The dark web can be scary for the average user. Due to the illegal activity, as well as the types of users that make up most of it, the dark web is a dangerous place. To get a better understanding of the dark web, you must know how it differs from the surface web as well as the deep web.
The surface web is what most users are accessing daily. This part of the web is easy to find and contains websites such as Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, and other familiar websites. Users will spend most of their time on this part of the web because it contains most social media platforms as well as entertainment and work-related websites. However, as users dive further into the web, there is a section known as the deep web.
The deep web is a section of the internet that is not indexed, meaning that you can't find it through a search engine such as Google. This content is often private company websites, online banking, webmail, web forms requiring registration, and other publicly restricted websites. The deep web is a little harder to find, but many users still use the deep web regularly. The dark web is where things get interesting.
The dark web is home to a lot of hackers around the world, and it is where they can carry out illegal activities under the cover of anonymity. The dark web essentially allows users to remain somewhat hidden while browsing through these private networks. The majority of activities on the dark web revolves around drug sales, fraud, Bitcoin, counterfeit, and other malicious activity. However, this activity can be useful for cybersecurity professionals for several reasons.
First and foremost, you must think like a hacker to understand how their various attacks occur, 'know thy enemy,' if you will. That is key to defending against cyberattacks. This methodology takes one step further when information security professionals essentially go undercover on the dark web and hear directly from a hacker how they execute their attacks. Information security professionals join hacker forums within the dark web containing hundreds of posts from hackers around the world wanting to flaunt their hacking skills.
While hacking is supposed to keep you hidden, ironically, one of the cybercriminals' greatest downfalls is the desire to be recognized and praised for their accomplishments. Therefore, within these posts, hackers will give a step by step analysis of how they executed an attack or what new attack vectors they are utilizing. Information security professionals can then use this information to further their organization's security and protect them from the attacks discussed in the hacker forums.
Unfortunately, gaining access to these hacker forums can be dangerous and challenging to do. Similar to an undercover detective infiltrating a known crime ring, not only does a user have to put themselves at risk by being on the dark web, but they usually have to gain the respect or trust from the owner of the forum. That is typically done through a referral or by the user showcasing their skills.
Utilizing the dark web as a threat intelligence source can be extremely beneficial for discovering what attacks are trending. The information found within these forums can be valuable to organizations, state and federal governments, and even entire nations. However, it is necessary to take certain precautions to stay safe on the dark web, and only trained security professionals should do this. As time moves on, using the dark web as a threat intelligence source will become more popular, and an increasing amount of businesses and nations will use this to their advantage.