Technically Speaking

The Official Bigstep Blog

What's Valuable, Sensitive, and Floating Around on the Deep, Dangerous, Dark Web? Your Data

It happens all too frequently: a large, well-known organization issues a press release, admitting that [insert horrifying number here] of their customers’, employees’, vendors’, etc. confidential data has been hacked. It happens to government agencies, retailers, financial and credit institutions, and even to tech companies.

The Silence After the Breach

After a major data breach, you don’t hear much about where the data went, what happened to it, or how criminals used the data they got on consumers, vendors, or other parties.

But then you hear no more. Maybe there are some occasional updates to specify exactly what information was stolen, but there’s little to nothing on the news about what happens to the data. Of course, there are dire warnings about what identity theft puts a person through. But unless you personally know someone who’s been through it, you’re likely in the dark about that, too.

As it happens, after a hacker breaks into a database, it most often finds its way to the Dark Web, where it is sold to others who may want to commit identity theft, but simply lack the technical skills or guts to hack into a big, fat database for themselves.

The Deep Web, Dark Web, and Dark Internet Aren’t the Same Things

The public is often confused about what the Dark Web is, how it differs from the Deep Web, and what related terms mean, like the Dark Internet. The Dark Web is actually a small (though bigger than one would like) subset of the Deep Web. The Deep Web isn’t actually a scary place at all. Any page that isn’t indexed by search engines is a part of the Deep Web. That includes the various pages on your online banking website and all the pages your company puts up that are only accessible to your workers via a password. The Deep Web might also be confused with the Dark Internet, which is actually a rather boring place where scientific researchers stash and share all of their data. No, it isn’t interesting, fun data like how far a flea can jump. It’s lots of raw, unprocessed data that would literally bore the paint off your walls.

The Value of Stolen Data on the Dark Web

The Dark Web is a small part of the Deep Web where some really shady deals go down. But you’ll hear the stat that “90% of the Internet is the Dark Web.” Most of this is just un-indexed pages run by legitimate businesses, scientific researchers, and other benign interests. The bad part is actually much smaller than that.

The Dark Web, however, is a sinister place within this uncataloged Deep Web. It is where people do things like buy guns illegally, trade drugs, and yes, sell data that’s been stolen. The more detailed and useful the data, the more it is worth on the black market Dark Web. For instance, a consumer’s data that is detailed enough to gain access to their financial accounts can be worth as much as $1,200. However, their password to stream from their Netflix account is worth less than $10. Some data sells for just $1. It all depends on what’s being sold and what type of gain the buyer can achieve with that particular information.

Often, you’re not safeguarding your systems from the end user of the data; you’re actually warding off the middleman, who is trying to gain access not to steal and use the data, but to steal it and sell it on the Dark Web. In many cases, even if the original hacker uses the data, they sell some or all of it to others on the Dark Web. That’s why the same person can be targeted for identity theft multiple times, and also why there is no honor among thieves.

In this era of the Dark Web, the double-crossing hacker, and a host of data sets being targeted by cybercriminals, you may decide it’s better to turn your data over to a cloud service provider that can provide better protection than you can. Find out what other satisfied customers had to say when you read our customer stories.

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