How the Dark Web is affecting Oil & Gas

When you hear about the dark web, it’s usually associated with things like the Silk Road – an online black market best known for the sale of illegal drugs. Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in October 2013 following the arrest of its founder. The dark web is also where stolen credit card and personal information goes up for sale.


Understanding the dark web

The dark web is made up of networks that are isolated from the commercial internet. It is part of the Web that isn’t indexed and can’t be found by search engines, and instead, you need special software, configuration or authorization to access. The dark web provides content richness, private file sharing networks, and most importantly anonymity. Anonymity is the main reason Dark Webs are used, popular with journalists around the world. It is also used for a political safe-haven, privacy, black markets and piracy.

Tor is the most widely used network. Initially developed by the US Naval Research Labs, “onion routing” is the basis of Tor and how it can keep anonymity. Tor comes as an easy to use bundle, including the Tor browser, which lets you still browse the regular internet as well as view hidden services using a [dot]onion address. News outlets such as the Washington Post, The New Yorker and The Globe and Mail use Secure Drop, a service that runs on Tor for the secure communication between journalists and sources/whistleblowers. Services like these have been used by Edward Snowden to share NSA files with journalists. Communities on Tor are attempting to keep it clean, with privacy being the biggest concern.

Freenet is another style of a network that is peer-to-peer. It uses a small amount of your hard drive space and bandwidth to hold and access encrypted information. Instead of calling a server that contains the website you are trying to locate, it goes and picks up the information you asked for from other Freenet users.


What does this have to do with Oil & Gas?

In Alberta, energy is one of the largest industries, and stolen data from the industry is being shared and exposed on the dark web. The potential threats that are of concern for the sector are commodity malware, black market trading and ICS/SCADA Systems (industrial control systems & supervisory control and data acquisition systems). On the dark web, there is an increasing amount of commodity malware-style attacks for sale. Other services for purchase are disruptive targeting against industrial control systems (ICS) and insider secrets being traded on an anonymous marketplace. These threats could come from competitors as well as environmental activists.

At Next Digital we have the tools to protect your data. We utilize AI backed end-point threat protection to locate and remove any malware, as well as end-user education to make sure nobody is creating vulnerabilities in your system. Mitigate insider threats; there is monitoring software that can detect suspicious behaviour as well as limiting user rights. Contact Next Digital for more information.

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