The dark web has been around almost since the beginning of the Internet. While it has of course evolved significantly over the years, one of the most interesting aspects of it in recent years is the growing awareness of its existence by the average person.
Not so long ago, a normal Internet user believed that they can get to everything on the Internet by simply using Google. This left the dark net a secret that was used only by a small segment of the population who had the expertise to discover it. Today, however, the dark web is commonly referenced in popular television shows, movies, and even the news.
While most people still do not have a good understanding of what the dark web really is, just about everyone is aware of its existence. Few people would be surprised to learn that the dark web is the source of many of today’s most serious digital threats (to individuals, companies, and even governments) as well as the inspiration for serious advancement within the cybersecurity sector.
Growing Threats from the Dark Web
As you may be aware, you can buy and sell just about anything on the dark web, including both digital products and physical items. This includes digital items like credit card information and physical products like drugs or guns. Understanding the specific threats can help you to avoid becoming a victim.
Malware (and other types of viruses) are certainly nothing new, but the hackers on the dark web are constantly innovating. They are always working on new and insidious types of malware as well as different ways to infect your electronic equipment. This type of threat is a major concern for individuals as well corporations. Some specific things that need to be watched out for include the following:
- Ransomware – Hackers will lock all of your files and delete them unless you pay them a set amount of money, typically in Bitcoin, Monero, or other cryptocurrencies.
- Hijacking Cameras & Other Devices – Bad actors can often gain access to the camera on your laptop or other device and use it to gather compromising pictures, videos, or other information. This can then be sold on the dark web or used to blackmail you.
- Stealing Data – Stealing account login information, credit card details, bank information, and all sorts of other things is among the most common use of malware and other viruses.
Stolen Financial Accounts
The primary goal for just about every bad actor online is to make money. The most obvious way that this is done is by taking credit card data, PayPal login information, cryptocurrency exchange login information, and other related details from your PC or phone. Once a computer is infected, they can often log all your keystrokes to gain things like credit card numbers with CVV.
Remote Crypto Mining
For many years, one of the most common threats from the dark web was that they would infect your computer so they could use it to perform various tasks, such as engaging in a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS). While that is still extremely popular, and a very real threat, hackers are now making the computers they control do something else entirely.
Once a hacker is able to control your computer, they will have it begin mining cryptocurrency using the processing power of your CPU and/or GPU. This will cause your computer to perform poorly since a lot of the resources are being taken up by the mining. It can also cost you quite a bit of money in electricity, and worst of all, cause your hardware to go bad more quickly since it is constantly being used at 100% capacity.
How Cyber Security Experts are Fighting Back
It is clear that the bad actors who congregate on the dark web are constantly working on new and innovative ways to accomplish their goals. On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, there are many ethical professionals who are constantly trying to stop them. Cybersecurity experts are working hard to identify the latest threats from the dark web, and combat the successfully. In some cases, they are even able to identify and stop specific threats before they are ever able to find a single victim.
Infiltrating the Dark Web
One of the many ways that today’s cybersecurity experts fight back against threats from the dark net is by spending time there. By participating in various dark web activities, they are able to identify what types of things hackers and others are working on so that they can develop countermeasures. In addition, when a new virus or malware is released, they will be able to access it immediately so they can start working on ways to top it.
Sharing Information with Impacted Companies
When a major data breach occurs, you can be confident that the personal information (including account numbers and other valuable things) will be sold on the dark web. If a cybersecurity professional discovers a new cache of this type of data being sold, they will reach out to the impacted companies to help them get ahead of the issue.
For example, if someone began selling thousands of valid credit card numbers with CVV data, the security expert would notify Visa, MasterCard, and the other major companies. This will allow these companies to put a block on the impacted cards and issue new ones, which will help save them money and keep the customers from experiencing losses.
Updating Antivirus Definitions
Antivirus companies are constantly scouring the dark web looking for the latest iterations of viruses and malware. As soon as they find something new, they update their software to detect it and eliminate it. The speed at which top antivirus companies are able to update their virus definitions to protect their customers is impressive, and only made possible by the fact that ethical cybersecurity experts are spending time on the dark web to discover the next big threat.
The Never-Ending Dark Web Battle
The dark web is never going to go away. In fact, it is only going to get bigger and become an even greater threat as more and more people discover it and attempt to use what they find to their advantage. This is why there is also an ever-growing need for ethical computer enthusiasts to enter the dark web to help fight this advanced threat. Whether it is being done within a cybersecurity career, or just as a hobby, there is no doubt that pushing back against the bad actors on the dark web is essential for improving digital security today and long into the future.