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Dark Web Monitoring vs Data Breach Monitoring: what's the big difference?
Forewarned is forearmed
With cyber-attacks on the rise, this motto is particularly true when it comes to early data breach detection. But which approach is the best way forward, is it dark web monitoring – a common way of being alerted to whether your company’s data is being sold on the dark web – or is it data breach monitoring, which alerts you the moment someone attempts to access your database with malicious intent? Luckily, we happen to know a thing or two about it at KYND and will share the merits and differences of both in this blog.
What is a data breach and is it even really a threat?
Data breaches are unauthorised access to your business’ devices, networks or databases, such as an email list of your clients. They’re usually carried out with the intention of gaining sensitive or confidential data and are becoming much more common. You might think that only large organisations are on cybercriminals’ radar, but absolutely anyone is at risk of a data breach. To learn more about why your business is under the threat of a cyber attack, check out our previous blog.
But how much do we really need to worry about data breaches? In today’s internet-reliant world, data breaches have quickly become a daily occurrence, and no one is immune. Sadly, this isn’t just fear mongering. Open your web browser and Google “latest data breach news.” Within seconds, in the comfort of your home, the headlines will tell you all about yet another company suffering a major data breach, exposing the sensitive information of millions of its users.
A data breach can be completely devastating for a business, due to the hefty regulatory fines imposed by the ICO, of up to £18m or 4% of annual turnover (whichever is higher). These fines are imposed if personally identifiable information (PII) is mishandled or unprotected, and both organisations and customers can suffer the consequences. Aside from these fines, there can also be reputational damage stemming from the loss of clients’ trust if you don’t protect their data. This reputational impact might be detrimental to your business’ ability to attract new customers. Data breaches also mean that operations may be heavily disrupted while your business attempts to contain the breach, conduct a thorough investigation, and continue its business-as-usual despite potentially missing data.
Dark web monitoring – is it the solution?
Seeking effective ways to spot data breaches early on, and hence protect their valuable information, financial bottom line, and brand image, companies nowadays are increasingly investing in dark web monitoring tools.
You’ve probably heard the term “Dark Web Monitoring” before, and it’s become a pretty common buzzword. Your connections may even have shared the news that they’ve just brought “a top-notch dark web monitoring technology” into their stack. But what is it exactly, and is it enough to help you and your business be better prepared in the event of a data breach?
Dark web monitoring involves monitoring your organisation’s data presence on the dark web. The dark web refers to websites and content that are hidden from search engines and require an anonymising browser or specialised software to access. Because of the level of anonymity inherent in using the dark web, it's typically where cybercriminals go if they want to sell your information.
Dark web monitoring services will alert you if information about your organisation or employees shows up on the dark web. This means you’ll be able to take steps to prevent or stop any type of fraud by either changing the leaked details or adding extra security measures to the affected accounts.
Dark web flaws
It will come as no surprise that many data breaches remain undiscovered for weeks, months, and even years…
Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Years. Considering the most high-profile data breaches of the last decade, you might be stunned by how long it took for the organisations involved to realise they’d been victim to a data breach. For instance, in one of the biggest data breaches in 2018, which affected 500 million Marriott customers, the threat actors remained undetected for four years. Nine years ago, the notorious Yahoo data breach affected a whopping 3 billion user accounts and went undiscovered for over 2 years.
These infamous incidents, amongst many others of a similar nature, have opened people’s eyes to the reality of two things: the potential severity of cyber-attacks, and the real importance of rapid data breach detection in the face of stringent regulatory expectations. This, in turn, has raised immediate concerns in the corporate world: if it happens to my business, how can I quickly detect a possible data leakage before it causes widespread harm?
Dark web monitoring may seem like a reliable go-to solution if your business falls victim to a data breach. But for every rule, there is an exception. If your business has suffered a data breach - it means that your data has already been compromised, and you may not realise it for a long time. Not every data breach ends up on the dark web for sale, at least, not immediately, so it’s difficult to determine whether your data has been compromised or not - that is until you receive an alert that it has appeared on the dark web.
As if that wasn’t challenging enough, once acquired by attackers, the ill-gained information gets quickly recycled and redistributed numerous times over extended periods. This means there will potentially be a fair share of false-positive alerts making it difficult to prioritise real indicators of a breach over the everyday chatter noise of the dark web communities.
While dark web monitoring is a great way to find out if your data is being used for nefarious purposes, it's a reactive approach. This means that you'll only be given an alert if it's discovered that your data is being sold or advertised on the dark web, meaning it's already been leaked in a data breach. Moreover, dark web monitoring is not an all-seeing-eye, due to the hidden nature of the dark web, and as such cannot be relied upon for comprehensive coverage of the dark web, or the sole approach to data breach monitoring.
Another way – data breach monitoring
For a more proactive approach to protecting your data, a data breach monitoring service keeps an eye on your data from inside your organisation, making you aware the moment your data is compromised, or if there’s suspicious activity – no more waiting weeks, months, years, and the opportunity for cyber criminals to do untold damage before you’re even aware. Data breach monitoring software helps organisations to record data breaches as soon as they occur, report them to the regulatory authorities, and to notify any customers or clients who may have been impacted. Preventative methods are always better than curative methods, and data breach monitoring alerts can help lessen the impact of a data breach, as well as make you aware of vulnerabilities in your organisations’ cybersecurity protocols.
How KYND can help with data breach monitoring
KYND has recognised that dark web monitoring is a great tool, but could be greatly enhanced if it’s paired with KYND’s Data Breach Monitoring service. To carry out this monitoring, KYND creates a “secret client”. This means that KYND provides you with a fake persona – a full name and an email address – that looks no different from any of your real clients and will easily blend in amongst them. Whether this is in your database, your CRM software, on a mailing list, or a spreadsheet, KYND can monitor your secret clients for activity. If the secret client is contacted, KYND will notify you immediately. If the activity is suspicious, you likely have a data breach on your hands. You also have the option for KYND to monitor the different places you store your data, meaning KYND can help pinpoint exactly where the breach has occurred. This means that instead of reacting to finding your data on the dark web, you can quickly respond to secure your data and mitigate the fallout of a data breach, and be better prepared for future occurrences.
While there’s no perfect safety net against a data breach, having this measure in place can greatly minimise the repercussions. It’s a further step towards securing your data and monitoring your infrastructure. Data breach monitoring should be your first port of call, because although dark web monitoring shouldn’t be discounted as an excellent tool, KYND’s smart data breach monitoring technology will alert you as soon as leaked data is used, enabling you to have a speedy response, as well as maintain transparent lines of communication with your customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about how KYND’s Data Breach Monitoring service can support you in protecting your business and customer data, get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help.