IT and cybersecurity teams are so inundated with security notifications and alerts within their own systems that it’s difficult to monitor malicious external environments, which only makes them that much more threatening.
In March, a high-profile data breach made national headlines when personally identifiable information related to hundreds of lawmakers and staff was leaked on the dark web. The cybersecurity incident involved DC Health Link, an online marketplace that administers health plans for Congressional and Capitol staff members. According to news reports, the FBI had successfully purchased some of the data, which included social security numbers and other sensitive information, on the dark web.
Due to the prominence of the victims, the story was picked up by a large number of media outlets that rarely cover cyber security crimes related to the dark web. The story not only shed light on one of the most dangerous aspects of the Internet, but also reminded us that the dark web continues to serve as fertile ground for cybercriminals.
The dark web is only getting more ominous
Once upon a time, the dark web was full of bad actors focused primarily on stealing banking and financial information. Cybercriminals were there to buy, sell and trade large data sets belonging to financial institutions. The goal: to steal names, security numbers and credit card information to hack into people’s accounts and deal with identity theft attacks. But as technology has evolved and become more sophisticated, so have the bad actors lurking on the dark web and underground forums, as well as the tools they use.
What is even more concerning is the number of inexperienced hackers who are becoming more destructive with the ever-growing malware-as-a-service (MaaS) market. These hobbyist threat actors are building and operating entire malware infrastructures, selling access to cybercrime software tools without running the risk of committing cybercrime.
Cybercriminals have created a huge market for malware, including the “Info Stealer” malware that captures personal information from vulnerable networks and computer systems. This malware is used to find compromised credentials that can be used to plan large and sophisticated attacks targeting everyone from small and medium-sized businesses to corporate enterprises and government organizations with thousands of employees.
These attacks come from all directions, from state-sponsored campaigns used to overthrow government parties and social movements to large-scale assaults on some of the world’s largest companies. And hackers aren’t just looking for personally identifiable information, they want to steal intellectual property and proprietary data. Their goals have become much more nefarious with irreversible consequences that endanger entire industries.
Meanwhile, as malware like “Info Stealer” gains more traction among cybercriminals, the dark web is still full of stories, tactics, and tips for using traditional cybercrime tools like ransomware, trojan, spyware, adware, and far more.
Why the dark web is a threat to your organization
For IT and cybersecurity teams, one of the most threatening aspects of the dark web is that you simply don’t know what you don’t know. No matter how powerful your cybersecurity technology is, it’s difficult to police every dark corner of the Internet. Also, as a business, your security controls are limited. Your vendors, partners, customers, and even employees could accidentally compromise your entire infrastructure before you even realize there’s a problem.
For example, in today’s world of hybrid and remote work environments, an organization’s security tools cannot protect devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets that are used outside of a company’s security boundaries. With so many disparate systems, employees are unknowingly creating blind spots that provide little or no visibility to the team tasked with protecting their organization’s IT systems. Instead of having to “hack” a network, cybercriminals can often enter the perimeter directly with compromised credentials acquired on the dark web.
The unfortunate reality is that many organizations simply don’t have the staff or resources to monitor the dark web and underground forums where hackers congregate. Cybersecurity technology is a necessary defense, but security teams need an additional layer of protection to monitor threat environments and detect leaked credentials.
Larger organizations with extensive IT and security teams often have entire departments dedicated to monitoring the dark web to identify and track cybersecurity threats before they become serious incidents. But smaller teams with barely enough manpower to handle incoming security alerts simply don’t have the bandwidth to police the darkest corners of the Internet.
Beacon Service: Dark web surveillance so you don’t have to
No sector is untouched when it comes to cybersecurity attacks caused by compromised credentials. Some of the biggest data breaches of the past year involved big brands, including Microsoft, Uber and Rockstar Games (the company behind Grand Theft Auto), all of which fell victim to attacks stemming from compromised credentials. If a company like Microsoft, with its vast resources and staff, can’t protect its systems, what luck is a smaller organization with a lean IT team working on a shoestring budget?
enough took this question to heart and, in response, launched its Beacon Service. The service monitors the dark web and underground forums so its customers don’t have to. Because compromised credentials are a major component of cyberattacks, Cynet’s Lighthouse service is specifically focused on monitoring credential theft. The team looks for the “freshest” data it can find. From there, the team can easily digest and navigate large data sets to uncover insights about our customers in areas that are left unprotected by cybersecurity platforms.
By monitoring the dark web, Cynet gains deep insight into cybercriminal behavior. The Lighthouse service identifies newly released exploits used or searched for by threat actors. Cynet’s team can track malicious activity and sometimes find data breaches affecting third parties connected to its customers, allowing Cynet to notify customers of a potential data breach if one of its suppliers or partners was hacked.
In fact, Cynet has been able to perform hundreds of security disclosures for companies not connected to Cynet, while protecting their customers’ data in the process. The Lighthouse team regularly publishes their findings in the Lighthouse series on the Cynet blog.
How to strengthen your cybersecurity posture
The activity that can be found on the dark web and the ever-increasing threats emerging from these forums are alarming for cybersecurity professionals. And if you have a small IT team that doesn’t have the staff and skills to stay ahead of these threats, it can seem impossible to prepare for the impact.
But there’s something you can do to help your organization stay resilient to whatever the dark web throws at you.
Where to start? You can start with the NIST CSF framework. Check out Cynet’s e-book: “NIST CSF Mapping Easy – How to organize your security stack with the Cyber Defense Matrix.” answers your top questions about the NIST CSF framework for managing cybersecurity risks along with easy-to-use tools that allow you to visualize your existing security program and identify any gaps or overlaps in your technology stack cyber security
Ready to plug the holes in your cybersecurity program? Get the eBook here.
At Ikaroa, we understand the importance of staying safe and secure online, which is why we want to emphasize the dangers of the Dark Web and how it can pose one of the biggest cybersecurity threats to any individual or business. Many people don’t know much about the Dark Web, but what lies beneath the surface may be more concerning than you think.
The Dark Web is a collection of websites that are not indexed on popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This hidden web is not accessible to the average web surfer and is used to carry out a variety of illicit activities, including threats, extortion, and selling stolen data and credentials.
Data theft is a serious problem on the Dark Web, as hackers can easily purchase access to basic passwords, credit card numbers, bank accounts and other personal information. This data is often used to access an individual’s social media accounts and gain access to personal computers or networks. Once the hackers have access, they can steal and sell digital assets or use them to commit identity theft.
The security and privacy of your data is paramount in the digital age, and it’s important to practice a few basic steps to ensure your data isn’t compromised. Using a unique password for each online account and implementing 2-factor authentication are great ways to increase your security. Additionally, using end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms, such as signa.com, can help ensure the privacy of your data and messages. While these steps will help, it is vital to be aware that the Dark Web is real and no one is immune to its threats.
At Ikaroa, we understand how important it is to stay secure and private online, which is why we are committed to providing our customers with the best possible security solutions. We understand the risks that the Dark Web poses to any individual or business, and are working to help our customers stay safe and secure in the digital age.