Why Law Firms Need to Perform a Dark Web Scan

Personal data is being compromised every day, oftentimes unbeknownst to the individuals being affected and the organizations experiencing cybersecurity breaches. 

In fact, the average time it takes businesses to identify and contain a data breach is 287 days. This is troubling, especially when you consider the negative impact a data breach can have on your law firm. 

Not only does it hurt the reputation of your firm over the long term, it also incurs financial costs immediately, including potential fines, containing the breach with a managed IT service provider or your internal IT team, and enhancing your current cybersecurity program and data protection policy to prevent future breaches. 

All of this adds up, and the costs of recovery and containment are rising. In 2021, the average cost of a data breach reached a staggering $4.24 million.

One of the best methods of staying proactive is ensuring that your law firm’s data and the personal information of your clients are not being used and sold illegally. A good place to start is looking into where a lot of malicious activity happens that most businesses overlook — the dark web. 

What Is the Dark Web?

The dark web is a collection of websites that are not indexed by standard search engines. This includes many illegal and controversial sites, which tend to support criminal activities like selling illegal drugs or weapons. 

It’s often associated with criminal activity, but there are also legitimate uses for it, such as whistleblowers sharing information anonymously.

While the average person may never need to access the dark web, it’s important to be aware of its existence. For law firms, this helps you better understand if your company’s data has been compromised and how that data is being sold and used. 

How the Dark Web Works

To better understand how the dark web operates, it’s helpful to know how it fits into the structure of the internet as a whole. There are three distinct levels of the internet: 

  1. The surface web is the part of the internet that is easily accessible to everyone and includes popular websites, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
  2. The deep web refers to the parts of the internet that are not indexed by search engines and can only be accessed using specific software or configurations. It includes sites such as online databases, intranets, secure storage, and password-protected websites.
  3. The dark web is the small portion of the deep web that has been intentionally hidden and is only accessible through special software known as The Onion Router (Tor). 

Tor is a free software that allows users to browse the internet anonymously. When you use Tor, your IP address is hidden and your traffic is encrypted, making it very difficult for anyone to track your activity.

This anonymity makes Tor a popular choice for criminals, as it makes it very difficult for law enforcement to track their activity. With the option of truly anonymous, untrackable behavior, the dark web acts as a haven for many types of scams and frauds. 

For example, there have been numerous cases of people being scammed out of large sums of money after paying for goods or services that never arrive.

However, not everyone using the dark web is a criminal looking to steal money or exchange illegal goods and services, like identity theft or identity fraud.

Who Uses the Dark Web?

The vast majority of people who use the dark web are doing so for legitimate reasons. Studies show that about seven percent of global Tor users are engaging in illicit activities

However, while there is only a small minority that uses the dark web for criminal purposes, that still tells a disturbing story — out of over two million active Tor users, there are still hundreds of thousands of people actively engaging in criminal activity online. 

The Most Common Dangers of Using the Dark Web

There are many dangers associated with accessing and using the dark web. Some of the most notable dangers include: 

  • The possibility of being scammed or defrauded by dishonest sellers.
  • The risk of being exposed to illegal or explicit content.
  • The potential for malware or viruses to be contracted from visiting malicious websites.
  • The likelihood of having personal information stolen if data is not properly secured.
  • The chance of being arrested or prosecuted for accessing illegal content or participating in criminal activity during a dark web investigation.
  • The potential for becoming addicted to using the dark web and/or engaging in risky behavior.
  • The risk of physical harm if meeting someone in person after connecting with them on the dark web.
  • The likelihood of psychological damage from exposure to disturbing content or participating in illegal activity.

When learning about how the dark web works and seeing how many people are actively engaging in criminal activity, it’s common to ask, “Is my data on the dark web?”

As a law firm, you want to put your clients’ minds at ease and confidently tell them that your practice follows all IT best practices to protect them. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to conduct a dark web check. 

Why Law Firms Need to Monitor the Dark Web

There are several reasons why businesses are being proactive in managing legal IT. One of the most notable ones is the fact that law firms face significant cybersecurity risks, including:

  • Phishing attacks
  • Ransomware
  • Insider attacks
  • DDoS attacks

Identifying if any of your firm’s data is being sold on the dark web helps you stay vigilant against cyber criminals. This helps you respond faster to potential breaches and minimize the damage to your firm. 

Additionally, you can demonstrate to your clients how much you respect their privacy. They want to see how conscious you are of keeping their data secure. 

Ultimately, you also want to upload your professional obligation when it comes to keeping your clients safe. As outlined in the American Bar Association’s Ethics Opinion 483, lawyers must take reasonable measures to prevent data breaches, and they’re obligated to actively communicate with clients about any data breach that could impact them. 

Get a Dark Web Scan Now!

Stay proactive in protecting your firm from data breaches. You and your clients deserve peace of mind knowing that their personal data is not being sold on the dark web. 

Converged Technology Group scours the dark web to help you stay informed on any signs of potential cybersecurity breaches affecting your firm. Learn more about how we help you prevent breaches and support your clients.

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