The darknet can be described as the internet black market, home to sites that sell drugs, weapons, leaked security data, and even assassins — and it’s so well-organized, it’s practically the dark cousin of Amazon.
In simple terms, it operates like a ghost. The websites within it coexist with the rest of the internet, but are inaccessible unless you have the software to open a window for you between realms. For example, this is a darknet URL: http://dppmfxaacucguzpc.onion/. If you have Tor — the software designed to grant you access to the darknet — it will lead you to the Tor webpage. If you don’t, it leads absolutely nowhere. On darknet, you’re untraceable and completely anonymous.
Yet it wasn’t always so nefarious. The darknet emerged harmlessly without all the illegal activity when the internet was taking its first fledgling steps, and the software used to access it was in fact created by the US government as a way to secure their communications online. However, in 2004, the public gained access to Tor, and what we know today as the darknet was born.
For businesses, the most dangerous thing isn’t handguns and ecstasy — it’s security breaches, and it can lead to ruin.
How Darknet Has Grown in Recent Years
As the government cracked down on eliminating these illegal sites and their activities within the darknet, and main sellers went under, several alternatives were created to do it safer, more anonymously, and for more money. This created a darknet that is easier and more functional than it’s ever been, and word spread about it to more people in the process. Even the curious, innocent ones found themselves interested to stop by and see what it’s all about.
This has allowed more disgruntled employees to hear word of a place where they can exact their revenge on a business or gain personal profits by partnering with the people needed to bring companies to their knees, or simply offer up highly sensitive information free of charge.
How This Can Affect Businesses
Employees can do damage with no evidence tracing to them, and therefore no punishment, putting businesses at a greater risk than ever. It’s a risk that grows as the darknet itself grows.
Leaked Customer Information
With the insights given by your employee, a hacker will have access to all your customers’ private information, including their name, bank numbers, home addresses, passwords, data saved on flash storage, and even more vital details. Identity theft, physical harm, and potential job loss could lead a customer who trusted you to personal ruin.
Stolen Intellectual Property
As your employee grants a hacker access to your servers, these criminals can then steal your intellectual property, exploiting it or selling it to the highest bidder. This leaves room for less-than-savory rivals or simply malicious individuals to cash in on your hard-earned creations and leave you standing with your hands empty.
A hacker using your employee’s insider access can implant malware and a range of viruses that could bring all your servers to a screeching halt, and since profits can plummet thanks to only a few minutes of downtime on your servers, this could mean collapse. The complete fall of your infrastructure could take months to rebuild along with numerous expenses, and by the time you’re on your feet, your company may be in ruins.
How Can You Prevent This?
Don’t Shy Away From Suspicion
When most companies think of security breaches, they look to their IT department or higher level managers — but studies have shown that darknet insiders come in all shapes and ranks. To keep your business safe, look at all of your employees as potential darknet insiders, and be wary of what permissions you give them to valuable information. Those who you give greater permissions must be watched more closely, and never assume that an unsuspecting intern is unsuspecting. Many insiders lay years in wait or turn to the darknet on impulse. Do not be merciful in your monitoring systems; a healthy dose of suspicion can prevent tragedy.
You Should Hire a Security Firm
Many businesses combat the danger of the darknet by hiring a specialized security firm tasked with monitoring all their employees. These experts will have deep access to your network and keep a very close eye on all on-goings within. They’ll be tasked with watching and recording everything your employees do digitally, and catch those who are siphoning off information, accessing portions of the system unnecessarily, or conducting suspicious activity.