Almost everyone has heard of the mysterious dark web, but many are too afraid to ask about it or investigate it further. It is reputed to be an area of the Internet where illegal activities take place, such as the sale of weapons and drugs.
More recently, the dark web has become the place where sensitive data is sold, such as financial, medical, or personal data of individuals or corporate or counterfeit data.
Cyber attackers on the dark web can use sensitive data for fines other than sales. They can also use this data for financial fraud and identity theft. Stolen documents, such as identities and credit cards, are the second most popular form of commodity on the dark web (after drugs).
However, normal web browsers like Firefox or Chrome cannot access the dark web. The dark web is a place that provides complete anonymity, which is complemented by the fact that cryptocurrency is the main form of payment there.
Its accessibility is limited to specific software called The Onion Router, better known as “Tor”. This software was developed by the US Naval Research Laboratory to safeguard the identities of US Navy intelligence agents. Keeping it private meant that it would not be difficult to locate these agents, which meant that it was made public for anyone to use.
Unlike the surface web, Tor has no security warnings when accessing highly insecure websites. As a result, the use of Tor puts the device at risk of infection and malware. Tor also changes the URL format of websites, with websites ending in “onion”. Currently, it has 2 million daily users.
Is the dark web dangerous?
The dark web is truly a scary place, hidden in the depths of the internet. This is demonstrated by the fact that the dark web constitutes only 0.01% of the deep web. Various illegal activities take place on the dark web, for example, many of the most extreme cyber-attacks that occur on a larger scale are launched from the dark web. The deep web puts businesses at serious risk, as sensitive information can be stolen and sold on the dark web.
Through means such as email phishing and malware, company credit cards and customer data can be stolen through cyber attacks. Previous reports indicate that around 33 million accounts were hacked into LiveJournal and then posted for sale on the dark web. Deep web cyberattacks are commonly launched on unsuspecting businesses. As a result, it is important to be aware of the dangers of the dark web in order to take appropriate action against it.
The good side of the dark web
Although the dark web is commonly used for illegal activities, legal activities are also carried out on it. Journalists and reporters who need to access certain websites to censor government sources do so through the dark web. Additionally, government employees use the dark web to safeguard secret activities.
The dark web has also gained popularity due to the anonymity it provides. It allows completely private communication through methods such as email and Tor-hosted web chats. This is done by passing the request for web pages through a network of proxy servers from various volunteer computers, making the IP address untraceable. The use of cryptocurrency as the main payment option on the dark web means that payments are also completely anonymous.
The bad side of the dark web
On the dark web, cybercriminal communities are widespread. There is a huge market for credit card fraud and identity theft, and millions of credit cards are posted for sale at any given time.
In addition, the dark web hosts “Cybercrime as a Service” deals, where criminals sell a variety of tools and services to use against businesses. Phishing emails and malware serve as a means of obtaining a company’s financial details and, as a result, gaining access to sensitive information. Employees are common targets, as cyber attackers can access all company information from a single employee.
The anonymity of the dark web combined with the use of cryptocurrencies makes it difficult to track any transaction or sale. Both forums and marketplaces exist on the dark web.
The forums involve discussions of procedures and techniques for carrying out cyberattacks, along with planning for potential sales. Dark web marketplaces are similar to e-commerce sites on the surface web, but they serve malicious purposes instead. Illegal information is often sold here, along with weapons and drugs.
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The ugly side of the dark web
Small businesses are most at risk from a dark web cyberattack. They may not have the cyber security resources to deal with it, and as a result, they may steal all your sensitive information. However, the worst part is the fact that cyberattacks on businesses happen entirely on the dark web. Companies may not even know that your information has been stolen and put up for sale on the dark web.
In addition, the personal data of employees and customers can also be stolen and used for blackmail. Such cyberattacks are common and lucrative for cyber attackers due to the difficulty of tracking them and the ability to make huge profits through these means. Unfortunately, millions of such events happen to unsuspecting companies every day. Cyber attackers can also use stolen personal information to create new identities, making it even more difficult to track.
Stolen data often have countless life cycles in dark web marketplaces. Closed forums can be used to post data for sale, with either a high or low barrier to entry.
The data can even be posted for free on some forums and pasting sites, or sold to known buyers. This would be just one life cycle of the data. It would be sold and traded multiple times on the dark web.