May 23, 2024

The Importance of Monitoring the Dark Web for Threat Intelligence

The Importance of Monitoring the Dark Web for Threat Intelligence

The significance of watching the dark web and data leaks for threat intelligence can't be overstated. If privileged or sensitive data winds up on the internet, it's exposed to access by anyone who's not supposed to have it. The amount of "exposure" that privileged and sensitive data are subjected to can't be measured in gigabytes or even in petabytes. They're not just at risk of being hacked; they're at risk of being accessed or used profitably by any number of criminals or criminal organizations.

Safeguarding digital assets against cyber threats has become an absolute must for today's businesses. To rise to this imperative, development teams are shifting their application security left, which means considering vulnerabilities and threats from the very start of the software development life cycle (SDLC). Yet, even when a strategy is in place, there are challenges to its execution that can introduce risks to an application "stack" and result in a compromised web or mobile app. This chapter looks at some of these challenges. Then it covers penetration testing as a mechanism to uncover and remediate app vulnerabilities.

What Threat Intelligence Is

Threat intelligence encompasses the acts of gathering, interpreting, and responding to data on virtual threats—both established and at an incipient stage. It furnishes organizations with a window into the operative world of virtual malefactors and into the probable next moves of such actors. It is a powerful mechanism for enabling a wide range of defenses against a panorama of cyber malfeasance. Lenting unique insights into the TTPs of cybercriminals, the practice of threat intelligence holds an essential place among the information security activities of today's organizations.

Cyber threats loom large in the hidden corners of the internet. Within the unseen reaches of cyberspace, a world of potential harm and chaos awaits anyone unlucky enough to stumble upon it. Most internet users are probably familiar with The Dark Web from news stories mentioning its name in connection to illicit activities. But beyond that recognition lies an unfortunate reality: underground clubs where cyber malfeasance occurs go by different names, such as the deep web or the Tor network, but they are all parts of the same nefarious landscape.

The secret part of the internet, known as the dark web, isn't just sinister—it's a whole lot bigger than you might guess. It may even be that you're using it right now, and you don't even know it. The dark web is a subset of the deep web, which is any part of the internet not accessed by search engines. But it isn't just the search engines that you can't use to reach the dark web; things like Facebook and other social media platforms don't get you there.

The significance of monitoring the dark web

  1. One way that businesses can find out about data theft is by keeping an eye on the places where stolen data is sold. On the dark web, there is a whole economy built on selling this stuff. It's like a more sinister version of eBay. If you want to sell lots of credit card numbers or people's Social Security numbers, that's where you go.

And not all of these marketplaces are invitation-only. Some of them are accessible to anyone with a Tor browser. So just by going there and looking around, you can find a range of items that have been stolen and are for sale.

  1. Identifying Compromised Devices — is often the most useful for defenders. When threat actors are inside your network or are in the process of moving from one system to another, they very frequently try to establish the level of control that would allow them to "own" certain kinds of devices — e.g., employee computers — for the duration of their presence. And when they do so, they may give the kind of "I'm in, and here's all the PowerPoint evidence you need to prove it!" access back to you, the defender. Hence, you often have an opportunity to find out quite a lot about the attackers from their interactions with their pretend possessions.
  2. Comprehending Fresh Dangers: The dark web serves as the nursery for the latest in exploits and hacking tools. By knowing these developments, you can implement the most up-to-date defensive measures for your business.

Typical Dangers That Loom in the Shadows of the Internet Era

Illicit undertakings on the dark web undertaken by cybercriminals are replete with various dangerous improprieties that ultimately pose significant risks to our organizations. For instance:

  1. One common occurrence that happens all too often is stolen data. Though there are many forms that this type of nefarious activity can take, one of the most common is the data breach—where attackers waltz right into corporate networks and make off with their valuables.
  2. One way in which ransomware is deployed is when a criminal buys a finished malware program that they can then use against the chosen target. This is usually done by a criminal who may not have the skills to create a piece of ransomware on their own (or it might be done by a criminal who just doesn't want to put in the effort). Either way, using a RaaS platform allows a criminal to deploy ransomware even if they're not technically skilled or motivated enough to write a program themselves.
  3. The ability to access the networks of large corporations represents a valuable asset for criminals. This is the case because once a hacker has gotten into a company's system, they can use it to launch various nefarious activities. These activities can include putting ransomware on the company's stored data, stealing all kinds of data (especially valuable is stealing personal and financial data), or simply shutting down everything vital to the company's operation, using the company's system itself to do all of these activities.
  4. Unknown Vulnerabilities: Zero-day exploits are extremely desired on the dark web, where they fetch high prices. They allow hackers to gain access to systems not yet fortified by security patches.

The Effects of Data Breaches

The aftermath of a data breach on a business can be severe. It can result in enormous financial loss, significant damage to an organization's reputation, and even legal trouble. Any business that stores large amounts of personal or otherwise sensitive data is a potential target for a breach that could expose such information. And when that happens, the experts say, there is little a business can do to fully protect itself from the fallout.

  1. There's a lot of danger in stolen financial data. People with ill intent can and will use such figures to carry out unauthorized transactions that often result in sizable monetary losses for the individuals whose money is being spent or for the companies that experience "data holes" after breaches.
  2. Identity Theft: The fraud of using someone else's personal information, such as a social security number or an address, is a disturbing reality of our time. Impersonating another human being certainly wouldn't be a threat if it were done properly. But we live in a society with laws and bureaucracies that take personal information as evidence of who we are and what we can do.
  3. Business Intelligence Gathering: If you share your hard-earned intellectual property and trade secrets, you give business rivals an advantage they didn't work for, allowing them to pass you by and gain market share.
  4. Damage to Reputation: Companies can suffer real harm to their brands and standing. A publicized data breach can lead customers and clients to question the competence and trustworthiness of not just the breached firm but also any other businesses in their industry.

The Operation of Black Hat Hackers

Black hat hackers are individuals who are involved in computer crimes by accessing systems with harmful intent. These cyber criminals work on the dark web and commit many types of activities.

  1. Data Breach Commerce: The most common and lucrative form of cybercrime has become the sale of huge, meticulously aggregated databases of personal and financial information on the "dark web" to the highest bidders. In a year, a handful of criminal gangs with state sponsorship and operating in Eastern Europe and Russia raked in tens of billions of dollars.
  2. Hacking Services Offered: Some online wrongdoers offer to perform certain hacks, like distributed denial-of-service attacks, phishing, or even network breaches.
  3. Offering Malware and Exploits: Hackers sell hacking tools, malware, and exploits to other criminals who use them.
  4. Making Ransomware Attacks Easier: Criminals can now sell the use of their compromised systems to others, who then use the systems to launch ransomware attacks.

Preventive Steps for CompaniesBusinesses need to take proactive steps to guard against dark web threats. They should follow these steps to improve security.

  1. One of the first steps in implementing a threat intelligence program is to establish the program itself. Threat intelligence programs may have just one intelligence analyst or several; the ideal number for your organization is the number you can afford to hire and pay enough to get and retain qualified individuals. There are some commonalities across most effective programs. One is the intelligence "source triage" process. This step consists of deciding which intelligence sources to monitor, which can include, but is not limited to, the open and dark web.
  2. Regularly scanning for data leaks will allow us to follow rule number one of crisis management: "Respond before the crisis reaches the public." Taking steps to ensure that threats to your company's data are detected and neutralized before they reach the point of no return should be a regular part of your CIO's security plan. This is especially true in light of the withering set of House of Representatives reports that highlights just how often this rule was violated at OPM and just how avoidable the incredibly high price of that failure turned out to be.
  3. Stay updated with hacker forums by monitoring them because cybercriminals tend to use these platforms to communicate among themselves and inform the public about newly discovered vulnerabilities.
  4. Enhance the Security Position: Keep security in a strong position by staying up to date with security protocols, fixing vulnerabilities, and using multi-factor authentication to keep unauthorized people out.
  5. Ensure that all employees are up to date on the latest proper cybersecurity procedures, including awareness of periodic changes to policy and what types of malfeasance can likely be addressed or averted when everybody is following the rules. Simple things, such as employees properly locking up their laptops when not in use, can make a big difference.
  6. Conduct Penetration Tests: Consistently carry out probing tests to locate and resolve the security vulnerabilities of your computer systems.
  7. Create an incident response plan. Establish a plan of action that will address a breach if and when it happens, and have lightning-fast clarity on responsibilities and assignments. That way, should your business ever experience a data breach, your organization will have preauthorized guidelines for understanding the event, as well as ways to minimize its impact and ensure a rapid and effective recovery.

The significance of intelligence platforms in combating threatening situations cannot be overemphasized. The need for reliable intelligence to impede and neutralize impending threats cannot be overemphasized. And from a technological standpoint, the intelligence platform is the necessary tool for achieving this goal. In the present day of widely diversified and largely unregulated technology, a reliable platform for the acquisition, analysis, and dissemination of threat intelligence is absolute.

Threat intelligence platforms, known as TIPs, are a necessary element in gathering, understanding, and sharing information about groups that pose cybersecurity threats. These platforms offer a variety of positive outcomes.

  1. Threat Intelligence Platforms (TIPs) and their Data Collection: TIPs collect the data that originates from a diverse range of sources, and make it available via a single platform, to improve situational awareness and understanding.
  2. Automated Threat Analysis: Leading-edge algorithms are employed to closely scrutinize threat data. Their main goal is to pinpoint any patterns that might suggest the presence of a risk. Furthermore, this kind of analysis can only help if it not only identifies the pattern but also alerts the user—be it with pleasant chimes or an in-your-face screen takeover.
  3. Real-Time Alerts: Emerging threats are quickly reported thanks to TIPs. They allow businesses to respond effectively and promptly.
  4. TIPs integrate with the tools you already have, not only sharing information with them but automating some responses as well. A TIP can direct a firewall to block an IP Address seen as a threat or can alert an intrusion detection system to take notice of a certain pattern.


The serious and capricious nature of cyber threats demands that one keeps current and takes the initiative to protect one's organization. It is certainly not enough to just protect one's business by using antivirus software and basic internet security defenses. One must also take some pre-emptive, serious steps to protect your organization from a serious threat similar to what Sony Pictures, RSA Security, and Target recently experienced. Undoubtedly, you have heard about the situation with Sony Pictures where the company alleges that North Korea is responsible for a cyber attack.

If your corporation wishes to improve the safety of its computing systems, it ought to consider increasing the funding for its intelligence on cybersecurity threats. Being smarter than cyber thieves these days is more than just a good idea; it's essential for businesses that conduct most or even all of their operations online. Meanwhile, the art of threat intelligence is getting better—but so is the art of online thievery.