You’ve likely heard of the dark web on the news or in a movie with cybercriminals. What is it and how can it affect you or your business?
Three Components of the Internet
There are three parts that make up the Internet. First, the open web is the part of the Internet that most of us use every day. It can be easily accessed by using an internet browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge. For example, if you search for what tomorrow’s weather, your internet browser will perform a search, return the results and you can freely click on any of the links. Or if you already know the website address you wish to go to on the open web, you can just type it in the address bar.
Secondly, the deep web, is hidden from public view and cannot be accessed using search engines. You may be using the deep web every day without realizing it. Most organizations have password protected information stored on the deep web. For example, many dentists and doctors keep patient files secure online. These files are hidden from the general public. Only those with the proper authorization have access to the information. The majority of the deep web does not have anything illegal on it. There is no way to know definite numbers, but the deep web is vastly larger than the open web (approximately 4% open web to 96% deep web.)
Lastly, the dark web is a subset of the deep web that contains both legal and illegal websites This is the part of the internet that is known for selling black market things like drugs, weapons and hitmen. If you hear of a big breach in the news where client information has been stolen, it is here on the dark web that this information has likely shown up for sale.
How to Access the Dark Web
To access the dark web, dedicated software must be used, the most common being the Tor browser. It is free software that can be downloaded by doing a Google search. Tor is a way to browse the dark web without anyone being able to identify you or your activities. It is not illegal to have nor is it illegal to be on the dark web. It is, however, illegal to engage in unlawful activities using the dark web.
Tor was originally created by the US government to allow intelligence operatives to exchange information completely anonymously. As part of their strategy for secrecy, they released Tor into the public domain for anyone to use. The more people using the system, the harder it would be to separate the government’s messages from everything else.
This origin highlights the positive aspects of the dark web. There are legitimate reasons why someone may want to protect their online identity. For example, those who would be in danger if their identity became known such as in countries where the government strictly controls journalism and free speech. Whistleblowers also use the dark web to anonymously expose information.
I Don’t Use the Dark Web, So How Does This Affect Me?
As mentioned earlier, the dark web creates a place for cybercriminals to sell stolen data – possibly your personal or business passwords, usernames, banking, online shopping and social media account information. To ignore this possibility is like locking the doors and windows to your house, but leaving the key under the front mat. So what steps can you take to minimize your risk of being exploited by a cybercriminal on the dark web?
There are dark web scanning tools that scan the dark web for your personal or business credentials. Utilizing a password manager and two factor authentication are also great tools to keep your passwords out of the hands of hackers. Future articles will discuss these security features more in-depth. Of course, as your technology partner, allCare IT has all the tools and expertise to minimize your risk. Cybersecurity is very important and we take pride in providing our clients with the best protection.