On the surface, the Internet is Hawkins, Indiana, a regular place where you go about your daily routine checking emails, paying bills, and posting pictures of what you ate for dinner on social media. However, beneath that Internet you know and love is a darker place where criminals send spam using your email, empty your bank account, and hack your social media accounts. The Dark Web is the Upside Down of the Internet: digital communities where criminals anonymously exchange private and personal content. This sensitive information includes the disclosure and sale of credentials using a blockchain currency (e.g., Bitcoin) to gain access to personal information or get inside the confines of your organization. Far too often though, individuals who have had their credentials compromised and sold on the Dark Web don’t know it until it’s too late.
Digital credentials, such as usernames and passwords, connect you and your employees to critical applications and online services. Unfortunately, criminals know this, which is why digital credentials are among the most valuable assets on the Dark Web. And since 73% of online accounts use replicated passwords, it’s easier for these criminals to access the various online services and applications you use regularly. If your employees’ credentials end up on the Dark Web, criminals will eventually gain access to some of your most critical business assets.
A hacker can obtain your information with little effort, typically through phishing, web attacks, or social engineering. If a hacker is successful, they can do severe damage to your users, your organization, and your reputation in the marketplace. With compromised credentials, a hacker can:
- Send spam emails
- Install malware on compromised systems
- Compromise other accounts using the same credentials
- Exfiltrate sensitive data (i.e., data breach)
- Steal your identity
With such massive security breaches as Colonial Pipeline, JBS, and Kaseya, billions of email addresses and passwords have already been compromised, and are actively being traded on the Dark Web. To prevent a hacker from doing significant damage to you or your company, it is extremely important to be proactive. As technology evolves, so do methods for exploiting it. Without taking preventative measures, it’s just a matter of time before a cybercriminal breaches your organization and liberates your sensitive data across the borders of your firewalls to the evils that lurk patiently in the Upside Down of the Internet.