A consequence of many successful hacks and ransomware attacks is that sensitive company data ends up on the dark web. Sometimes it is being offered for sale as part of a large collection of stolen data, other time it is simply posted in plain text for anyone to read. Ransomware often threatens to leak business’s data if the ransom demand is not met.
At best, this data could be just names and addresses, which are useful in themselves for identity thieves. At worst it could be your passwords, bank details, or credit card numbers.
In this article we’re going to cover what the dark web is, the risks of your data being posted there, and how to remove your email from the dark web. We will also cover how to prevent this happening, and what to do if it does.
What Is The Dark Web?
Information hosted on the internet, but which cannot be accessed without specialised software like the Tor Browser. While much of the dark web is benign, there are large sections of it that are devoted to more unsavoury interests and illegal activities. This includes online marketplaces for hacking tools and leaked data.
What Information Gets Posted On The Dark Web?
Any information can end up on the dark web, but the data that cybercriminal are most interested in are…
- Contact details (address, phone number, email addresses)
- Bank account information
- Username and password combinations
- Health information
- Insurance details
- Passport details
What Happens When Your Information Is On The Dark Web?
Criminals can use personal information to steal your identity. They could then apply for loans or mobile contracts under your name. If one of your passwords has been leaked, hackers will try using that password on every service they can think of in case you have reused it. This is another excellent reason to have a robust password policy in your organisation.
Not every hacker on the dark web has a financial motive. Some are simply looking to cause chaos.
Why Is It A Risk For My Business’s Data To Be On The Dark Web?
Having your data on the dark web increases your risk of suffering another cyber attack. Hackers looking for potential targets will be more likely to try hacking a business if they already have some of their passwords from a previous data breach.
The very fact that your information has ended up on the dark web signals to hackers that your cybersecurity was not good enough to prevent a previous attack. You may not even realise that your data was leaked and so may not have updated passwords or improved your cybersecurity since your data was posted online.
How To Keep Your Data Off The Dark Web
Secure Your Network
Your data ending up on the dark web is a symptom of poor data security. Properly securing your networks, your email, and your devices will reduce the chances of data being stolen in the first place.
Much of the data which ends up on the dark web is stolen in ransomware attacks. Investing in ransomware prevention solutions can help to prevent data theft. Through a combination of ransomware protection software and effective firewall management, it is possible to block infected machines’ ability to transmit your data outside of your network.
Use A Password Manager
Using a password manager can help prevent your passwords being leaked. Password managers generate new, extra-strong passwords and store them in an encrypted online vault. This vault is itself secured by a long master password (many people may use an entire sentence). When you use a password manager, you do not need to remember your password. It is harder to accidentally reveal your password if you do not have it memorised.
Partner With A Manager IT Services Provider
At Carden IT Services we offer ransomware protection, firewall management, and password managers as part of our comprehensive cybersecurity package.
How Do I Know If My Information Is On The Dark Web?
Warning signs that your data may be on the dark include; suspicious activity on your email accounts, unexplained charges on your company bank accounts, and customers saying they have received communications from you that you did not send. Even if you are not experiencing any of these warning sighs, it is still worth checking if your data has appeared online.
It is not advisable to load up the Tor browser and go poking around the dark web trying to find your data. Although you could try to explore the dark web yourself in an effort to find data your company, this could actually have more negative effects than positive ones. For instance, regularly using a dark web search engine to look up a your organisation or your CEO’s name might raise suspicion from dark web criminals monitoring those searches and increase the overall security threat to your business.Instead, talk to a managed IT services provider like us. We use specialist software to conduct automated, AI-driven scans of the dark web for mentions of your organization, your email addresses, and any associated data without the security and legal risk of actually accessing the dark we on your own machines.
Can I Remove Sensitive Information From The Dark Web?
Unfortunately, unlike Google, Facebook or YouTube, dark web networks aren’t in the habit of paying attention to take-down notices or legal threats. Removing your data from the dark web can be tricky. If your data has appeared on the dark web already, there’s very little you can do to force a site to take it down. However, you can assess what information is there and take steps to reduce your risk
You should immediately replace all passwords which have been leaked online. Not only should you replace passwords for accounts which have been compromised but you should do this for any other accounts which use those same passwords. It is a bad practice to use the same password for multiple accounts anyway, so now is a good time to overhaul your passwords and start using a password manager.
Need Help Keeping Your Data Off Of The Dark Web?
Hopefully this has been a useful overview of the risk that having your information on the dark web can pose to your business, as well the steps you can take to prevent this happening. If you would like professional help with your data security, our team is here to help. We’ve helped business in the US and the UK to protect their critical-data from falling into the wrong hands. Book a call with us today to learn how we can protect your business’s data.