The World Wide Web has transformed our world completely beyond recognition. From communicating via email, shopping and streaming videos, performing business transactions with clients online and more, the Internet and its associated technologies has given people and businesses so much to greatly benefit from.
There is also a disturbing side known as the Dark Web. This is the darker and mysterious side of the Internet, making it a dangerous and illegal haven for criminal activity, including hackers with the intent of causing cyber crimes, and even malicious attacks to businesses through viruses, trojans, ransomware and malware.
Earlier this month, I attended a networking breakfast event organised by Professional Liverpool. Held at Avenue HQ in Liverpool and hosted by Aabyss Limited, the event featured a talk from Phil McGowan of Datto on what the Dark Web is, and of how it poses a threat to businesses. This also included a live demonstration of a simulated ransomware attack on a virtual system. Working in technology, I was intrigued by the topic as I found it to be mind-blowing, interesting, thought-provoking, and at times disturbing to learn about. I also sensed the other attendees felt similar too!
Phil gave a brief overview of the Dark Web, by describing how it can be used by hackers. Listening carefully, I gleamed several interesting facts about the Dark Web, of which I have included some below.
- With the Dark Web, this has seen the proliferation of ransomware.
- Over an estimated 6 million people use the Dark Web.
- As well as malware and ransomware, illicit services can be purchased for reasons of committing cyber and other crimes.
- No skills are required to be a hacker.
- Cyber attacks through malware and ransomware are rampant and is an increasing cause of downtime for businesses.
- £500 million in ransoms was paid by businesses affected by ransomware in 2018.
- Within the Dark Web, there are hacking companies who are getting more sophisticated with their techniques.
- In the UK, the average cost of downtime for businesses is £7000 per hour.
- Even though more data has moved to the cloud through SaaS (Software as a Service) it is still vulnerable.
From all the above, this paints a terrifying picture of the threats posed to businesses by ransomware. With personal and other sensitive data at risk from many security threats, this is also compounded by the fact that there are no simple solutions or silver bullets, that can easily address all these concerns. This means complex and detailed solutions are needed to minimise and manage risks effectively to maintain business continuity, and keeping services running through disruption. As I mentioned some time ago in a previous post, the responsibility for cyber and data security lies with everyone.
Overall, I was delighted and glad to have attended this event. This is because I appreciated Phil sharing his knowledge of cyber security, and of how ransomware and malware poses a real threat to businesses. With the proliferation of black-market services available on the Dark Web, I can honestly say what I learned was not only educational but has also reinforced my own beliefs, about why everyone must take cyber security seriously. I only hope the other attendees felt the same and to spread the message, as I heard one saying he was going to speak to his company’s IT department about the threat of ransomware.
I would like to thank several people for making this event possible. This includes Phil for giving a superb talk, Kelsey Lee Connors from Professional Liverpool and Andrew Allen, Greg Jones, Troy Midwood and Keith Smith from Aabyss, for putting together this successful and educational event. My thanks also go to Avenue HQ for providing the delicious breakfast of coffee, croissants, fruit and Danish pastries. On a final note, I am delighted that Phil’s talk and demonstration had a strong impact on everyone including myself. My only regret is the event and the topic deserved a bigger audience, but even still it was excellent and worth attending, and one that I have taken so much from.