Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their attack techniques, as evidenced by the worsening cyber threat landscape. Organizations are increasingly falling victim to cybercriminals, resulting in the loss of intellectual property (IP) and finances. Typically, the data and information stolen from organizations end up on the dark web, which is why more and more organizations are adding dark web monitoring as part of their cybersecurity strategy.
This post will shed light on how dark web monitoring, when managed by an external cybersecurity provider like ZeroFox, can protect your assets and intellectual property from would-be attackers.
What is the Best Way to Protect Intellectual Property
There’s no denying that digital technologies have streamlined digital processes. However, as more businesses adopt digital innovations and initiatives that help them grow, they expand their attack surface, making their sensitive information, such as IP, vulnerable to cyber threats.
One specific location where threat actors sell your confidential information after stealing it is the dark web. Attack surface management and dark web monitoring can help safeguard sensitive information within an organization to prevent it from winding up in the deep or dark web.
What to Do When Intellectual Property is at Risk
In many cases, your business’s intellectual property may be your most critical tool to gain an edge over other competitors in your space. Intellectual property isn’t just about the right to obtain a monopoly and prevent other people from using your design, brand, or patented invention; it’s also a way of building innovation. As such, it carries both rewards and risks.
One obvious risk that intellectual property faces is cybercriminals who are always looking to steal sensitive information, such as IP, and sell it to the highest bidder on the dark web. They steal intellectual property in a range of ways, including:
- Creating ads that direct users to Deep Web sites
- Domain spoofing, or creating websites that are close matches meant to fool visitors
- Creating Mobile applications that redirect users to Deep Web sites
- Sending phishing emails to send users to Deep Web sites
That said, threat actors target different types of intellectual property. Here’s a look at the different types of intellectual property that malicious actors often target:
A trade secret is an intellectual property right to information that can be licensed or sold. If your trade secrets are leaked on the dark web, your competitors may use this information to gain a competitive edge.
A patent is an exclusive right granted for innovations, which could be a process or product that provides a new way of doing something. Leaks of patents on the dark web could result in other people or entities using or misusing your innovation without your consent.
Trademarks are signs that distinguish the products and services of one entity from those of others. When your trademark leaks on the dark web, threat actors may sell it to other entities, who could misuse it, tarnishing the reputation of your business.
A copyright is an intellectual property that protects original works of authorship. Just like with the other types of intellectual property, when copyright leaks on the dark web, threat actors could sell it to third parties. They could also ask you to pay ransom in exchange for not leaking or selling your copyright.
Dark web monitoring tools can help you find stolen or leaked information, such as intellectual property, shared or sold by threat actors operating on the dark web. They alert you when your intellectual property and other sensitive data appear on the dark web, allowing you to mitigate the threat before further damage is caused.
As a best practice, some of the measures you can take to protect your intellectual property include:
- Documenting your concepts and original content in detail
- Investing in a good attorney to help you discover, document, and register your IP, trademarks, trade secrets, and creative works
- Using a password manager for all sensitive files and websites
- Avoiding the use of public WiFi networks on computers that contain intellectual property
- Setting up multi-factor authentication
What is Dark Web Monitoring
Dark web monitoring refers to the process of searching for and tracking your organization’s data and information on the dark web. It leverages tools such as threat intelligence and threat hunting to go beyond accessible marketplaces and websites, infiltrating private forums, social web, deep web, and dark web to extract raw intelligence in real time. While you can’t remove your information from the dark web upon its discovery through dark web monitoring, you can take steps to prevent anyone from leaking it.
Remember, leaked data/information can cause reputational and financial damage to an organization. So, dark web monitoring is a suitable solution for preventing or reducing the damage from these attacks or data leaks. This is because it reduces the time between breach and detection, gives threat actors less time to use your information, and prepares you for future breaches.
Choosing Dark Web Monitoring Tools
With there being numerous dark web monitoring tools, it can be challenging to choose the right one. Here are some of the factors to consider when selecting a dark web monitoring tool:
Ease of Use
A dark web monitoring tool should be easy to use. You want a tool that you can navigate easily to determine whether any of your information is on the dark web. It should give you comprehensive visibility into the dark web without having to venture into it. The tool should also be able to flag all the keywords relevant to your organization. This way, you can monitor threats as they evolve, ensuring you can respond appropriately.
Real-Time Alerting Capabilities
Every second counts when it comes to preventing your data from being stolen or leaked by malicious actors. Failing to take appropriate measures quickly could result in your sensitive information getting stolen, consequently resulting in your organization incurring substantial financial losses and its reputation getting damaged.
As such, it’s vital that your dark web monitoring tool be able to offer your real-time alerts 24/7 when it discovers your confidential information, such as intellectual property, on the dark web. With a dark web monitoring solution that has real-time alerting capabilities, you will be able to prevent threat actors from leaking or selling your information on the dark web.
The Search Capabilities
The dark web is expensive. As such, you want a tool that can search and analyze all areas of the dark web and not just a few marketplaces. An ideal dark web monitoring tool should be able to go beyond accessible websites and marketplaces. They should be able to infiltrate the social web, private forums, the deep web, and the dark web to see whether your organization’s information exists on the dark web and alert you immediately.
A dark web monitoring tool with limited search capability may fail to find threats on the dark web, especially in the marketplaces it doesn’t search.
Dark web monitoring Features
The features of your dark web monitoring tool will determine its effectiveness in finding and analyzing threats. A good dark web monitoring tool should have the following features:
- Threat intelligence: It should have threat intelligence capabilities for monitoring, identifying, and profiling threats from dark web sources.
- Threat hunting: it should be able to down compromised credentials and other confidential information and alert you of the threat.
- Integration into security platforms: it should be integrable with security, so the data collected can be forwarded to other systems to create more accurate insights on the nature and degree of the threat.
Besides the above features, it should also be able to search darknet search engines, monitor OSINT websites, and provide social media insights.
Ability to Use Both AI and Human Intelligence to Find and Analyze Threat
Most dark web monitoring tools leverage AI technologies such as Machine Language (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to find and analyze threats as well as gather cyber threat intelligence on malicious threat actors lurking on the dark web.
And while there’s no denying the effectiveness of AI in dark web monitoring, a good dark web monitoring tool should use both AI and human intelligence. By combining AI and human intelligence, dark web operatives integrated into different dark web communities where AI can’t infiltrate can engage with adversaries, triage threats, and curate intelligence specific to your organization.
To make the most of your dark web monitoring tool, you need to partner with an external cybersecurity provider to manage your solution and ensure you mitigate the threats discovered appropriately.
ZeroFox Can Help Protect Your IP Through Dark Web Monitoring
If the recent cyber threat trends are anything to go by, organizations need to proactively monitor not only their network but also the dark web to protect their sensitive information, such as IP, from being leaked or stolen.
At ZeroFox, we can help you protect your intellectual property through dark web monitoring. With our solution, you can gain powerful visibility into dark web communication to surface data leaks as well as deep and dark web data leaks and attack planning.
Request a demo of the ZeroFox platform today to discover how we can help your intellectual property across the deep and dark web as well as manage other security threats emerging on your organization’s attack surface.