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Assassins for hire, drugs by mail order, and fake passports: What do all these things have in common?
You can find them all on the dark web.
“Okay …” you may be thinking, “Sounds like a blast — but how does this affect me and my business?”
Well, most likely, you’re not surfing the dark web for fake travel documents and drugs by mail. But as it turns out, the dark web can affect you and your business. Most notably, your information can end up there — and that’s exactly where you don’t to find it.
Below, we’ll learn more about what the dark web is, how it came into existence, and how you can protect your business from the trouble that lurks there.
First Thing’s First: What Is the Dark Web?
The dark web began much more innocently than one might assume. In fact, at its very beginning in the late 1990s, it was the brainchild of a government entity, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
The NRL’s main goal was to cloak their online presence, effectively protecting their clandestine communications online while also anonymously monitoring the world market and getting access to hidden data without a trace. The software development stage went by the name The Onion Routing Project and resulted in the creation of Tor (The Onion Router).
Whether you’d call these beginnings “innocent” or not, to be sure, the NRL never anticipated their creation to morph into the toxic netherworld it is today. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the software was for government use only, but in 2004, it was open-sourced and went public, effectively creating an anonymous web browser for anyone and everyone to use.
What Is Tor?
Tor or The Onion Router is the software program used by the dark web. Normally, when you surf the web, you can be traced wherever you go because you always have an IP address trailing your clicks and searches.
Tor facilitates an Internet browser that messes with your device’s IP address, effectively enabling you to travel around the Internet anonymously. It does this by bouncing your IP address to a multitude of diverse locations. As a result, if someone were to attempt to track your site visits when you were using Tor, it would be an impossible challenge to pinpoint your exact location. For Tor to work, individuals from around the world “donate” their Internet browsing devices (computers, tablets, etc.) so that the bouncing IP addresses have more places to land.
So, the Dark Web Provides Anonymity and Privacy – How Does That Put My Business at Risk?
While Tor and the dark web can be used for good (namely, identity protection, which is often beneficial to whistleblowers or journalists, for example), it can also protect criminals. And it does protect criminals — lots of them.
Cybercrime is the number one thing going on on the dark web, and unless you have good reason to require the benefits of The Onion Router, the dark web is definitely not a place you want to find your information. This is what we mean by being wary of your business getting mixed up with the dark web.
There are numerous threats that the dark web poses to businesses of various sizes, industries, and backgrounds. This is where cybercriminals can learn how to obtain information such as access codes and passwords, credit card information, gift card information, customer data, and more. It’s also where they can sell such information to third parties who can then do with it what they please.
In other words, you should want to know the moment your company name, address, or other company-related information is noticed on the dark web because what happens next is bound to be bad.
How Can Businesses Protect Themselves From the Dark Web?
Essentially, you can protect your business from the dark web by doing two things: Ensuring a strong setup of cyber privacy practices (hiring a cybersecurity-savvy IT company) and monitoring the dark web so that you’re notified the moment your information is found there.
The latter can be a part of the services you outsource to your IT company because actual dark web monitoring involves getting dark web access and knowing how to accumulate, parse, normalize, validate, refine, and enrich what you acquire. If you don’t know how to do that yourself, professionals can come to your aid.
While the dark web may be a place that helps good journalists and few others stay hidden and anonymous, it’s predominantly a place of crime and misdeeds. Keep your business safe from the dark web by knowing the risks and taking the appropriate precautions.