IT security has always been a largely reactive endeavor: Monitor networks and systems in order to detect and respond to any threats that arise. But such an approach is inadequate given the increased speed, scale and costs of today’s evolving threats. According to Microsoft researchers, it can take less than 45 minutes for ransomware to infiltrate and encrypt an entire network — far faster than most organizations can mount an effective response.
Federal cybersecurity agencies, law enforcement officials and global security analysts agree that organizations need a more proactive approach with a focus on anticipating problems and taking action before attacks occur. In a recent speech, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said proactive cybersecurity is critical for protecting national and economic security against adversaries who have the ability to carry out attacks “with a keystroke” from anywhere in the world.
Dark web monitoring is a central element of a proactive security posture. Using a combination of human and artificial intelligence, monitoring services continuously search the deepest corners of the Internet to determine if leaked or stolen information such as company data, compromised credentials, financial information or intellectual property is being traded and sold among cybercriminals operating out of illicit marketplaces.
Understand Your Risk
What makes this type of intelligence so valuable is that it is specific to your company. While other threat intelligence services provide valuable indicators and clues about the types of information threat actors have gotten their hands on and what they might be planning to do with it, Dark web monitoring reveals exactly where and how you are vulnerable. There’s no guesswork about whether there are any other security measures you might want to take — if your company’s data is spotted, you can be pretty darn sure that an attack is imminent.
That’s an extremely powerful early warning system. Real-time awareness of a compromise gives you an opportunity to take preventive measures before malicious actors have an opportunity to strike. For example, you can implement organization-wide credential changes, rendering stolen passwords, usernames and PINs useless, and you can close any compromised banking or credit card accounts before they can be accessed.
Knowing what data has been stolen will also provide important clues about where and how it was compromised. That gives you an opportunity to shore up deficiencies that you may not have known about. For example, closer inspection might help you identify a malicious insider who is leaking data, a database that needs to be patched or an antivirus solution that isn’t up to date.
Know What to Expect
Beyond addressing imminent threats, dark web monitoring provides valuable intelligence that can be used to mitigate potential future attacks. Dark web communications often reveal insights about the unique tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) used by specific threat actors. If you can learn how attackers gather information and choose their targets, you can make better decisions about mitigation strategies that can break the so-called cyber kill chain.
For example, if attackers tend to use targeted phishing emails to harvest credentials, you can move quickly to deploy content filters and spam blockers that keep such messages from ever hitting your users’ inboxes. Or if you know they like to use privilege escalation techniques to gain deeper network access, you can use automated scanning tools to identify and fix any system misconfigurations.
The criminal activity that occurs on the dark web can pose significant risk to your organization. However, monitoring that activity can provide insights you can use to your advantage. Contact us to learn how to use our dark web monitoring service to create a more proactive security posture.