Know it so you can protect against it.Whitepaper: Dark Web 201
The Dark Web is notorious and widely known in the world at large. A decade ago, this might not have been the case. As cyber attacks accelerate and nefarious actors all over the globe seek to more rapidly connect with buyers of illegal goods and information, the term Dark Web has entered the lexicon in a prominent way.
According to a description from Tulane University, the Dark Web was leveraged by the United States Department of Defense as a means of communicating anonymously. Its talent for keeping activity anonymous remains, but now protects malicious actors instead of innocent citizens of a given country.
The Dark Web is a place where sellers of illegal drugs, identities, information (passwords, account numbers, etc.) weapons, and many other illegal forms of physical materials and digital information look to traffic these materials across borders. In terms of cybersecurity, the Dark Web is a place where Ransomware-as-a-Service kits and phishing methodologies are traded and leveraged daily.
We really can’t put too fine a point on this fact: When it comes to cybersecurity in particular, the Dark Web is the sourcing ground for attackers to get the tools they need to disrupt your organization and business. Accordingly, it’s become paramount for security teams all over the world to respond faster than ever.
In attempting to access the Dark Web, there’s an invisible line that a person acknowledges they’re crossing – or maybe they don’t. Either way, no one is accessing the Dark Web with a sense of optimism and happiness. It’s a place to buy nefarious things to do bad deeds.
There are many ways to access the Dark Web, including one technique known as onion routing. Onion routing uses multi-layered encryption to create anonymous communication over a computer network. Unpacking these layers of encryption is sort of like peeling an onion.
A web browser used to access the Dark Web is designed to work with the Tor network to browse both the Dark Web and normal websites anonymously, without leaking user information. This ”Tor browser” is the most well-known implementation of onion routing used on the Dark Web.
This is where things might get just a bit confusing, as the Dark Web in 2023 is nearly synonymous with illegal activity. Indeed, the vast majority of activity taking place there is illegal.
So, believe it or not, it’s not illegal to access the Dark Web; there are actually reputable brands and companies who have sites accessible via the Dark Web. It can simply be a dangerous proposition to peruse the Dark Web and engage with whoever you may meet, especially if it means revealing any personal data.
The Dark Web is used by cybercriminals to buy and sell illegal goods and services, coordinate attacks, distribute malware and phishing kits, and share other prebuilt exploits. Specifically, bad actors could use the Dark Web to buy and sell stolen employee credentials from a business. Exit scams are also a major activity on the Dark Web.
An exit scam is put into place when a market administrator or a vendor wants to retire, and is doing so while taking as much money as possible from their buyers. Some additional examples of materials for sale on the Dark Web could include:
The difference between the deep web and the dark web is not necessarily the “findability” of information that exists on either, as both of these types of online information repositories feature data that is not indexed by search engines like Google or Bing. The main difference can be described by the following two aspects:
These differences aren’t necessarily clear-cut, as there are overlapping aspects between the Deep and Dark Web. As opposed to the Surface Web – also known as the Open Web – where anyone with an internet connection can access public-facing websites all over the world, the Deep and Dark Web are attempting to house information that doesn’t necessarily want to be found. Therefore, it’s likely that not all deep- and dark-web file repositories represent good intentions.
As stated earlier, neither of these connected content repository networks are illegal to access. Indeed, they must frequently be accessed by cybersecurity organizations conducting threat hunts or defending their networks or those of their clients.
For instance, if a threat actor is in possession of stolen data from a large healthcare provider, security personnel acting on behalf of the company are likely to conduct a large portion of that investigation throughout the Dark Web. Threat intelligence gathered from the Deep and Dark Web is likely to help future threat hunting teams when analyzing telemetry from beyond their own networks, such as the Deep and Dark Web.
These days, it can seem increasingly difficult to protect valuable assets and data from the reaches of threat actors. This is particularly true for enterprise organizations working with sensitive data in key sectors like healthcare, energy, and finance. That’s why it’s more critical than ever to go on the offensive.
Cybercriminals lurk in the dark web to methodically coordinate their attacks, sell illicit goods, distribute malware and phishing kits, and share other prebuilt exploits. Go behind enemy lines to identify threat actors and their intentions at the earliest stages so you can properly prepare your defenses.
With proper monitoring resources, you can gain visibility into threat actors and their activities. This includes accessing restricted channels and automating intelligence gathering to anticipate attacks targeting your organization, employees, and customers.
Monitor exclusive dark web forums and the private channels of threat actors. In this way, you’ll uncover new cybercriminal tactics and tools used to automate attacks, test for weaknesses, and scam your employees and customers. It’s important to step into their shoes to understand how perpetrators can and will attack you.
It’s critical to use a Dark Web monitoring solution that can keep a continuous eye on your adversaries and engage with threat actors. From these activities, the solution should be able to gather data samples, uncover motives, and help you deploy smarter cybersecurity workflows.