According to research, as many as 60% of all listings on the dark web could cause harm to organisations, posing risks like disruptions to work, data leaks, damage to your brand reputation and IP theft. 60% is a pretty staggering number, so it’s understandable for business owners to want to educate themselves on the dangers the dark web poses to their enterprise.

In today’s article, we’ll help you do just that by taking a closer look at some of the risks modern SMEs face from the dark web, who’s responsible for dark web cybercrime and what steps you can take to better protect your business.


Dark web security issues modern SMEs face

As we’ve gone over in the last few articles we’ve published on our blog, the anonymity of the dark web makes it the ideal breeding ground for illegal activity of all kinds. From drugs to illegal pornography and from firearms to supposed hitman services, the dark web is where the worst sides of humanity come out to play. When it comes to small businesses, there are a few common types of scams and attacks targeting organisations like yours that you should be aware of. 

First off, gift card and credit card fraud are both rampant on the dark web, and stolen information like this can be purchased for as little as just a few dollars on the dark web without any real fear of detection. This means that it’s hugely important that if your customers save their payment details with you in any form, you take the necessary precautions to keep this data safe and that you mandate a strong password policy for everyone using your site.

You should also be aware of the fact that targeted hacking attacks (HaaS – or hacking as a service) can be purchased through the dark web easily and without parting with much money – more on this later. A hack like this could be done in order to steal data from your business about you or your customers, install malware on your computers or simply to wreak havoc on your organisation. An attack like this could render you unable to carry out your work as normal and have a truly catastrophic impact on your public image.


Who can target my business using the dark web?

Anyone can target your business using the dark web. While the popular stereotype of a hacker is a computer whizz working with a wall of complex code, the more common image is much less dramatic. With hacking software like Nuke designed for targeting businesses and easily available all over the dark web, anyone can become a hacker – all you need is a laptop. 

The dark web offers plenty of hacking how-to manuals as well as entry-level hacking tools like ready-made phishing sites and software designed to take over your desktop, compromise a Wifi network, passwords and more. These can be purchased on the dark web for the price of your Starbucks order. Scarier still, even the more comprehensive hacking toolkits cost only around £100 on the dark web. This means cybercrime with potentially devastating effects on your business has never been more accessible.


What kind of businesses are targeted?

Organisations of all kinds can find themselves on the receiving end of cybercrime originating from the dark web, but those in that deal with finance, e-commerce, media, healthcare and education are among the most widely targeted industries, with hacking toolkits advertised on the dark web specifically for targeting these industries. 

However, organisations of all kinds and all sizes should be aware of the risks posed on them by the dark web and consider what safety measures they need to take up in order to protect themselves effectively.


What can I do to safeguard my business and clients?

As with all cybersecurity threats, one of the simplest and most cost-effective antidotes is a wall of informed, computer-savvy employees who know the best practices for keeping hackers out. You should make sure to have a strong password policy in place, download security patches regularly and limit what your employees can and can’t do on their work computers. 

For example, you could consider prohibiting the downloading and use of dark web browsers like Tor and I2P at work. You could also use software to block Tor if you’re worried. Additionally, limiting access to sensitive data is an effective way to protect your business, so make sure only those who absolutely need access to sensitive files and records have it.

Perhaps the scariest part of all this is that if your organisation were to fall prey to cybercrime originating from the dark web, chances are you wouldn’t even know this. That’s why preparation is key when it comes to avoiding dark web cybercrime. 

For more information on more advanced practices for safeguarding your business against dark web cybercrime, tune in for our next blog on this topic. We’ll be covering things like dark web monitoring services in detail to make sure you have everything you need to keep your business safe.