With its seemingly never-ending web pages and concurrent information, the Web is an abyss that is easy to get lost in. Take Google for example: one search can lead to another, warranting an absurd number of clicks through pages upon pages of URLs.
In the case of the Web, what you see is not always what you get, as there is so much more that lies beyond the surface. A vast well of information is located deep within the depths of the Web.
That information is unraveled within the conveniently named Deep Web, which contains the majority of the Web’s content. For the most part, the Deep Web is filled with harmless and mundane information. However, the Dark Web, the infamous sector of the Deep Web that is occasionally heard about in the news, received its name for many reasons. To the innocent user, it is an unexplorable area - a place where the sun does not shine, but to the wicked Web expert, it is their workspace - a money-making hotspot.
The Dark Web is multifaceted, complicated, and downright intimidating to the ignorant and even the well-informed. To better understand the Dark Web and its potential dangers to your business, it is important to know about the other sections of the Web: the Surface Web, the Deep Web, and finally, the Dark Web.
The Surface Web
As an everyday Web user, you are familiar with the Surface Web, which includes websites such as YouTube and Facebook. Anything that can be discovered by way of a search engine is Surface Web content. Search engines like Google index, Facebook profiles, YouTube videos, and various other platforms that create pages with easily accessible links are all apart of the Surface Web.
The Deep Web
The information that regular search engines cannot index is contained within the Deep Web. Using the same domain names as your run-of-the-mill websites, the Deep Web extends to archived information, message threads, unfinished work, test pages, password-protected pages, and any pages without specific or regularly accessible URLs. Because the information is unindexed, it is difficult to access without special skills and knowledge to do so, but it can be done through any normal web browser.
The Dark Web
Home to both legal and illegal behavior, the Dark Web is a subsection of the Deep Web that, unlike the Surface or Deep Web, cannot be accessed through regular web browsers. Its URLs do not end in .com or .org, but rather in .onion. Therefore, to access the Dark Web, the Tor browser is required. Tor, an acronym for The Onion Routing project, provides users with the means to navigate the extent of the Dark Web by cloaking them with a veil of anonymity.
Factors such as anonymity and inaccessibility encourage illegal behavior. Tracking individuals is difficult, though not impossible, so perpetrators turn to the Dark Web to conceal their sinister behavior and nefarious exploits. While not every aspect of the Dark Web is diabolical, examples of goods and services that can be purchased include drugs, malware, weapons, hitmen, and far worse. The high risk of the Dark Web results in the high rewards that keep the marketplace going strong, even despite the efforts of the authorities to shut it down.
Let's take a deeper dive into what the dark web is, the effects it has had on businesses, and ways hackers target victims:
How Can It Affect Your Business?
If you have never ventured into the risky area that is the Dark Web, there is room for concern about the negative effects it can have on your business.
Whether you are a conglomerate or a small to medium-sized business, you have hoards of information that could be very valuable to someone: your information, your clientele’s information, and all of the coinciding banking information. The seizure of your business is a lucrative venture because they can either steal directly from you and your clientele or hold your business hostage through a variety of means. Within the Dark Web market, stolen information, ransomware, malware, and hacking services are all hot commodities.
The ability to creep into and infect your programs and software leaves your business at the mercy of a faceless hacker. Whatever they desire to take can be theirs, and they can demand a hefty price to have it returned to you.
It is hard to prevent a Dark Web infiltration, but being aware and staying vigilant against it can lessen the damage. In the event of a worst case Dark Web scenario, preparation before a potential attach can shorten the time it takes for you to get your business back on its feet.