By its very nature, the dark web is a mysterious side of the internet that contains content that can be a very real threat to businesses. As a highly experienced IT company whose priority is to help guard businesses against the damage caused by viruses, malware and cyber threats, Net Primates is ideally placed to protect your business-critical systems from the dark web.

What is the dark web?

The dark web is the term used to describe the secret part of the internet that isn’t visible or accessible via the average browser, like Google or Bing, that you use on your laptop, PC, smartphone or other devices. 

It contains extensive illegal and illicit content, as well as sensitive information about individuals, businesses and data.

How is the dark web different?

The difference between the dark web and the visible part of the internet that we all access every day, is that the dark web contains a lot of information that has been stolen in various different ways. Most commonly, it could have been stolen by social engineering or data theft by viruses malware.

Often, you will find a huge amount of identifiable information like usernames with email passwords that could cause significant harm and inconvenience to people if it reaches the wrong hands.

Dark web content is encrypted, and beyond the reach of government and law enforcement. For this reason, it’s often referred to as the digital Wild West.

Is the dark web illegal?

Perhaps surprisingly, the dark web itself is 100% legal. It’s the content contained within it that is often illegal.

Why is the dark web used by criminals?

Because of how the dark web is set up, hidden behind encryption and not viewable by governments and law enforcement agencies, the dark web is a popular place for cyber criminals to lurk. 

It is also a breeding ground for illegal trading in drugs and firearms, for example, to take place. 

It’s an easy place to remain anonymous and it’s very difficult to be tracked there.

How do people access the dark web?

We wouldn’t recommend that you go near it, but you can access the dark web via custom apps or special software that you can download and install, like the Tor Browser. 

If there is a reason you need to access the dark web, you should proceed with a great deal of caution. 

First, make sure that you connect to a reliable and safe VPN, to conceal your IP address and encrypt your internet connection. You must also ensure you have the latest antivirus and malware protection. 

Then, you can access dark web sites by typing in their specific URL addresses which all, incidentally, end with .onion rather than .com or and so on.

Why do I need to know about the dark web?

With anything, being forewarned is forearmed. 

Knowing about the dark web is a useful reminder to be vigilant and to properly protect the information that is stored on your electronic devices. 

Your company’s sensitive data could end up on the dark web, to be used by unscrupulous cyber criminals, if you don’t have all the appropriate protection in place.

How do I know if my employees’ details are on the dark web?

We can run a dark web scan, using your employees’ email addresses, with special software to check if their details are appearing on the dark web alongside a password. 

This scan will also often also tell us where those details have come from, such as a breach of another provider. 

In some cases, we can even see what their password is, which we can then discuss with you how best to remediate and protect yourself against potential damage.

If my employee’s details are found on the dark web, does it mean that my company has been hacked?

No, it doesn’t mean you have been hacked. Often, their username and password details being shared on the dark web will be a breach of security that’s happened through another provider. 

What is crucial to remember is that, if the affected member of staff is using the same username and password on other platforms, their risk of further exposure is increased. 

That’s why we strongly advise that all your employees use a password manager. 

Because a password manager generates unique usernames and passwords for each of their different systems and platforms, it means that, if one system or platform is breached, the others won’t be.

What information do cyber criminals try to steal through the dark web?

Your employees’ details are rich pickings for cyber criminals. There is a lot of identifiable information, ie usernames, passwords, payment details and credit cards stored online, that is all vulnerable to cyber theft.

Someone’s username and password can often be a valuable entry to a vault of information including your suppliers’ and customers’ credit card details and payment information, names and addresses and so on.

What could happen if criminals get your employees’ details from the dark web?

The worst case scenario, if you and your employees are not securely protected, is that, if your username and password appear on the dark web, and you use the same username and password across various locations, the criminals can then gain access to those other sites. 

They could carry out something called a password stuffing attack, where they will take your username and your password and try using that information in a number of different locations. 

If you’re using the same details across different locations, they can gain access – risking any information that’s held behind those login details.

How to protect your company on the internet

Use a password manager to create sophisticated passwords

We always recommend that companies and individuals use unique, sophisticated passwords generated by a password manager.

You will have one strong master password to access your password manager, that only you know.

Then, you can use your password manager to generate different random passwords for each platform and system you use. This means that, if your username and password are ever compromised on a particular site, you won’t have the risk of data breach to any other sites.

Also, it is quick and easy to use your password manager to update any usernames and passwords that have been stolen.

Password managers are a robust way to store and easily update passwords across the board. They have replaced the older practice that many larger companies implemented, where they would ask employees to rotate and update their passwords every 90 days, for example.

This wasn’t a particularly secure process, as individuals would often just increase the number at the end of their password, to make it easier for them to remember, but that would also mean the password wasn’t particularly safe from cyber attack.

Use two-factor authentication (2FA)

We recommend that you take advantage of the benefits of two factor authentication (also known as multi-factor authentication (MFA)) on any site that offers it. It adds an extra layer of protection to your login process. 

And, should your username and password ever be captured or breached, your MFA or 2FA should prevent somebody from being able to log in to your accounts and access your data. 

Protect your business by investing in quality IT support

We advise that you work with a professional, expert and trusted IT provider to review all aspects of your IT setup and cyber security. This will ensure that you are operating with best practices across the board and with optimum performance.

How Net Primates can help

Using special software, we can do a dark web scan, inputting your and your employees’ email addresses so that the software can see if your data appears anywhere on the dark web and to ascertain what exposure you currently have. If we do detect an exposure, we can quickly assess the situation and take whatever measures we need to in order to fix the potential risk.

Net Primates can review your current setup, assess how you are currently storing and sharing your usernames and passwords, and offer advice on how to improve your processes moving forward.

How you can contact Net Primates

Our expert and friendly team at Net Primates is here to help you deal with everything relating to cyber security, protecting you, your company, your customers and your suppliers from potential data theft.

Email [email protected]

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Call 02381 800 800