Dark Web Monitoring – Revealing Exposure and Safeguarding Law Firms

December 21, 2021 in Afinety Cloud Platform, Security

By: Anthony Lansing

The “dark web” refers to a small subset of the Internet that is intentionally hidden, built to keep the activity of its users anonymous and private.  You cannot access dark web sites through conventional browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox, and search engines cannot discover or index their pages.  Even with the right tools to access the dark web, you wouldn’t be able to go far considering most sites are restricted to invite-only to shield its users and activities from law enforcement and government agencies.

How The Dark Web Works

The dark web exists to preserve the anonymity of its users, requiring specific software and configurations that allow individuals and organizations to communicate and make transactions without revealing identifying information or leaving a trace.

Dark web sites can only be accessed through specific networks, such as Tor, that routes page requests through encrypted proxy servers to make the user unidentifiable and untraceable.  Transactions on the dark web are made with cryptocurrency, which makes buying and selling less traceable than other forms of currency.

With its focus on keeping users completely anonymous and untraceable, it’s no surprise that a large portion of the dark web exists to conduct illegal activities.  It should be noted that not all activities on the dark web are illegal – there are communities using the dark web for innocent social purposes, and it is used as a tool for activists to elude oppressive governments.

How the Dark Web Affects Your Law Firm

Cybercriminals must get their tools and data to launch attacks from somewhere, much like a terrorist organization must source their physical weaponry to launch attacks.  Tools for perpetrating cyberattacks are bought and sold on dark web markets.  These tools come in the form of software exploits, espionage technologies, and other programs that enable criminals to carry out their attacks.

Personal and sensitive organizational information are also valuable items being bought and sold on the dark web.  Stolen log in credentials can be bought to help launch an attack such as ransomware.  Bank information can be bought to steal from and defraud organizations.  Sensitive information and stolen documents can be bought to carry out leaks or used as leverage against an individual or organization.

What is Dark Web Monitoring and How Does it Work?

Dark web monitoring allows law firms and other businesses to assess the exposure of sensitive information by accessing unindexed websites, chat rooms, and networks otherwise only available to those with private credentials and the use of specialized browsers like Tor.  If someone manages to steal your company’s confidential information, they might try to sell it on the dark web to someone who intends to use it to commit fraud or carry out a targeted cyberattack.

Dark web monitoring services scan these otherwise inaccessible sites to look for personal information that cybercriminals can use to steal your identity, break into your computer network, and tarnish your company’s reputation. A comprehensive dark web monitoring solution uses advanced tools to gather, review, and analyze dark web data and typically offers the following:

  • 24/7 active monitoring
  • Immediate notification if a problem arises
  • One-time searches
  • Warning signs that a security incident may have occurred
  • Searches of black-market e-commerce sites, malicious sites, and peer-to-peer networks
  • Personal email address scanning
  • Visibility into external threats – the type and amount of data collected and their security measures
  • A means to identify whether propriety information is for sale
  • A risk matrix to help evaluate risk severity

Enable Dark Web Monitoring

Dark web monitoring provides an accurate picture of an entity’s exposed information, which ultimately offers actionable intelligence and valuable insights from the perspective of the criminals who profit by buying and selling your law firms’s sensitive information on the dark web. Speak with your cloud hosting provider or IT team to learn more about how you can implement dark web monitoring to safeguard your law firm.

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