Challenges arriving with the rise of the dark web

Director of Strategic Accounts

Of all the problems that businesses face in brand protection, dark web challenges land among the most significant. While the environment itself is not new, organizations have started to realize they need visibility to better understand the scale of their threats.

Accessible only via anonymizing software, it has at certain times taken on the role of a digital black market – vulnerable to nefarious individuals looking to buy and sell illegal goods, from drugs and weapons to reams of personal data.

The mystery that surrounds the dark web – combined with the illicit activity that takes place within it – has made it an attractive topic of conversation. The dark web first became a part of the public vernacular when Silk Road (previously the biggest marketplace on the dark web) was famously shut down by the FBI and Europol in 2014. Since then it has become a popular topic of debate.

Although few could have predicted it back then, the dark web can also impact businesses from a brand protection point of view. We often see that, once a business has suffered from a data breach, the hacker(s) responsible will seek to sell or pass on seized information through the dark web.

Just earlier this year, for example, Grant West was jailed for more than 10 years after selling customer data seized from a number of huge multinational corporations. According to The Guardian, the cost of the scam was estimated to be around £200,000.

Stories like this have forced brands across several sectors (primarily those that hold large amounts of personal and/or valuable data) to take appropriate measures to protect themselves from the dark web.

However, this is not a problem limited to a fraction of businesses. Rather, it is something every organization operating in the online world will need to remain wary of.

Contrary to the popular opinion that the dark web is just an environment that hosts the transaction of illegal goods, it’s also rife with confidential data and information that has been seized through cyber attacks, and can be hugely damaging to the businesses if made public. This can range from confidential documentation, to pictures and video files, and more.

While many brand protection threats can be prevented, the dark web is an exception to this rule. Unlike other environments, there is no enforcement mechanism that can be used by brands to protect themselves effectively.

However, steps can be taken to mitigate the risk. MarkMonitor has a team of dark web experts that can more accurately defend against this threat using a range of tools and technologies, ensuring customers are notified of problems as quickly as possible so the threat can be neutralized.

Europol also recently announced the formation of a new EU-wide dark web team, which aims to introduce a more coordinated approach to tackling criminality on the dark web.

It’s moves like this that quickly make an organization realize how serious the dark web threat can be. Many might think they are exempt from the risk, but the reality is that all businesses must prepare for it. With the dark web continuing to grow, and the scammers using it becoming ever more sophisticated, it needs to be included within every online brand protection strategy.

Read more here about solutions to dark web threats.

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Alison Simpson
With more than 13 years’ experience in the domain industry, Alison has managed all aspects of Corporate Domain Managem... More