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Thursday, 14 January 2021 05:33

How Does the Dark Web Affect Your Security?

Author:   [Source: This article was published in makeuseof.com By Gavin Phillips]

The dark web is full of dangerous stuff, but how does it affect your security directly?

The dark web is a mysterious place with a crazy reputation. Contrary to belief, finding the dark web isn't difficult. However, learning how to navigate it safely can be, especially if you don't know what you're doing or what to expect.

Hackers and scammers use the anonymity the dark web gives them to launch attacks on a wide range of targets, including consumers and businesses.

MakeUseOf spoke to Echosec Systems James Villeneuve about dark web threats, intelligence gathering, and security planning.

How Do Dark Web Threats Affect Corporate Security Planning?

The dark web is an ever-present backdrop for security planning. Just as cybersecurity firms do not underestimate the power of the dark web—that is, the users, forums, and organizations lurking there—corporate security planning is increasingly weighing those threats into their security planning.

James Villeneuve says:

Corporate security teams can no longer turn a blind eye to the growing threat landscape across the deep web and the dark web. With large corporations likely to experience, on average, one crisis per year, security planning has to identify where these crises are originating from online and begin developing a more proactive approach to monitoring.

Can Security Teams Actively Search the Dark Web for Threats?

One of the biggest draws of the dark web is privacy and anonymity. First, you can only access the dark web using specialized software, such as the Tor Browser. This software comes equipped with the special routing and privacy add-ons required to access the Tor network.

The structure of the dark web is meant to keep the sites, services, and users anonymous. When you use Tor to access the darknet, your internet traffic moves through several anonymous nodes from your computer to the site you want to visit.

Furthermore, the dark web isn't indexed in the same way as the regular internet. Websites on the Tor network don't use the DNS system that the normal internet uses.

Scanning the dark web for threats, then, requires special tools. For example, Echosec Beacon is a specialized threat intelligence tool that scans darknet marketplaces for stolen credentials, leaked data, and illicit goods, detects data breaches, and can provide early warning and insight into conversations relating to specific organizations on dark web forums.

Villeneuve explains:

Monitoring the communities that are discussing, planning, and propagating these threats, organizations are beginning to value and prioritize more proactive security strategies. With the average cost of a data breach now equalling over $3.86 million (IBM, 2019), the ability to prevent such breaches can save an organization millions in damages.

Does the Dark Web Provide a False Sense of Security?

As the dark web carries a strong reputation for privacy, it is no surprise that attackers and criminal organizations gather there to plan and launch attacks. The idea of a hidden service operating on a highly secure anonymous network provides users with a strong sense of privacy and security.

However, this feeling can lead users to make mistakes in their personal security. Furthermore, that sense of privacy and security provides the platform for people to discuss and plan "a great deal of nefarious activity... illegal goods sales, money laundering, and human exploitation" all happen on the dark web.

When users feel more comfortable in their surroundings, discussing plans for a cyber attack or details of their employer, they might give away more information than they realize.

In terms of "regular" dark web users, who are perhaps simply visiting the dark web version of Facebook or the BBC News website, these privacy issues aren't of a similar concern. The examples provided involve users interacting with and posting on dark web forums.

Posting to these forums can create traceability, especially if the users' operational security is poor (such as using the same username on multiple sites, revealing personal information, etc.).

Can Users Do More to Protect Themselves on the Dark Web?

When asked about security experience and responsibility, James Villeneuve says:

Your IT team simply cannot be the only team with security training. Security awareness training is paramount for all employees, in large corporations as well as SMEs. Empowering your staff with this knowledge can allow them to identify and prevent social engineering, spear-phishing, and ransomware attacks.

Security extends into all areas of life. So many of our important services are online. Learning how to use them safely is becoming a necessity, in that learning how to spot and detect phishing emails goes a long way in securing your online accounts. You should also consider how to create and use strong passwords.

But in terms of the dark web, the basics remain the same, with some extra tweaks. For example, aimlessly browsing the dark web isn't a good idea. You might click a link that takes you somewhere you don't want to go, with dangerous content at the other end.

Secondly, the dark web isn't really made for browsing in the same way as the regular internet.

Finally, there are hoaxes everywhere on the dark web. You'll almost certainly encounter sites offering services that simply don't exist.

Is the Dark Web Illegal?

The dark web itself isn't illegal. The dark web is an overlay network, which is a network that runs on top of another network. So, the network itself is completely legal.

However, there is illegal content on the dark web, some of which could land you in prison for a very long time if caught accessing it.

Then there is the exposure to other dangerous content, such as the darknet marketplaces and so on. Browsing a darknet marketplace isn't itself illegal, but purchasing the illicit goods on there is very likely to be, depending on your locale.

The other consideration goes to local laws regarding encryption. In some countries, the use of strong encryption is illegal as it makes government snooping much harder. Which, of course, they don't like.

You cannot access the dark web without using some form of encryption. The Tor network has strong encryption at its core. Accessing the dark web in a country with anti-encryption laws could see you fall foul of the government, so it pays to check before accessing the dark web.

Stay Safe on the Dark Web

You can access and use the dark web securely, but businesses and other organizations should be aware of the threats that can lurk there. Unfortunately, many of these threats are unseen, which is where dark web monitoring tools such as the Echosec System Platform can make a difference.

 [Source: This article was published in makeuseof.com By Gavin Phillips - Uploaded by the Association Member: Grace Irwin]

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