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    What You Need to Know About the Dark Web

    By: Jon Roberts
    July 19, 2021

    Chances are, the first things that come to mind when you hear the words, “dark web,” are illegal, mysterious and dangerous! 

    While all of these words are accurate in some capacity, the real question is: What does the dark web actually mean for a small-business owner like you?

    In short, the dark web is the deepest part of the Internet that you can’t access by using regular browsers. It’s a completely unregulated and uncensored world where users browse, trade and sell anonymously. Shady.

    Imagine, for a moment, that your company data, credit card numbers or employees’ personal information ended up on this exposed platform. Users around the world would have access to your most protected assets, and you’ve never been more vulnerable. 

    But wait! Before you panic, let’s dive into what the dark web actually is. 

    person browsing the dark web

    What is the dark web, really?  

    The Internet consists of two layers: the surface web and the deep web. We use the surface web for day-to-day browsing that we can access anytime, anywhere.

    The deep web houses specific information that we generally don’t have access to such as pages for hospitals, governments and private data of companies. It’s the “behind the scenes,” if you will. It cannot be accessed using regular browsers like Chrome and makes up a whopping 90% of the World Wide Web. 

    Within the deep web is the mysterious world known as the dark web. Often thought of as a hotbed for criminal activity and illegal trading, this area of the Internet is completely unregulated.

    You might be wondering what’s on the dark web. In this virtual den of iniquity, you can buy anything from illegal drugs and hitmen, to credit card numbers and “lifetime” Netflix accounts. Users can browse, buy and sell completely anonymously, if accessed correctly. 

    How to access the dark web, the safe way

    Before, the only people surfing the dark web were cybercriminals, hackers and law enforcement officers. Now, a network browser called Tor exists so that anyone can dive deep if they so choose. 

    Tor browser uses a random path of several encrypted servers known as “nodes” that act as hidden tunnels. These tunnels allow users to enter the dark web and browse without fear of being tracked, guarding browser history with every twist and turn. 

    After downloading Tor, it’s important to proceed with caution. 

    Tips for safe access: 

    • Separate your online identity from your real one.
    • Avoid downloads that might harbor malware. 
    • Beware of scams and false offers.

    Unfortunately, the dark web can be a dangerous place for you—especially if you’re a small business.  

    Sounds daunting. How do I avoid it?

    1. End-user training 

    It comes as no surprise that the dark web includes a large variety of public and private data breaches. Recently, LinkedIn was compromised, and all of its usernames and passwords made their way onto the dark web. 

    The biggest way to avoid a catastrophe like this is to use strong passwords, and never reuse old ones. By implementing user training, you’ll avoid clickbait and hackers that will grab hold of your most valuable information and blast it on the dark web. 

    2. Dark web monitoring service 

    Dark web monitoring is a service that routinely scans the dark web for your information in corners where those goodies are bought and sold. You’re immediately notified if your account numbers or email address ends up on the dark web, so you’re able to take immediate action in changing necessary passwords.

    Some services allow you to input everything from your mother’s maiden name and employee account numbers to gamer tags, to be scanned on the dark web. 

    Marco’s KnowBe4 service includes dark web monitoring and helps guide you through potential identity threats. 

    3. True identity Monitoring 

    To cover all of your bases, it’s crucial that your small business has true identity monitoring. This service monitors all of your personal information, credit cards and bank accounts, and scans them for fraudulent activity. 

    This is more hands-on than dark web monitoring and tries to solve the problem before the stolen information sneaks over to the dark web. 

    Operating your business without a monitoring service is kind of like ending up in the ocean without your life jacket. By regularly scanning all online databases for risks to your identity, you reduce the likelihood that your information will take a deep dive unattended.  

    it’s called the dark web for a reason

    The risks often outweigh the rewards when it comes to exploring the dark web, and it’s important to research the pros and cons before taking the plunge. Steer clear of fishy links and enter at your own risk. 

    While it’s up to you whether you would want to dive into the intriguing world of the dark web, there is no question that your business and its identity should not.

    Don’t risk being exposed to countless kinds of fraud. Contact Marco to learn about our managed security services. We keep your business secure and prevent your private information from finding its way onto the dark web.

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    Topics: Small Businesses, Security, Technology