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Should my financial services business be monitoring the dark web?

Written by Lanware

Tuesday, 20 June, 2023

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Should my financial services business monitor the dark web?

Discover dark web activities that can directly impact your firm and how you can mitigate the risk.

What is the dark web?

The dark web is something which many of us will have heard about, but unless you work in technology or cyber security, it’s unlikely you will understand what it is, and furthermore, the risk it might represent to your business.

In simple terms, the dark web refers to a small part of the internet that is intentionally hidden and inaccessible to conventional search engines such as Google. In order to access it, special software (e.g. a specific browser) and configurations is needed.

Known for its anonymity and privacy features, it is often used by criminals for illicit activities such as the trade in stolen data, goods, drugs or other illegal goods or services. It can however be used for non-illegal activities when users want to communicate securely and anonymously without the risk of being traced.

Why should financial firms care about the dark web?

The dark web poses significant risks to financial firms due to its association with cybercrime. Here are three key illegal activities that occur on the dark web, which can directly impact your business:

  1. Data breaches and identity theft: The dark web is a marketplace for stolen personal information and corporate data. It is estimated that around 15 billion stolen credentials are available for sale on dark web marketplaces.
  2. Cyber-attacks and hacking services: The dark web is a hub for hackers offering their services, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to take down websites.
  3. Malware and exploit sales: Cybercriminals on the dark web develop and sell various types of malicious software which enables others to launch attacks on unsuspecting businesses or individuals.

What is dark web monitoring?

Many businesses now use dark web monitoring tools as a crucial means of safeguarding themselves against cyber threats. Dark web monitoring refers to the practice of monitoring and gathering information from the dark web. This typically involves the use of specialised tools and techniques to scan and search the dark web for specific information, such as stolen credentials, sensitive personal data, financial information, or discussions related to potential cyber threats.

How does it protect my business?

Businesses are continuously seeking to protect their own or their customers’ data. By proactively monitoring the dark web, they can stay informed about potential threats, take necessary actions to mitigate risks and enhance their overall security posture. Monitoring the dark web can help businesses with the following:

  1. Early detection of data breaches: Monitoring tools can scan the dark web for mentions of the company’s name, employee credentials, or customer data and alert the business owner.
  2. Proactive threat intelligence: Gain valuable insights into emerging cyber threats, hacking techniques, and vulnerabilities specific to their industry.
  3. Protecting intellectual property: Identify instances where their intellectual property, such as proprietary software, trade secrets, or copyrighted material, is being illegally shared or sold.
  4. Employee monitoring: Monitor employee activities and detect any instances of insider threats or employees engaging in illicit activities.

How many businesses are using dark web monitoring?

The adoption of dark web monitoring has been rapidly increasing as organisations become more aware of the potential risks posed by the dark web and the value of proactive monitoring. Financial services, due to the sensitive customer data and regulated nature of their business is, one of the biggest adopters of dark web monitoring forming part of their comprehensive security strategies.

In addition, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have further enabled tools to be produced which have the ability to scan and analyse vast amounts of dark web data efficiently.

Can you provide an example of how it might help a business?

Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario where a Hedge financial services company, Hypothetical Capital Management, has implemented dark web monitoring as part of its cybersecurity strategy:

Hypothetical Capital Management manages billions of pounds for its investors and handles sensitive financial information. One day, Hypothetical Capital Management dark web monitoring tool detects a mention of the company’s name saying they have information for sale on the company’s trading strategy and investments, so the tool immediately alerts the firm’s security team. With this information, Hypothetical Capital Management can respond quickly and investigate the incident, determine the extent of the data breach and look to contain it before the problem accelerates.

Is it time for you to consider dark web monitoring?

By using dark web monitoring, financial firms can proactively safeguard their sensitive data, stay informed about emerging threats, protect intellectual property, ensure the overall security of their operations and make sure that they are managing their cyber risks in line with regulations.

If you would like to know if any of your business data is on the dark web, Lanware would be happy to run a trial to see what information assets or threats might exist.

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