The Internet is a network populated by millions of sites to which we are free to access with a single click. However, the digital space in which we navigate through our traditional browsers, called the surface web, represents only 5% of the totality of the network: it could be considered as the tip of a huge iceberg, whose “submerged” part is made up of the deep web and from the dark web. In this article, we will try to clarify what exactly these two networks are and the concrete risks your company could be exposed to if you choose to access them.
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What Are The Deep Web And Dark Web?
The terms deep web and dark web are not synonymous. These are two different digital territories, which are distinguished from the surface internet because they are not analyzed and indexed by search engines: this makes them impossible to explore through a normal Google query.
The deep web constitutes between 89 and 96 percent of the total Internet, and paradoxically represents the part of the web most used by every digital user: in fact, it includes all those areas of the global network that we access through authentication factors such as username or password. Inboxes, corporate intranets, university networks, and private forums are part of the deep web, as are direct messages on social networks, banking transactions, and recently opened web pages.
The dark web, on the other hand, is to be considered a much smaller subset of the deep web: in fact, it only has tens of thousands of URL addresses that are not indexed and accessible only through specialized browsers.
The reputation of this small portion of the network is certainly not the best: it is often associated with criminal environments, illegal content, and illegal commercial transactions. However, anyone can access the dark web thanks to new technologies such as encryption and Tor: a browser originally developed by the US Department of Defense to allow anonymous and secure communications, made public in 2004. The Tor software which can be downloaded for free guarantees the ” access to pages with domain .onion, that is the addresses that make up the dark web. But not only.
The advantages offered by the dark web (anonymity, privacy, and virtual impossibility of being traced) have facilitated the development of illegal activities such as the black market in weapons and drugs, cybercrime, and in the worst cases even child pornography.
Accessing the dark web is not illegal, but it is possible to run into illegal activities depending on the use made of this network. Furthermore, if you are unable to recognize a potential threat, it is easy to expose yourself to several risks that should not be underestimated.
What Are The Risks Of The Dark Web For Private Users And Companies?
On the dark web, it is easy to get scams or phishing attempts. One of the most frequent scams is called typosquatting: it consists of registering a domain that can be easily confused with another, designing a web page very similar to the one you intend to copy, inviting unaware users to enter their data or bank details, which in this way are stolen. Since .onion domains are a seemingly random sequence of characters, this scam is particularly easy to orchestrate on the dark web.
The dark web guarantees privacy and anonymity, but not the safety of those who surf. You are exposed to malware such as Botnet, Ransomware, or Keylogger, through which cybercriminals can infiltrate your system and steal personal data and information – a risk that a company certainly cannot afford to take.
3. Government Monitoring
It is not uncommon for law enforcement and government organizations to infiltrate the most remote corners of the dark web in order to track down any illegal activities. Simply visiting a dark website could put you in the spotlight of the authorities and lead to your monitoring in other contexts as well.
4. Theft Of Personal And Business Data
On the black market of the dark web, it is easy to find data and information stolen from individuals and companies, used by cybercriminals to blackmail victims of theft, or sold to the highest bidder. Often it is enough to take possession of a single employee password to access critical data, industrial projects, electronic correspondence, and credentials to access corporate networks and servers: consequences of this gravity make browsing the dark web an extremely delicate undertaking.
5. Hacking as a Service (HaaS)
Dark web forums and trading posts are populated by cybercriminals selling their hacking skills and resources. This illicit activity is called Hacking as a Service and constitutes a considerable danger for companies: cybercriminals, after studying the vulnerabilities of a corporate network, create customized viruses and malware to carry out a targeted attack and make them available to anyone who intends to damage a business.
There are many cyber threats coming from the dark web that can affect individuals and companies, which hardly have the skills to detect high-risk situations and defend themselves effectively. Increasing your security standards and relying on those who can manage your company’s cybersecurity is always the best tactic to prevent damage to business productivity