being a place to find illegal drugs and guns, but more recently it’s increasingly focused on the trading of malware and stolen information. In fact, compared to 2016, there has been a 20% rise in the number of dark net listings that have a potential to cause harm business, with 60% of all listings posing a direct harm to businesses.  

What’s on the dark web 

So, what is exactly on the dark web? Early this year, Bromium released a report that analyzed listings on some of the most popular dark web marketplaces to better understand the threats to businesses that are being bought and sold. Here is a short summary of their findings: 

Network Compromise 

On the dark web, you can actually pay someone to perform hacks and other types of cyberattacks on an organization. For an average of $4,5000 anyone can purchase targeted attacks on an organization, such as denial-of-service attacks (DoS) and remote access trojans (RAT) — a form of malware that gives the hacker administrative control over a network.  

Vendors also sell stolen credentials used to remotely access business networks. These typically sell for only $3-$30.  

Financial Compromise  

The one of the main forms of financial compromise services sold on the dark web are phishing attacks. For just $40 someone can buy a full-service phishing kit that performs email scams and mirrors legitimate web pages to trick employees into providing financial information to the attacker. But if you don’t want to spring for the whole kit, vendors also sell individual fake websites for less than $1.  

Data Compromise  

Perhaps the most popular service offered on the dark web is access to stolen data. This predominately includes access to stole credit card and bank account information. According to the 2018 Financial Services Threat Landscape Report there was a 135% year-over-year increase in financial data sold on the dark web.  

But it’s not just credit cards that are being sold. The Bromium report shows that there is a rising amount of sensitive operational data being traded. According to the report, 15% of all data sold on the dark web involves business information such as company emails, financial information, content related to corporate policy or strategy, project costs, and even minutes for corporate meetings.  

 What You Can Do

With the growing number of threats up for sale online, it’s important for businesses to take steps to prevent these threats from inflicting damage. As a part of your cybersecurity policy, it’s not a bad idea to include periodic monitoring of dark web marketplaces for malware, targeted attacks, and company or customer data.  

Even though the dark web is hidden from traditional browsers, it’s still public information. Taking time to research what is being sold there can greatly help identity and prevent new threats from effecting your organization.  

Also published on Medium.

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