Dark web threats are rising. Should small businesses be concerned?
You’ve toiled long and hard, burning the midnight oil for many moons to build the business of your dreams. Oodles of hours spent with your head buried in your laptop trying to resolve the nitty-gritty so you could construct your venture in a successful manner. It’s been built on a bed of limitless sacrifices you’ve made to achieve that singular goal.
And, out of the blue, you wake up one day to find everything has been lost to a cyber attack. Funds lost, credentials stolen, and a bleak possibility of getting everything back.
That is so often the case with small and medium-sized businesses. Years of hard work going down the drain because they weren’t careful enough to safeguard it.
According to a study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance, almost 60% of small and medium-sized businesses tend to shut down within six months of a cyber attack. And the dark web is the cynosure of all such illicit activities – the breeding ground for cybercriminals.
How does the dark web work?
In a bid to find a solution, it’s essential to know how the problem works. Here’s a simple way to understand the dark web.
Picture a submerged iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is what you call the surface web – the internet that is easily accessible to regular people.
Now, go deeper into the water; almost 50% of the submerged iceberg represents the deep web.
This is the information not indexed by search engines and only accessible via credentials. For instance, academic databases, financial records, government, and medical records.
Now, let’s talk about the bottom part of the iceberg – this is the dark web. This is the place your passwords would be available if they’re stolen in the aftermath of a data breach. This part of the web is masked and not easily accessible through the usual browsers we use daily. It can be accessed only by special browsers.
The rising threat of the dark web
Identity theft and stolen credentials are the results of most of the data breaches conducted online. According to the Verizon/Ponemon Institute Data Breach Investigations Report, credentials were involved in 60% of the data breaches in 2021, while Personally Identifying Data (PII) was exposed in 40% of those breaches in the same time period.
Stolen credentials and personal data are sold on the dark web for extremely low prices. This stolen information can be used for various activities, such as securing credit, mortgages, loans, and tax refunds.
To help you understand the wide, terrifying scope of the dark web, here’s another statistic:
In 2022, it was reported that there were over 24.6 billion sets of usernames and passwords in circulation on the dark web. That accounts for four sets of credentials for every person on Earth. Not just that, but those numbers increased by 65% after this study was conducted in 2020.
Ranging from stolen credit cards and stolen account information of financial institutions to forged real estate documents and compromised medical records – the dark web houses every little detail that could harm your life financially and mentally.
Three reasons why small businesses could be gravely affected
Cyber attacks have been a growing cause of concern since the rise of the internet. It can incur heavy losses, regardless of how big or small your business is; however, small businesses seem to take the greatest hits. Let’s take a look at three reasons why small businesses run the risk of falling prey to data breaches orchestrated by cyber criminals.
1. Lack of due diligence regarding cybersecurity
Inc.com collaborated with Cisco and the National Center for the Middle Market to conduct a study that involved 1,377 CEOs of small and mid-sized businesses regarding cybersecurity. It was found that 62% of these businesses didn't have an activity cybersecurity strategy – and in some cases, no strategy at all.
A data report by Switchfast also found that 26% of small business CEOs and employees didn't even have the faintest idea of what the dark web was, let alone the grave dangers it poses to their business.
A lack of awareness regarding cyber threats and negligence toward building robust security are the two main reasons that can be attributed to this cause. Having little or no knowledge about cyber threats makes them easy targets for data breaches. Such negligence toward cybersecurity can easily put these companies out of business.
2. Rise of CaaS
CaaS stands for Cybercrime-as-a-service. The very fact that cybercrime has been standardized into an industry with a low barrier to entry for anyone to get in should be enough for you to worry about your sensitive data.
CaaS involves a group of criminals who offer kits and other packaged services to less-experienced criminals. In 2017, Europol released a new study that flagged CaaS as a major facilitator of serious online crimes, as well as traditional crimes like illegal weapons sales.
In a nutshell, unaware businesses coupled with a low barrier to entry for cybercrime is nothing short of gold for criminals.
3. Lack of resources
Large conglomerates and businesses have sufficient funds to build a robust security strategy and deploy resources to protect their assets. However, small and mid-sized businesses may not enjoy this luxury, irrespective of whether they’re aware of cyber threats or not. This is yet another reason why they’re easy to target.
4 ways small businesses can safeguard themselves
Whether big or small, every type of business faces a threat from cybercriminals. So, how can you protect yourself vigilantly without falling prey to these attacks? Here are four simple ways.
1. Build a robust cybersecurity strategy
Having the right strategy in place will help you ensure your critical assets and sensitive data are well protected from the prying eyes of cyber attackers. Here are four steps to follow:
1) Know the current security status
Having knowledge about the current activities and resources deployed for cybersecurity will serve as the bedrock for creating a robust security strategy and help you plan ahead.
2) Create an inventory of the critical assets of your business
Whether it's customer data, employee records, or financial records, make sure you know the crowned jewels of your business that need the foremost protection. That way, you can plan resources to manage the security for these assets frugally.
3) Appoint leaders for accountability
Your business should have a go-to person for all security-related matters, and that shouldn’t involve only IT personnel. Having a leader who can work cross-functionally to create awareness as well as the right strategy will go a long way in keeping a business safe.
2. Train your employees on the right security measures
Be it 1, 10, or 50, every organization must follow stringent security measures to avoid falling prey to data breaches. Conduct regular training sessions for your employees for best security practices.
One practice can be creating passwords that have multiple different characters and are hard to crack. Employees often tend to recycle passwords for multiple accounts, and that can lead to leakage in your security strategy.
3. Deploy the right web monitoring and response tools
Having the right tools can go a long way in identifying if your business is at risk of a potential data breach. Whenever there’s such a case, there’s a high possibility the leaked data will be available on the black market. Small businesses and companies can deploy dark web monitoring tools to remain alert if their sensitive information is listed on the dark web and combat it.
Dark web monitoring tools are essential because they act as your eyes on the dark web. The sooner you get to know about a data breach, the faster you can take the right actions to recover from it.
We recommend using InsecureWeb, a robust and affordable Digital Attack Surface Analysis platform that can conduct dark web scans, typosquatting, and provide email security. It monitors the shadowy realm of black market sites, P2P networks, hidden chat rooms, botnets, and private websites.
InsecureWeb boasts a complete database consisting of 18 billion records of data breaches and can help massively in mitigating the dangers of cyber attacks.
With this tool, users can do the following:
Search the dark web for compromised data using ethical hacking practices
Monitor the dark web for identifying stolen data
Use it as a sales tool for finding confidential information about business and closing new deals eventually mitigate it.
InsecureWeb is currently offering a lifetime deal through which you can monitor all email addresses in 3 different domains, 10 usernames, phone numbers, or personal emails for an entire year. The deal has 3,000 credits that’ll be renewed automatically every year.
InsecureWeb is a Digital Attack Surface Analysis platform that monitors the dark web for potential data breaches or stolen information. It can help businesses conduct dark web scans and also provide email security. This tool is currently available for a lifetime deal on Pitchground.
If you’re running on a shoestring budget and wish to ensure security for your business, the InsecureWeb Lifetime Deal is definitely worth a try.