2 Ways The Dark Web Can Hurt Your Organization

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The Dark Web has had an indelible impact on corporate security. As the convergence of physical and digital worlds generate more complex and multifaceted problems, threats now reach into both spheres so that digital events become responsible for real-world threats, and vice versa. Here are two ways the Dark Web can hurt your organization, and two areas that Media Sonar can be used to help safeguard against and investigate risks to your brand.

Data Breaches & Selling Credentials

Data breaches, how they are made possible, and how they are made profitable will intersect with the Dark Web in a number of ways. A data breach occurs when an unauthorized third party gains access to a computer or a network, circumventing any safeguards put up to stop them. This unique digital era crime shows no signs of slowing down and, as organizations find new ways to protect their networks, criminals continue to adopt new methods to gain access to networks and information for malicious purposes.

The financial impact of a single data breach to a corporate network is substantial, with an average $3.86 million cost per breach and an average cost of $148 per stolen record. In cases where there is no theft of data, the goal of the breach might be to deliver a payload which could include malware or ransomware which can be equally costly depending on how long the system is impacted, and if a ransom is paid. The Ponemon Cost of a Data Breach Study indicates that the mean time to identify a data breach was 197 days. The mean time to contain a data breach falls around 69 days. This means hackers often float under the radar of cyber protection, giving them ample time to reach their goals before being discovered. In the case of several major data breaches, as in the case of Target and Lord and Taylor, the data breach was not discovered until after the credit cards were already for sale on the Dark Web. As costly as these breaches can be, many organizations are still only finding out about them after the fact.

First and foremost, data breaches will often originate from users using the Dark Web for communication and education on hacking methods. The Dark Web is a primary enabler for this type of criminal activity.  Ransomware, hacking tutorials and botnet access can all be obtained on the Dark Web. 

Downstream from the breach itself is the exfiltration of credit cards and credentials to sell on Dark Web marketplaces. In the case of the Lord and Taylor breach, those efforts were directed by the operators of the Dark Web site Joker’s Stash. Joker’s Stash operators not only sell credentials and credit cards on their site, but they also coordinate and conduct the breaches directly. In some cases, the hackers perpetrating the theft might use the data for their own malicious purposes, such as exfiltrating more sensitive data from other networks that can be accessed using the same credentials. In most cases, whether or not the data was acted on already, credentials can be found on the Dark Web.

Brand Misuse & Counterfeit Goods

More than 40 million fake watches are made every year. Of the fakes, around 75 percent are Rolexes. Many of those watches find their way to the Dark Web, where they can be purchased at a fraction of the price. Besides watches, there are plenty more fake and counterfeit products available. Selling alongside illegal and controlled substances, buyers can easily locate counterfeit pharmaceuticals, handbags, jewelry, clothing, and accessories. Dark Web markets provide a new venue for trade and quite possibly have helped expand the overall size of the industry. Counterfeit goods might seem relatively harmless compared to the illegal drugs and weapons sold on the Dark Web, but that could not be further from the truth.

Counterfeit goods made up 5 to 7% of world trade in 2013. In the last two decades, the number of counterfeit products worldwide has grown by over 10,000% in the last two decades. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) estimated the global value of all counterfeit goods at $650 billion annually, increasing to $1.77 trillion by 2015. The United States alone was estimated to be losing up to $600 billion each year to counterfeit goods, software piracy and the theft of copyrights and trade secrets. Pharmaceuticals are by far the most profitable sector for counterfeiters, with lost revenues adding up to $217 billion per year. 

Besides the direct financial losses from lost revenue, manufacturer job losses as a result of this activity show that these crimes do not exist in a vacuum. Counterfeiting has a rippling effect on their impacts on brands and results in long-standing damage to brands that is difficult to quantify. The impact fake copies have had on specific product categories

Fraudulent drugs are known to harm or kill millions around the world, thereby damaging the brand names and sales of major pharmaceutical manufacturers are known to harm or kill millions of people around the globe. Counterfeit drugs are often diluted, toxic or falsely labeled so that a person taking them risks having a reaction or may see their illness get worse as they use medicines with no clinical benefits. In 2009, The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that a counterfeit anti-diabetic medication containing six times the normal amount of its active ingredient.

Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are the most profitable sector of illegally copied goods, with lost revenues up to $217 billion per year. Fraudulent drugs are known to harm or kill millions around the world, thereby damaging the brand names and sales of major pharmaceutical manufacturers. 

Media Sonar & Corporate Security

Credit card and credential hack land in the news regularly and these are always associated with damaging losses to brand reputation and revenue. Beyond digital products, Dark Web marketplaces also cater to the sale of what are potentially counterfeit goods. 

Accessing the Dark Web can be fraught with danger without the right safeguards in place and “consumer” tools are insufficient. The Dark Web does provide some level of anonymity, but this does not mean that access is untraceable nor does it mean systems are safe from corruption. Ultimately, without considerable effort, there is always a risk. Media Sonar software, on the other hand, allows investigators to access Dark Web marketplaces with no risk to the person or systems involved. Furthermore, our browser-based software can be used on any device at any time, including mobile devices.

For safeguarding brand reputation and strengthening the security of corporate operations, the current methods and tools fall short in addressing the threat of Dark Web players and markets. Media Sonar software enables corporate security professionals with a suite of tools to expedite their search for intelligence and evidence for criminal activity on the Dark Web.

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