The Monster Under the Bed: How to Stop Worrying About the Dark Web


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Monday, September 20, 2021

The dark web is a scary place. Illuminate the shadows with SSO and optimized password security.

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The Monster Under the Bed: How to Stop Worrying About the Dark Web
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The dark web is a mass of websites that cannot be viewed or located using traditional search engines or accessed via conventional web browsers, because their location and identity are hidden through encryption tools such as TOR.

There are two sides to the dark web: legal and illegal.

Legal uses of the dark web include anonymous information sharing for academic research and background verifications. There’s also a large majority of major social media and news media sites on the dark web, allowing users can access and read them anonymously.

The darker side includes illegal uses of the dark web such as mass data harvests, buying and selling stolen data like user login credentials, sensitive information like social security numbers and payment card information.

What does this mean for cyber security?

Monitoring the dark web for information that could target your business helps get ahead of threats. Recently, stolen login credentials have been of considerable concern, with over 37% of data breaches begging with dark web leaks.

Illegal dark web forums and sites are hubs for selling stolen credentials and information, along with malware to hack and exploit individuals, businesses and potentially mass conglomerates and government bodies. Cybercriminals use this information to target businesses and gain network access for ransomware attacks.

Common attack strategies include exploitative methods such as:

  • Phishing emails: These attacks utilize stolen business information to appear more authentic. Victims, such as your employees, can be tricked into revealing login credentials or allowing malware directly onto networks.
  • Credential stuffing: This approach uses stolen credentials en-masse to manipulate and exploit the possibility of password reuse and infrequent password updates - a common issue in today's modern workplace. These attacks try to find a match within your business network to gain unauthorized access and sell further data.

How can you avoid the dangers of the dark web?

1.Enable two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a supplementary layer of security used to ensure only authenticated users gain access to an online account. Initially, an employee will enter their username and a password as usual. Then, rather immediately gaining access, they’ll be required to provide additional authentification factors, which could not typically be found in one singular breach.

With 2FA, a potential compromise of one individual factor won’t compromise the account itself. So, even if an employee's password is compromised in a dark web breach, the chances of the cybercriminal having access to both factors aren’t high.

2.Employ an Single Sign-On solution

Single Sign-On (SSO) is yet another effective layer of security. Users are only required to recall one set of credentials, lowering the number of passwords employees have to recall and creating a culture of producing more robust credentials with a high level of entropy. This reduces the risk of unsafe sharing, repeat passwords and poor passwords that can be easily cracked via social engineering.

3.Utilize a password manager

Security experts love a password manager, and for a good reason - they’re the one-stop-shop for protecting you against dark web dangers.

Password managers produce unique, complex passwords for every site. They then store them securely in an encrypted, double-blind manner, and enter them automatically on different browsers and computing devices. Password managers be used as browser extensions or mobile apps that fill out login pages with employees' usernames and passwords.

There are various benefits of employing a password manager. Firstly, employees don't have to memorize any passwords, except one master password. That means employees are more likely to comply with complex and tedious security advice, such as never recycling a password and always using high entropy passwords, such as $Zh5vj^bjeh8**bw7$HHe)0(.

Next, password managers help defend against phishing attacks - a widespread tactic of dark web cybercriminals that directs employees to fraudulent websites and tricks them into entering their passwords. Password managers avoid this issue by only offering login credentials when prompted by the authorized website.

As a bonus, an increasingly large percentage of password managers now have features that tell employees and employers when a site has experienced a data breach - essential when protecting against the dark web. They can also inform the necessary party if a password they have been using has been found in a stockpile of stolen user data, for example, within the over 555 million passwords that have currently been located.

When employees receive this notification, it’s recommended that the whole body of staff change their passwords immediately.

4.Have a backup plan in case of a breach

By encrypting data at the source, using locked files and storage, you reduce the potential damage that a cybercriminal could cause.

It’s necessary to help protect private information and sensitive data and enhance communication between client apps and servers. In essence, when company data is encrypted, even when an unauthorized entity gains access, they won’t be able to read it and steal valuable information.

But it isn’t necessary to encrypt all data - this would be costly and inefficient. Instead, operate on a 'encrypt when sharing' basis, so any data exposed via email, sharing or other server breaches won’t be read.

The dark web doesn't have to be scary; there are plenty of exciting research and verification opportunities, but this comes with a price. Cybercriminals use the dark web as a shopping mall for your business' data, but by keeping it secure, it doesn't have to feel like the monster under the bed it was initially made out to be.

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