Most people, according to Sixgill VP of Marketing Barry Spielman, know “nothing” about the dark web – an issue that he added is increasingly problematic as a lack of dark web security in cybersecurity frameworks puts data at risk.
Spielman’s bold statement came at the recent InfoSec North America conference earlier this month in New York, where he noted that only a small fraction of the internet is easily accessible by search engines and simple user searching. The rest of data, information, and content exist in two other versions of the internet: The deep web and the dark web. The deep web is likely already accounted for in your security policy to prevent access to untraceable, password protected content that doesn’t appear on search engines or indexes. The dark web, however, often remains unaccounted for.
What is the dark web?
The dark web is a smaller part of the deep web that is explicitly private and requires special software and browsers to gain access. Dark web sites and forums are often used for communities that demand security for intellectual reasons, but it’s also host to a bevy of illegal activity ranging from narcotic sales to calls soliciting government attacks.
“The dark web has become a source for a tremendous amount of cybercrime,” Spielman said during the Demystifying the Dark Web panel discussion.
“We like to call [the dark web] a crowd sourcing of bad guys. When you put very smart people together with no rules, you can get very creative.”
What risk does the dark web pose?
You might now be thinking, “my company doesn’t sell illegal products or use the dark web, so I’m safe!” But if so, you’re incredibly naïve to the potential risks. As we enter the age of big data, the dark web is a host for enterprise information that can be sold for a profit — from passwords to insider trading information.
“You want to buy something, sell something, or you want someone to monetize what you’ve got. If you have insider information but don’t know what to do with it, you turn to the dark web,” Spielman said.
Since the dark web attracts experienced hackers and cybercriminals, law enforcement has only a modicum of luck when monitoring and punishing crime that exists there. As data security threats constantly multiply, so do the dark web sites that facilitate potential data crime. And when one site gets shut down in a high profile case – think Alphabay or Silkroad – it only creates opportunity for the millions of dark web users looking to host a new site.
From a law enforcement point of view, there are no laws on the dark web, Spielman said. The encryption, secrecy and perseverance of dark web forums and sites means there are constant risk and potential threats that need to be monitored. Enterprises should add security measures that manage and monitor potential dark web breaches — a tall order when much of the dark web is encrypted, hidden and secretly managed, he added.
Spielman advises, at bare minimum, creating an incident management plan for any proprietary data and information that could be floating around the dark web, and perhaps implementing cryptographic or intrusion software to prevent against these dark web threats.
“The better intelligence you have about what your threats are, the better you can use your cybersecurity resources in the best way,” Spielman said.