You’ve Just Crossed Over into the Deep, Dark Web

You’ve Just Crossed Over into the Deep, Dark Web

It’s the stuff of crime novels and science fiction movies: a virtual world that seems so mysterious and foreboding that one enters only at his or her own risk. Welcome to the dark web, a quadrant of the internet that serves up a motley collection of often boring, but sometimes secretive, sites that contain everything from corporate records to meeting places for illegal drugs and weapons.

The dark web is content you cannot access from a standard web browser. It’s comprised of encrypted data and sites requiring a specialized browser to access, such as the Tor browser. To be sure, it’s important to understand what the term dark web refers to—along with companion spaces, such as the deep web dark internet, or darknet. “These hidden places are not created equal,” pointed out John Davis, chief security officer for the federal sector at Palo Alto Networks and a retired major general for the U.S. Army.


A starting point for understanding the hidden places on the internet is to know what the terms refer to, and what resides at these sites. The common denominator is that a visitor requires specialized software, configurations, or authorizations to visit the deep web, dark web, and darknet. Here’s a look at what’s out there, and what global executives should know about them.

The Deep Web. There’s nothing intrinsically nefarious about this quadrant of the virtual universe. It’s simply a collection of sites and data that extend beyond the reach of conventional search engines, such as Google and Bing. Because these sites, services, and other network locations are not indexed, they’re largely invisible. This includes databases, webmail, forums, and data accessible behind paywalls. Banks, newspapers, and other content publishers use the deep web daily to run their businesses. Scientists, research institutions, and others often store data in the deep web, which is sometimes referred to as the dark internet. But the deep web also contains a place known as the dark web, and that’s where things become more interesting—and murky.

The Dark Web. These sites and peer-to-peer networks comprise content that is not indexed by search engines. They are set up by individuals and organizations looking to control access to information or data. They use a specialized browser (e.g., Tor), which uses encryption and virtual IP addresses. While there’s legitimate use for this browser and the dark web by journalists, law enforcement, whistleblowers, and some others, it is also a tool for operating within a shady netherworld of crime and espionage. Hackers and attackers post and sell data on the dark web—including Social Security numbers, credit-card numbers, and even medical records. In addition, child pornographers, drug dealers, gun dealers, and other not-so-nice types use the dark web to exchange and sell items illegally.

What does all of this mean for your organization?

A growing number of organizations are attempting to peer into the dark web to determine if intellectual property (IP), proprietary customer data, and other content is available that could wind up in the wrong hands. A note of caution. It is unwise to wade into the murk of the dark web without knowledge and experience. It can land a person or a company in a potentially dangerous situation.

“Gaining access to the dark web is not an issue. It’s as simple as installing the Tor Browser Bundle,” Davis said. But making any progress in pinpointing stolen or hacked data—or identifying the thieves—can prove daunting. Cracking the code and obtaining useful information from the dark web is easier said than done. Without passwords and lacking the right connections, it is tough to infiltrate these sites and forums.

What is Dark Web Monitoring?

Dark web monitoring is the practice of using tools, processes and methods of analysis to detect and mitigate threats to an organization on dark web sites. Monitoring for cyber and physical risk on the dark web expands visibility and radically improves access to actionable, advanced threats before events occur in the real world.

Within the dark web, patterns and norms emerge to make it possible to identify unusual behavior and even early indicators of incidents. This creates an opportunity to identify nefarious schemes, uncover perpetrators of crimes, and protect sensitive targets.

Organizations cannot rely on manual processes and analysis to identify and manage external risk effectively. The data that needs to be covered is too vast and risks are too dynamic and complex. Without effective tools and techniques to access the dark web and the threat data associated to your organization, you face a growing blind spot. 

Odin Threat Visibility

Using Actionable Intelligence to make the unknown known.

Protecting data is the first line of defense. Security experts suggest implementing tight controls, using strong authentication, encrypting all critical data, and quickly investigating suspicious activity.

The Odin Threat Visibility monitoring program focuses on internet platforms where people are likely to communicate, and listens for warning signs of violence. We monitor the deep and dark web to detect and respond to threats that can affect the most critical assets of an organization.

Odin Threat Visibility leverages world class monitoring technology and marries it with highly trained threat experts to aggregate actionable intelligence and create a full picture of exposures through:

  • Open-Source – A radar that looks for indicators across public social media conversations.
  • Observation – A recognition of behaviors of concern.

What makes Odin Threat Visibility unique is the experts that stand behind it. It is more than entering a company or person’s name, location, or violence term into a monitoring tool. It is understanding how to frame the inquiry to target the expected exposures, and to recognize how to focus the analysis to reveal likely threats.

Odin Threat Visibility creates customized real-time data gathering that:

  • Gains critical 24/7 visibility & early emerging warnings from social & online interactions.
  • Scrutinizes patterns of conversation in a structured, investigative manner that originate in the digital world.
  • Identifies the target within the seemingly complex social media landscape.
  • Observes specific locations, events, and persons of interest, to see the impacts.
  • Interprets actionable intelligence, linking it to the behaviors, threats, and open-source intelligence, to forecast the likelihood of violence.
  • Engages in-house, US-based expertise to assess all actionable intelligence.
  • Provides timely reach back to your organization by one of our threat intelligence analysts to help protect your people/facilities and provide guidance and support for an appropriate response.
  • Leverages powerful AI and automation to assist with targeted monitoring.
  • Offers access to experts in violence and crisis response management.

Contact us today to learn more about Odin Threat Visibility for your organization.

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