What Is Dark Web Monitoring?
Dark web monitoring is the scanning of the dark web for employee credentials and confidential company information.
Dark web monitoring tools work in a similar way to a normal search engine but are custom-built to scour the deepest parts of the dark web. Using these tools, it is possible to find leaked data such as stolen login credentials, intellectual property, and other forms of sensitive data that are being shared or sold by cybercriminals.
Dark web monitoring is more effective than broader identity theft monitoring tools which are designed to protect individuals rather than organisations.
How Does Dark Web Monitoring Work?
Dark web monitoring scans the dark web, compiling up-to-date intelligence. This involves analysing millions of websites to search for email addresses of an organisation’s employees or mentions of the company name. If such information is discovered, then an alert will be created to inform relevant parties of the leak.
Some of the core functions of dark web monitoring include:
- The gathering and processing of threat intelligence to identify a leak
- Enabling threat hunting to learn more about how threat actors operate
- Rapid incident response to quickly mitigate any threat that has been detected
- Integration with other security platforms to develop a broader overview of the threat
How Is Data Leaked To the Dark Web?
Much of the sensitive information and credentials that are stolen by cybercriminals are sold to third parties, often on the dark web. The methods used to obtain this information vary, with new techniques being developed around the clock.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated with their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) helping them evade some antivirus and anti-malware software. Indigo Books was one of the latest high-profile companies to be a victim of such an incident.
Common methods used by threat actors are:
- Malware – Malicious software (malware) can be covertly installed on a device to access and export sensitive data. This software is generally installed using a remote access trojan or loader program. A large network of infected systems is known as a botnet, allowing cybercriminals to steal data en masse and perform a range of illegal activities.
- Phishing – Phishing is the act of sending emails or SMS texts (known as Smishing) that are designed to appear as if they have come from a legitimate source, in an attempt to fool the recipient into clicking a link. If successful, malware can be downloaded onto the victim’s device, or they can be redirected to a spoofed website.
- Keylogging and Screen Scraping – Keystroke logging software records what is typed on a device, allowing cybercriminals to monitor activity. Meanwhile, screen scraping software takes screenshots of an infected machine, collecting vast amounts of information
- Hacking – Capable hackers can exploit insecure networks, system weaknesses, and vulnerable components of a network — for example, an application that has not been updated to the latest version.
Many organisations that rely on cloud hosting are at significant risk without the necessary protections in place. Improving cloud security is an important aspect of any cybersecurity plan, as criminals actively target cloud environments because they are often misconfigured or have inadequate security protocols in place.
Commonly targeted industries such as healthcare are also shifting to a cloud environment, with a large number of physical locations and users requiring complex management. This adoption of cloud technology is expected to grow further, with total cloud spending nearing $500 billion last year and continuing to grow in 2023.
The Risks of Data Being Leaked on the Dark Web
The consequences of a business’s data being sold on the dark web can be extremely damaging. For a consumer, responding to a breach and preventing fraud could just be a case of changing the passwords they use online. For organisations, things are much more complicated.
Personal customer data — such as usernames,passwords, and debit or credit card information — are prized commodities on the dark web. A recent report found that 86% of all payment card chargebacks are fraudulent. Cybercriminals will secure access to leaked credit card information on the dark web, and then make purchases using those cards. Then the genuine owners of the cards will claim the transactions as chargebacks because they don’t recognise the purchases.
Hopefully, you can detect fraudulent activity first and inform your customers. Customers need to be informed of any breach which could cause lasting damage to a business’s reputation, possibly losing the trust of long-standing clients who may take their business elsewhere. Legal action will need to be taken, regulatory penalties may be imposed, and external audits may be required to assess security.
Furthermore, if company credentials are available on the dark web, this may be just the first of numerous attacks on an organisation.
The Key Benefits of Dark Web Monitoring
Dark web monitoring offers more than just a way to check for leaked credentials or data; it can also monitor any activity or discussion that involves an organisation. This could involve posts and updates that state the business is currently the target of a cyber attack or if it has already been subject to a breach. Monitoring can also extend to the supply chain or partners of a business that may be vulnerable to a cyber attack.
Dark web monitoring also fits into an overall cybersecurity strategy, analysing any risks related to an unknown source and cross-referencing it with other threat intelligence for faster mitigation. This can help to identify risks such as third-party breaches, data dumps on hacking forums, domain spoofing, brand impersonations or misuse, leaks (accidental or otherwise), and a wide range of other threats.
Simply put, dark web monitoring is crucial to assessing all channels where your company data could be leaked and misused, mitigating any exposure, and preventing future leaks.
How Arctic Wolf Can Help
The dark web can pose a significant threat to companies that have suffered a data breach, especially if they are unaware of the breach. This is why many businesses are including dark web monitoring as part of their overall cybersecurity strategy, which can be easily integrated with other security platforms for a complete overview. By doing so, a data breach can be mitigated quickly, or a planned attack can be thwarted.
Arctic Wolf Managed Security Awareness® provide the tools and expertise to develop the behaviors organisations need from their employees for better protection and stronger resilience – including regular scanning for employee credentials on the dark and grey web, alongside always fresh, fully managed microlearning content that prepares your employees to recognise and neutralise social engineering attacks and human error—helping to end cyber risk at your organisation.