Maintaining a strong brand in today’s competitive economy is crucial. Building a strong brand can take years or decades, yet it can be destroyed in an instant. In recent years this has become even more relevant with the increased cybersecurity threats such as data breaches, ransomware attacks, fraud, and account takeover, among others.
Last year clearly demonstrated to the world that even the biggest brands were susceptible to data breaches. From Twitter to the Marriott and Wawa to Cisco and Microsoft, these attacks caused monetary and reputational damage for organizations in almost every industry. Cyberattacks increased as organizations accelerated their digital transformation plans to accommodate remote work. Important assets are now more accessible online than before. At the same time, as the global pandemic moved employees to work from home, brands started to rely more heavily on the use of video conferencing and chat applications. The quick integration of these tools and assets and public exposure of data combined with the weak point of security of these organizations, has been the perfect environment for them to flourish.
Every day we see thousands of mentions of brands related to data breaches, personally identifiable information (PII) and nonpublic personal information (NPI) in the dark web. These threats, which include malware and ransomware created in criminal groups, are on many of the largest and most established global brands. Dark web actors sell personal information, leaked databases, tutorials for hacking and scams, counterfeit items, and other items and goods that can cause long-lasting damage to a brand’s reputation. As a result, organizations today that want to defend their brand in the face of increased cyberattacks must monitor social media and open web sources in addition to the deep and dark web.
Collecting data from the dark web presents a number of challenges. Dark web search engines that exist today do not provide comprehensive and relevant coverage that includes forums, marketplaces and chat applications. Tracking the many new marketplaces that are being opened every day is almost impossible, not to mention the new chat groups and channels on different chat applications. (Just to put things in perspective, Telegram is a chat application with more than half a billion messages sent out every day). Only continuous and robust dark web monitoring that includes a sophisticated discovery mechanism – combined with manual work – can sort through the massive amount of data and monitor the most relevant sources on a daily basis.
Discovering relevant sources is only the first step, however. After identifying the relevant sources, the right technology is needed to continuously crawl them so that brands receive comprehensive, relevant, and up-to-date coverage of the potential risks to their brand. This is challenging in the dark web, where admins of forums are suspicious of new users and try to block you joining, IPs are blocked, sessions close suddenly, and CAPTCHAs and DDoS protections prevent crawlers from entering. The right dark web monitoring technology, however, has various mechanisms in place to overcome these obstacles. Brands should be aware of these technical challenges and ensure they select technology that can ensure comprehensive and high-quality dark web coverage despite these challenges.
As we head into 2021, we will continue to see more ransomware attacks present a growing threat to organizations and become more malicious. We will also see an increase in cloud-hosting attacks as brands rely more heavily on services like Azure, AWS and Google Drive for data storage. Brands will need to combat these risks by continuously monitoring for compromised business emails or digital assets on the dark web. A holistic approach to risk management and cyber threats detection that includes continuous coverage of the social media, open, deep and dark web can provide early detection and mitigation of these threats with minimal or no financial loss. This will contribute significantly to helping brands maintain a strong brand in the face of these threats.