The Dark Web: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

The internet is a space that is made up of good and bad. The internet is paradoxically composed of three layers, particularly the deep web, the surface web, and the dark web.

The top part is the surface web where web pages that show up using search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Meanwhile, the deep network is comprised of web pages that are hidden from search engines and can only be accessed through authorizations and passwords.

The third layer is the dark web, which is a decentralized network of web pages that try to make users anonymous by distributing and encrypting communications through a plethora of servers. In general, dark web users leverage tools like the Tor browser, which obfuscates the source of data and their identity.

More often than not, the dark web conjures up images of deranged horselaugh, intricate pictures of dark eyes, or even hooded capes where a cesspool of illegal activities occur. Although that may be partially true, a DarkOwl cybersecurity report indicates that every Fortune 500 company has some exposure on the dark web with telecommunications and technology firms ranking at the top of the list.

This is because the dark web promotes privacy and helps these organizations prevent government agencies, internet providers, or even hackers from monitoring essential online activities. On the flip side, the anonymity aspect of the dark web also makes it an ideal location for anyone to perform an illegal and unethical action.

As the World Wide Web ripened, so did the complexities over a plethora of information management systems. Recent statistics indicate that roughly 1,579 data breaches were reported in the U.S. in 2017, which represents more than a 500 percent increase from 2005. These are just the reported data breaches and does not include all data breaches that occurred in 2017.

While the origins of the dark web are not necessarily illegal or malicious, several research studies have revealed that 57 percent of websites on the dark web has hosted an illicit material. One of the most notorious marketplaces in the dark web is the now-defunct Silk Road, which generated approximately $1.2 billion in sales of a variety of things, particularly drugs.

On the business side of things, the dark web creates a cause for concern for the following reasons:

  • Sensitive company information is for sale: The more significant concern for a business is that the dark web also serves as a hotspot for buying and selling stolen account credentials, banking information, and credit card data. The moment a business experiences a data breach, there is an outside chance that the compromised information will end up in a marketplace on the dark web
  • Not everyone knows it exists: Perhaps the most significant problem with the dark web is the fact that most organizations usually do not know that there is a black market for the buying and selling of information. A Switchcast report revealed that 26 percent of small business workers do not have any idea of the dark web, let alone the role it portrays in cyberattacks.

 

Conclusion

Not every business is prepared to deal with the risk of the dark web. As businesses establish strong cybersecurity measures, they also need to keep an eye on the dark web to minimize the threat of becoming the next victim of an attack. 

Want to see if your company may be compromised on the Dark Web? Reach out to one of our MicroAge locations for a preliminary assessment.


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