Here’s how you can understand whether you are a victim of the Dark Web or not
The mystery of this dark digital world remains unclear and misunderstood by many.
If you look deep enough into the internet layers, you will see that the internet houses a shadowy, digital netherworld known as cybercrime. Recently, Cybersecurity Ventures constructed a report which stated:
Cybercrime is projected to cost the world more than $6 trillion annually by 2021.
At the heart of this cybercrime lies the mysterious Dark Web. The mystery of this dark digital world remains unclear and misunderstood by many.
Here’s what we know about the Dark Web:
Where does the Dark Web exist?
The World Wide Web has three distinct layers:
- The first is the Surface Web, where most people do searches using standard browsers.
- The second is the Deep Web, which is not indexed in standard search engines and is accessed by logging in directly to a site; it often requires some form of authentication for access.
- The third is the Dark Web, which is only accessible through specific browsers. Its most common browser, Tor, encrypts all traffic and allows users to remain anonymous.
Cybersecurity Ventures expert explained:
People can gain access to Dark Web sites via an invitation offered only after a substantial vetting process because the purveyors of these sites want to keep out law enforcement. However, several “white hat” hackers (computer security experts) and law enforcement agencies have successfully broken through these sites.
Security professionals first became aware of the Dark Web when massive data breaches, for example, large troves of personal information selling began. Soon identity theft protection services came into being to provide Dark Web monitoring services that examined whether your personal information was being sold.
A tech expert from a monitoring service stated:
It is on these criminal Dark Web sites that all kinds of malware, like ransomware, are bought and sold. Other goods and services purchased, sold, and leased on these Dark Web cybercrime websites include login credentials to bank accounts, personal information stolen through data breaches, skimmers (devices to attack credit card processing equipment and ATMs), and ATM manuals that include default passwords.
Understanding the Cybercrime Tools and the Dark Web
Just like regular retail sites, the Dark Web sites also have ratings and reviews, tech support, software updates, sales and loyalty programs, money laundering services, botnets (short for “robot network”) to deliver malware, and phishing and spear-phishing emails.
A tech expert explained:
Cybercriminal geniuses have developed a lucrative business model. They create sophisticated malware, other cybercrime tools, and delivery systems, then sell or lease those tools to less sophisticated criminals.
He further added:
The proliferation of ransomware attacks provides an excellent example of how this business model operates. Ransomware infects your computer and encrypts all of your data. Once your data has been encrypted, you, the victim of a ransomware attack, are told that a ransom must be paid within a short period of time or your data will be destroyed.
Development of the Dark Web over Time
Ransomware attacks have increased dramatically in the past few years and are now the fastest-growing cybercrime.
Cybersecurity Ventures report states:
Companies are victimized by ransomware every 14 seconds, at a cost of $11.5 billion worldwide. While the creation and development of new ransomware strains require significant knowledge and skill, most ransomware attacks are being perpetrated by less sophisticated cybercriminals who purchase the ransomware on the Dark Web.
Primarily, phishing, and more targeted spear-phishing, were used to deliver malware, such as ransomware and keystroke logging malware used for identity theft purposes. These tools lured victims into clicking links within emails that download malware onto their computer systems.
Now, sophisticated cybercriminals use artificial intelligence to gather personal information from social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other sites to produce spear-phishing emails with high success rates.
How to Protect Yourself from the Dark Web?
Experts at Cybersecurity Ventures believe that the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the Dark Web is:
- Avoid downloading the malware that can lead to your information being stolen or your computer being made a part of a botnet. Never click on any email links regardless of how legitimate the email may appear unless you have confirmed that the email is indeed legitimate.
- You are only as safe as the legitimate institutions that have your information, so don’t rely on security software only because even the best ones are at least a month behind the latest malware strain.
- Use an identity theft protection service to monitor the Dark Web and alert you if your information appears there.
- Connect with websites that offer guidance on what to do if you become a victim of the Dark Web. They help you understand the dark section of the digital universe so that you can save yourself from cybercrimes.
What are your thoughts on this? Please share with us in the comment section below.