Dark Web Monitoring – Understanding the Why and How 

Small-to-medium-sized businesses are at a disadvantage when it comes to cybercrime. They often don’t have the same resources as larger businesses, and they’re not as well-protected. This means that small businesses are more likely to be hacked, and the data they store is more likely to be stolen. 

The dark web is a particularly dangerous place for these businesses. It’s a hidden part of the internet where criminals can buy and sell illegal goods and services. This includes stolen data, hacking tools, and ransomware. 

Businesses need to monitor the dark web to protect themselves from cybercrime. By monitoring the dark web, they can identify malicious activity before it causes damage, and they can find out about new threats before they become a problem.

The Need for Dark Web Monitoring 

Dark web monitoring (or scanning) is becoming an increasingly vital component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. As cybercrime continues to become more prevalent, organizations must take proactive steps to protect their networks, data, and other sensitive information from malicious actors. Dark web monitoring involves scanning the dark web for potential threats and valuable data that may have been stolen from the organization.  

Additionally, dark web monitoring allows organizations to stay ahead of emerging threats. Organizations can identify new threats on the horizon before they become a problem and take preemptive steps to protect themselves from these cyber threats.

What You (and Your Employees) Don’t know Can Hurt You 

Today, cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach to attacking businesses. They are not just relying on the same old tactics of infiltrating corporate systems and stealing data – they are now targeting business emails as a way to gain access to sensitive information and even demand ransom payments. With the rise of ransomware attacks, phishing scams, and insider threats, businesses of all sizes must be aware of the potential risks associated with their email systems. 

However, many companies are not prioritizing security as an essential element to their business success. Many businesses fail to realize that their employees can be a significant source of risk when it comes to cyber security. While companies may have firewalls and other defenses in place, the human element is often overlooked and this can be just as dangerous, if not more so. Employees are usually the first line of defense when it comes to preventing malicious attacks, and yet many are not properly trained in how to identify suspicious activity or take the necessary steps to protect their own information. 

Employees can be vulnerable to phishing scams, which involve sending emails that appear legitimate but actually contain malicious links or attachments. If an employee clicks on these links or opens the attachment, they may unknowingly download malicious software that can result in a ransomware attack or other cyber-attack. Insiders can also pose a threat, as they may have access to sensitive company data and accounts without their knowledge or authorization.  

In order to ensure employee safety and security, businesses should invest in proper training and education on cybersecurity best practices. This involves teaching employees about potential threats and how to recognize them, as well as equipping them with the tools and knowledge they need to stay safe online. Companies should also consider implementing security protocols, such as multi-factor authentication, to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access. 

Attack? What Attack? 

Most data breaches are not detected immediately, and may not be revealed until many months after the attack. According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020, the average time to identify and contain a data breach is 280 days, or 9 months. This is due to a number of factors that can delay detection and enable malicious actors to remain undetected for extended periods of time. Initially, attackers leverage stealthy tactics such as exploiting weaknesses in security protocols or using malware payloads to gain access to systems and networks. Once the attackers have established their access, they may be able to move laterally within an organization’s networks and systems to quietly gain additional access and escalate privileges to exfiltrate data or sabotage system availability. Furthermore, some sophisticated attack techniques can exploit misconfigured logging policies, allowing malicious actors to further hide their activities within log files or other records. 

The longer an attack is able to remain undetected before it’s discovered by the organization, the more damage can potentially be done and the greater the risk that sensitive data will be exposed or stolen. For this reason, regular monitoring of networks and systems — as part of an organization’s overall security posture — is necessary to detect a breach in a timely manner and reduce the potential damage caused by an attack. Organizations should also take steps to tighten their security protocols, such as reducing privileges and access points wherever possible, while also regularly patching their systems and networks to address any vulnerabilities that may exist. By taking these steps, organizations can reduce the chances of a successful attack and improve their ability to detect breaches before they can do too much damage.  

Are Your Employee Credentials On the Dark Web? 

A dark web scan can be an important tool for organizations to help identify risk exposure and act as an early warning sign for potential cyber security threats. As part of a comprehensive cyber security strategy, dark web scanning is becoming increasingly necessary given the rise of malicious activities on the dark web. By proactively monitoring the dark web, organizations can detect potential risks related to their data and assets before attackers can exploit them. 

A dark web scan works by aggregating publicly available information from dark-web sources, such as hacker forums, databases, and deep-web marketplaces. This data is then analyzed for indicators of compromise (IOCs) that could potentially pose a risk to an organization’s security. These IOCs can include stolen credentials, sensitive information, malicious software, and other cyber threats that can lead to data breaches or other cyberattacks. By using a dark web scan to detect these potential risks, organizations can take preventative measures to mitigate the risk of a successful attack and protect their systems and networks from harm.  

A dark web scan can also protect employee credentials by uncovering any exposed information that could be used maliciously. By scanning the dark web, organizations can detect when employee usernames, passwords, or other sensitive data has been leaked or stolen and act quickly to mitigate the risk of a successful attack. This type of proactive monitoring is essential for organizations to protect their systems and data from potential cyber threats that may be lurking on the dark web. Such scanning can also help organizations take appropriate measures to educate their employees about proper security protocols, such as regularly changing passwords, using two-factor authentication, and avoiding suspicious URLs. 

What to Do When Your Credentials Have Been Exposed 

If your credentials have been exposed publicly, it is important to understand that you can never use that password again. Once a hacker has access to your login information, they may be able to access sensitive data, such as financial information or personal records. Changing your password is the best way to ensure that your account remains secure and that no one else is able to access your personal information. It is also important to regularly change the passwords for all of your online accounts, including banking and social media sites so that you are always using different passwords in different places.  

Because cybercriminals will use your password in an attempt to gain access to other accounts, employees should never use their business email addresses for non-business-related activities. The results of a dark web scan will indicate if any of your employees may have used their business email for non-business reasons and had their credentials compromised, bringing an unnecessary risk to your organization.  

Organizations must train their users on their role in the defense of the organization. Cybersecurity threats are becoming more sophisticated every day and users need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect themselves and their organization. This training should focus on teaching users how to recognize potential risks and how to respond if they come across them. A clear dark web scan may provide peace of mind today, but don’t develop a false sense of security; use the assessment to identify other potential vulnerabilities.

Use a Dark Web Scan as an Early Warning Tool 

A dark web scan is like a regular checkup with your doctor – you may feel fine, but the scan could uncover underlying problems. A dark web scan is a routine test that helps to identify areas of weakness in your cyber defense. Additional tests, like a vulnerability scan, can identify specific areas of weakness and recommend appropriate remediation. 

Implement Comprehensive Cybersecurity Practices 

In the digital age, comprehensive cybersecurity practices are essential for any organization to protect itself from malicious software, data breaches, and other cyber threats. Without a comprehensive suite of cybersecurity measures, organizations may be vulnerable to attack from within or from outside sources. Additionally, weak security measures may lead to the theft of sensitive data, which can be used by attackers to commit identity theft and other financial crimes.  

Therefore, organizations need to ensure they have robust security practices in place to protect their data and networks from potential threats. These measures include the implementation of strong passwords across all employee accounts, two-factor authentication for extra protection, regular patching of operating systems and applications to reduce vulnerabilities, and regular updating of antivirus software to protect against viruses, worms, and other malicious programs.  

Additionally, organizations should provide their employees with cybersecurity awareness training so they can recognize potential threats and take appropriate action if they come across them. Finally, organizations need to run dark web scans regularly to detect any stolen credentials that may be circulating on the dark web. This can help to identify potential breaches before they become a serious threat. Taking these measures will help organizations protect themselves from malicious actors and ensure that their data remains secure.  

By implementing comprehensive cybersecurity practices, organizations can reduce their risk of attack and make sure that their confidential information stays out of the wrong hands. Digital Boardwalk has solutions to strengthen your security defense, including employee training, endpoint protection, vulnerability assessments, and a fully staffed SOC. Contact us today to learn more!