The Dark Web: How Bad is It?

By Stefania Viscusi May 09, 2016

We hear about it almost daily now. Scary cyber attacks on company networks that threaten the personal information of many. It’s a frightening thing and it’s become our unfortunate reality.

Just recently the FBI even took the time to put out warnings about new ransomware attacks on businesses that occur through malicious emails and without having to download anything.  If things have gotten THIS bad – imagine how much worse it can get? That’s why paying attention to security and knowing how to guard your business against any potential threats is more important than ever right now.

There’s cyber security, there’s Ransomware, and then there’s this thing called the ‘Dark Web’ that everyone is talking about.  

First created with the intention of being more secure, and a place to use the Internet that wasn’t indexed for the public, like other things created with good intentions, the Dark Web has also become an avenue for criminals to do everything from sell hacked data, drugs, weapons and more.

Despite this, there remain many reasons why businesses should become aware of how the Dark Web can help them in these volatile times.

Inside Dark Web is an event fully focused on this topic and helping companies to better understand the topic, including everything from investing to its future implications.

I recently caught up with Danny Rogers, CEO & Founder of Terbium Labs, an information security startup based in Baltimore, MD, to hear his thoughts on the Dark Web.   Our exchange appears below.

Why do companies need to know about the Dark Web?

Companies are falling further and further behind on detecting the occurrence of data breaches, and despite significant efforts, the time it takes them to detect data breaches is getting longer and longer.  Often indicators of compromise appear on the dark web, and having a robust dark web data intelligence program in place will help companies stem the tide of undetected data breaches and help mitigate the damage by bringing detection time down from hundreds of days, to hours and even minutes.

How big is the Dark Web?

While the dark web is large, it is not that large, especially when compared to the broader Internet.  That said, it is certainly large enough and growing quickly enough that it would be impossible for humans to keep up with it by hand.

Is the Dark Web safe?

It depends.  Because of its built-in anonymity, one can consider the dark web to be safer than the open Internet in some aspects, especially if one resides in a repressive regime or wants to avoid surveillance either by governments or by commercial advertising technology providers.  That said, there is little honor among thieves in the digital world, and the dark web is chock full of scams, fake data, and malware. But by taking some basic precautions and practicing good operational security, one can operate safely on the dark web.

What opportunities or challenges have arisen due to its rise?

Obviously, the dark web poses a number of challenges.  Its built-in anonymity makes it strongly appealing to those committing digital crimes or looking to evade law enforcement. It has also become a repository of stolen personal and financial information, a place where hundreds of millions of stolen identities and financial accounts are traded. Because of its relative inaccessibility and anonymity, policing this part of the Internet has posed a unique challenge to law enforcement and commercial industry. That said, anonymity on the Internet has its place, and the dark web has certainly opened up opportunities for activists in repressive regimes to have their voices heard without fear of retribution.

What is the most surprising thing about it?

The most surprising thing about the dark web has been the sheer volume of stolen information traded there. While much of the dark web is used to traffic in illegal drugs, even the smaller portion of it that trades in stolen or fraudulent information is still enormous, encompassing hundreds of millions if not billions of identities and accounts.  We alone track hundreds of thousands of stolen credit cards each month, and that is just the beginning.

What is the difference between the Dark Web and the Deep Web?

It is hard to say, as neither term is particularly well defined.  We define the dark web as the places on the Internet that traffic in illegal goods and stolen information, or the means to obtain those.  Colloquially, I call them "the nasty places on the Internet."  In contrast, the deep web often refers to private regions of the clear, or non-anonymized Internet such as a webmail account, a corporate intranet, or a banking portal.

What unique perspective will you share at the event?

At Terbium, we run Matchlight, the world's first fully private, fully automated dark web data intelligence system. Using that system we've been able to gather some unique statistics about the dark web, and we will use those statistics to debunk some common myths about these parts of the Internet. We will also speak to the characteristics of a robust dark web data monitoring program, something every company should have now that the dark web is becoming an increasingly common place for stolen information to appear.

Danny will present “ Using Data Intelligence to Separate Fact from Fiction on the Dark Web,” at 3:45pm.

Inside Dark Web is happening Thurs., May 12 in NYC. Reserve your spot now!

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

Assignment Desk, Content Management

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