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The Dark Web and Banking: What Financial Institutions Need to Knowby@devinpartida
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The Dark Web and Banking: What Financial Institutions Need to Know

by Devin Partida4mMarch 14th, 2024
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The dark web is a hub of illicit activities, contraband trade and encrypted conversations. Access is largely restricted to evade regulators and law enforcement agencies. Cybercriminals can leverage stolen data and insider information to steal a person’s identity, impersonate an account holder, or take advantage of someone else's credit benefits.
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If you’re like most people in the tech and financial sectors, you should be concerned about the dark web. While business leaders and IT professionals work to protect financial institutions, those threats strike without warning and are often untraceable. Can you defend against them?

What Do You Need to Know About the Dark Web?

The dark web is a hub of illicit activities, contraband trade, and encrypted conversations. Access is largely restricted to evade regulators and law enforcement agencies. Search engines don’t index them, so you have to know of them to find them.


If you tend to believe the experts, you should prioritize dark web threats. After all, 99% of chief information security officers working at financial services organizations feel concerned about them. They may not pose the most significant risk, but they’re hard to predict and trace.

The Risks the Dark Web Poses to Financial Institutions

Your main concern with dark web threats is the sale of stolen data like login credentials or answers to security questions. Since the online marketplaces where they’re sold are anonymous and fueled by cryptocurrency, those illegal transactions are all but untraceable.


Cybercriminals might also trade-sensitive financial details online in exchange for something they view as more valuable. Sometimes, they even post it for free. Those situations should alarm you because they suggest you have an insider threat — and show whoever it is will waste no time leaking data immediately after exfiltration.


Regardless of cybercriminals' goals, the dark web acts as a hub where they can organize, survey, and coordinate. Entire groups could meet regularly to discuss how they’ll attack you and you likely have no idea.


Some dark web websites offer hacking-as-a-service to anyone willing to pay. They can distribute malware, launch distributed denial-of-service attacks, or deploy ransomware on demand. Since they act as third-party vendors for others, tracing them can be challenging, if not impossible.


While most dark web threats revolve around cyber attacks, the more relevant ones involve financial fraud schemes. Cybercriminals can leverage stolen data and insider information to steal a person’s identity, impersonate an account holder, or take advantage of someone else’s credit benefits.


Most of the time, you’ll have no idea your organization’s data is being stolen and sold to the highest bidder until afterward. Since dark web threat actors can remotely infiltrate your network systems and silently monitor for vulnerabilities, a new cybersecurity incident can happen at any time. These anonymous, untraceable threats can strike when you least expect them.


The reality of these threats' risks to financial institutions should serve as a wake-up call. Unless you prioritize robust cybersecurity measures, your firm’s data — and its customers’ information — could soon end up on the dark web.

What Financial Information Is on the Dark Web?

You don’t have to look hard to find stockpiles and auctions for financial information on the dark web. Some of the most common are credit card numbers, login credentials, and bank account numbers. Personally identifiable information (PII) is also a big seller.


Addresses, driver’s license numbers, full legal names, social security numbers, and birthdates account for some of the most common PII for sale — or trade — on the dark web. You’ll also likely come across supplemental details like income data and location because they help give cybercriminals context to hide their crimes better.

How Banks Can Defend Against the Dark Web

The deep and dark web account for up to 95% of the internet, according to some estimates. How can you defend against those threats when they’re so massive? While it might seem unfeasible, it’s possible with the right tools and techniques.

Dark Web Monitoring

Dark web monitoring is a technique where you search for your organization’s information on the dark web as if you were a potential buyer to gain insight into what cybercriminals seek from you. It also helps you to recognize if breaches have occurred. You monitor the available data, who’s selling it, and whether it’s been purchased.

AI Anomaly Detection

With artificial intelligence anomaly detection, you can spot and flag anomalies internally or for end users — like network access attempts or suspicious withdrawals — preventing breaches and account compromises. This tool is more accurate than typical fraud detection systems because it can recognize context.

AI Pattern Recognition

AI-driven pattern recognition enables you to analyze past and current instances of compromise to predict future trends. You can use it to identify potential weak points to prevent attackers from gaining entry. Alternatively, you can use it to stop end-user fraud.

Authentication Measures

Authentication measures like biometrics and multi-factor authentication prevent attackers from successfully using stolen or leaked bank credentials. When they can’t gain access, they become less likely to purchase your customers’ login information in the future.

Password Protocols

If you’ve ever worked on the end-user side, you understand businesses should never leave security up to their customers. Password protocols that require more than 15 characters and have never been used previously — in case of a past breach — strengthen cybersecurity.

The Value of Novel Strategies for Counteracting Threats

Your role in counteracting dark web threats can’t be overstated. Besides the potential impact of inaction — like reputation and financial losses — you stand to gain from crafting novel strategies.


Modern, innovative techniques and tactics are the best defense against dark web threats because they put you one step ahead of cybercriminals. Take AI-driven approaches, for example — they’re among the best because they’re unconventional and versatile.


When you use your expertise to produce novel strategies for counteracting dark web threats, you ensure the financial sector’s resilience against illicit activities, effectively defending it against legal issues and regulatory action that could permanently impact the industry. You also protect dozens — if not thousands — of real people.

Defending Against Threats From the Dark Web

Dark web threats are often challenging to find, trace, and prevent. However, the right combination of strategies, techniques, and tools can guide your efforts and enhance your cybersecurity resiliency.