Why Things You Didn’t Know About The Dark Web Could Be Your Biggest Cybersecurity Threat


The Biggest Cybersecurity Threat

Cybersecurity and IT teams are so inundated with security notifications and alerts within their own systems that it is difficult to monitor external malicious environments – which only makes them that much more threatening.

In March, a high-profile data breach made national headlines when personally identifiable information related to hundreds of lawmakers and their staff was leaked on the dark web. The cybersecurity incident involved DC Health Link, an online marketplace that manages health plans for members of Congress and Capitol Hill staff. According to news reports, the FBI has managed to purchase some data – including social security numbers and other sensitive information – on the dark web.

Due to the prominence of the victims, the story was picked up by many media outlets that rarely cover dark web related cybersecurity crimes. This story not only sheds light on one of the most dangerous aspects of the internet, but also reminds us that the dark web continues to be fertile ground for cybercriminals.

The dark web is getting more and more ominous

Once upon a time, the dark web was full of bad actors primarily focused on stealing banking and financial information. Cybercriminals are there to buy, sell, and trade large datasets belonging to financial institutions. The goal: steal names, security numbers, and credit card information to hack into people’s accounts and deal with identity theft attacks. But as technology evolves and becomes more sophisticated, so do the bad actors lurking on the dark web and underground forums and the tools they use.

Even more worrying is the number of inexperienced hackers who are becoming more and more destructive with the ever-expanding Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS) market. These amateur threat actors build and operate entire malware infrastructures, selling access to cybercrime software tools without putting themselves at risk of committing cybercrime.

Cybercriminals have created a huge market for malicious software, including “Info Stealer” malware that captures personal information from vulnerable computer systems and networks. This malware is used to discover compromised credentials that can be used to plan large, sophisticated attacks targeting everyone from small and medium businesses to corporate enterprises and government organizations with thousands of employees.

These attacks have come from all directions, from state-sponsored campaigns used to overthrow government parties and social movements to massive attacks on some of the world’s largest corporations. And hackers aren’t just after personally identifiable information – they want to steal intellectual property and proprietary data. Their aims become far more nefarious with irreversible consequences that endanger entire industries.

Meanwhile, as malicious software like “Info Stealer” gains more traction among cybercriminals, the dark web is still full of stories, tactics, and tips for using traditional cybercrime tools like ransomware, Trojans, Spyware, adware, and others.

Why the dark web is a threat to your organization

For cybersecurity and IT teams, one of the most threatening aspects of the dark web is that you don’t know what you don’t know. No matter how strong your cybersecurity technology is, it’s difficult to monitor every dark corner of the Internet. Also, as a business, your security controls are limited. Vendors, partners, clients, and even your employees can accidentally compromise your entire infrastructure before you even realize there’s a problem.

For example, in today’s hybrid and remote work environment, an organization’s security tools cannot secure devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets used outside of business security boundaries. With so many different systems, employees subconsciously create blind spots that offer little or no visibility to the team charged with maintaining their organization’s computer systems. Instead of having to “hack” networks, cybercriminals can often log into perimeters with compromised credentials purchased on the dark web.

The unfortunate reality is that many organizations don’t have the headcount or the resources to monitor the dark web and underground forums where hackers congregate. Cybersecurity technology is a necessary defense, but security teams need an extra layer of protection to monitor threatening environments and detect leaked credentials.

Larger organizations with extensive IT and security teams often have entire departments devoted to monitoring the dark web to identify and track cybersecurity threats before they become serious incidents. But smaller teams that are barely manned to manage incoming security alerts don’t have the bandwidth to police the darkest corners of the Internet.

Lighthouse Service: Monitors the dark web so you don’t have to

No sector is left untouched when it comes to cybersecurity attacks caused by compromised credentials. Some of last year’s biggest data breaches affected major brands, including Microsoft, Uber and Rockstar Games (the company behind Grand Theft Auto) – all of which fell victim to compromised credentials. If a company like Microsoft – with lots of resources and headcount – can’t protect its systems, what’s in it for a smaller organization with a lean IT team working on a tight budget?

Reasonable responded to this question and, in response, launched its Lighthouse Service. The service monitors the dark web and underground forums so its customers don’t have to. Because compromised credentials are a key component of cyber attacks, Cynet’s Lighthouse Service is focused specifically on monitoring credential theft. The team looks for the “latest” data it can find. From there teams can digest and easily navigate large datasets to detect information about our customers in areas not protected by cybersecurity platforms.

By monitoring the dark web, Cynet gains deep insight into the behavior of cybercriminals. The Lighthouse service identifies newly launched exploits that threat actors are using or looking for. Cynet’s team can track malicious activity and sometimes find data breaches affecting third parties connected to its customers – enabling Cynet to notify customers of potential data leaks if one of their vendors or partners is compromised.

In fact, Cynet has been able to perform hundreds of security disclosures for companies not connected to Cynet, while protecting its customer data in the process. The Lighthouse Team regularly publishes its findings in Lighthouse Series on the Cynet blog.

How to strengthen your cybersecurity posture

The activity discoverable on the dark web and the ever-evolving threats emerging from these forums worry cybersecurity professionals. And if you run a small IT team that doesn’t have the staff and skills to stay ahead of these threats – it can feel impossible to prepare for impact.

However, there is something you can do to help your organization stay resilient against whatever the dark web throws its way.

Where to start? You can start with NIST’s CSF framework. Check out Cynet’s ebooks: “NIST CSF Mapping Made Easy – How to organize your security stack with Cyber ​​Defense Matrix.” It answers your biggest questions about NIST’s CSF framework for managing cybersecurity risk along with easy-to-use tools that allow you to visualize your existing security programs and identify gaps or overlaps in your cybersecurity technology stack.

Ready to close the holes in your cybersecurity program? Get the ebook here.

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