WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – When security measures at Yahoo and several other large high tech firms were breached in 2014, thieves hacked into millions of personal accounts, and now there are reports that one of the hackers is offering to sell some of that sensitive information to the highest bidder through what is called the “dark web”.
Cyber experts call it the dark web because it is hard to see or track activity taking place in this portion of the Internet, but that anonymity can cut both ways: a cyber predator can also become cyber prey.
“The dark web really is used for elicit activity, they want to stay anonymous,” said Aaron Fox, CEO for Global Quest Solutions of Williamsville, which sets up businesses with their own customized IT security.
Cybersecurity experts compare the dark net and the “surface net” like an iceberg—the surface net is the Internet most of us use to surf and do business, while the dark net is the part of the iceberg underwater that we don’t see, which can do much damage.
Fox says the dark net is dominated by hackers and criminals–like a cyber black market, “Anything that is stolen–any kind of stolen property or elicit materials that are being bought and sold–this is a good place for it. So it could be pharmaceuticals, it could be data, it could be all sorts of things.”
The hackers buying, selling, and trading in the dark web also have their own virtual currency, such as Bitcoin, and everything has a price.
“You can buy 100’s of thousands of credit card numbers, for example, at cents on the dollar, and it is done in a volume game, and the buyer then takes that information and uses it to their own benefit.”
But Fox says, diving into the dark web is no mystery. You can get in there through specific software that is readily available on the Internet.
“So I would assume that anybody who is trying to even attempt to download that software is probably being tracked someplace by some sort of law enforcement, at this point.”
There are ways, however, that you can protect yourself from the denizens of the dark web, said Fox. Make sure you have dependable anti-virus software that is up to date. Avoid websites that are unfamiliar to you, and never click on an email attachment you are not absolutely sure is legitimate.