MCP Insights

Why Public Safety Should Care About the Dark Web

Posted on December 12, 2019 by Mike Beagles

Today, more public safety agencies are taking a serious look at how they can mitigate the risk of cyberattacks due to the dramatic spike in ransomware attacks on state and local governments. Such attacks often result in hefty ransom demands, with reports of demands as high as $400,000. One of the most well-known ransomware attacks of 2019 impacted 22 municipalities in Texas, with hackers requesting more than two million dollars in ransom payment to unlock the data.

As local government learns more about how to protect, defend and recover from attacks such as these, the methods of attack continue to evolve. In light of increasingly sophisticated threats, it’s imperative that public safety organizations take new approaches when thinking about how to not only protect the reliability of their networks, but also the integrity of their data.

One threat that is becoming increasingly challenging to contain is the sale of digital credentials, such as usernames and passwords, on the Dark Web.

What is the Dark Web?

The Dark Web is made up of digital communities that sit on top of the Internet. Regular browsers cannot access Dark Web websites, which end in .onion, instead of the surface web’s more common .com, .org, or .gov. While there are legitimate purposes for the Dark Web, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of all sites on the Dark Web are used for criminal activities, with the most common of those being the disclosure and sale of digital credentials that are used to log in to sites such as email services, travel sites, banking, social media, etc. Even more unsettling is that even if employees are not accessing these third-party websites while they’re working from the agency’s network, it’s likely they’re using the same credentials to access their workplace’s critical business applications. According to ID Agent’s Statistics Report, 76% of people use the same password for most, if not all websites.

This makes public safety agencies vulnerable to breaches, and exponentially increases the potential damage from a single compromised credential. Many employees even use their work email on third-party websites.

Cyber criminals consider digital credentials among the most valuable assets found on the Dark Web. For instance, 81 percent of hacking-related breaches are a result of either stolen or weak passwords, according to a recent Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Agency?

There are dozens of cybersecurity solutions available, and choosing one is a daunting task. Agencies must think bigger, and broader, than the public safety network and use automated data intelligence techniques to pinpoint vulnerabilities in their defense along with education and recovery planning.

As part of your overall plan we recommend employing a Dark Web monitoring solution that uses both human and sophisticated Dark Web intelligence in combination with search capabilities to identify, analyze and proactively monitor for an organization’s potentially compromised or stolen employee data. The goal is to seek out a Dark Web solution that provides awareness of compromised credentials before breaches occur. Other must-haves include:

  • The use of prevention tactics that monitor for stolen and compromised data in order to respond to a threat immediately to prevent a major breach.
  • Solutions that monitor 24/7/365 in hidden chat rooms, private websites, peer-to-peer networks, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels, social media platforms, black market sites and botnets.
  • Extensive reporting capabilities to track and triage incidents.
  • The ability to predict industry patterns before they become trends, offering the intelligence to keep you and your employees more protected.

MCP offers a comprehensive cybersecurity solution designed specifically for public safety and other mission-critical organizations that helps agencies determine their network, data, and application vulnerabilities. We can help you come up with a complete solution. Contact us today to learn more.



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