How is the Dark Web a Threat to Your Business?

Cyber Security Managed IT

Your business relies on digital technology, and as cyberthreats evolve and become more advanced, protecting your data with proactive, robust security measures has never been more important. A data breach can have a catastrophic effect on your company’s finances, productivity, and reputation, and may involve legal repercussions if industry regulations have been violated. Many of the threats businesses need to guard against originate in the internet realm known as the “Dark Web,” a breeding ground for criminal activity and a marketplace for stolen data. 

The “Surface Web” that we all frequent is made up of public websites with indexed information accessible by search engines. There, internet use is tracked (via cookies and other methods) to create a “digital footprint” unique to each user. This footprint contains identifying information about online behavior, including geographical location and browsing history. Most of the tracked data is legally obtained and utilized for targeted marketing purposes. Hence, your online search for a particular sneaker results in a barrage of sneaker ads that follow you across multiple platforms. 

What exactly is the Dark Web and what kind of information is available there?

The Dark Web is made up of encrypted sites that are only accessible using special software, providing a platform for anonymous–and often illegal–communication and transactions. This aptly named corner of the internet is home to scores of botnet servers responsible for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, identity theft, phishing scams, and spam emails, and serves as a repository for the illegally-obtained information. The data available for purchase on the Dark Web ranges from personally identifiable information (PII) like names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers, to financial data, like online banking passwords and stolen credit cards, to medical data that includes patient prescription history and test results, to confidential corporate data such as Intellectual Property (IP), patents, and other proprietary information. 

If your businesses login credentials are circulating on the Dark Web, you’re at risk. Login information opens the door to unauthorized access of your networks and systems, where cybercriminals may steal data for resale and infect computers with malware that can cripple operations. 

Is my business at risk?

Small-to-medium sized businesses, who may not prioritize cybersecurity–are especially vulnerable to attacks that can expose employee credentials and sensitive company data on the Dark Web. Studies show that 123456 continues to be the most commonly-used password. Other weak passwords that incorporate names, birthdates, or other personal details are easily cracked using one of the widely available password-cracking tools. No matter the size or nature of your business, if you’re online you’re at risk and should take precautions to prevent data theft. Often smaller companies lack the personnel or expertise to properly safeguard sensitive data, and this is where using a managed IT service can be invaluable to your business. 

How do I know if company information is already on the Dark Web?

Managed IT services have tools available that will conduct a scan of the Dark Web to determine if your company’s data has been compromised. If employee credentials or other sensitive information is found on the Dark Web, there’s no way to tell whether it’s already been copied or sold, so removal doesn’t remove risk. The first step to mitigate the impact of a breach is to immediately make the stolen information irrelevant. This means changing all company passwords, and implementing second factor authentication or using a secure password manager. Weak or reused passwords are the most common vulnerability that criminals exploit. Managed IT services can help your business manage damage control, implement security protocols, and safeguard against future data breaches.

What can I do to protect my business from cyberattacks?

Employee Education

The first line of defense for every business is education, and its importance cannot be overstated. Comprehensive training to make sure employees understand the tactics used in data theft–including phishing scams and social engineering–is crucial, as is emphasizing the importance of password protection. Teaching employees at every level of your organization how to recognize and avoid potential cyberattacks will go a long way toward safeguarding your data.

Secure Devices

With many employees now working remotely, individual devices also pose a security risk. Your IT service will ensure that all devices connected to your network, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and phones, are protected with endpoint security solutions like antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. Employees should be educated about the use of secure wifi networks, VPNs, and encrypted communication to keep company information safe. 

Access Control and Monitoring

Another priority is the implementation of strict access control. Define which employees can access sensitive data like financial information or customer records, based on their job roles and responsibilities. Even with these controls in place, round-the-clock monitoring is essential in order to catch any suspicious activity. 

Proactive Prevention and Rapid Response

An IT management service can provide ongoing Dark Web monitoring that will routinely scan illicit platforms in search of your company data. This is a complex process that is best left to trained professionals, as accessing the Dark Web can unintentionally lead to increased security risk. Should a breach be detected, your service provider will have a rapid response plan in place to address potential problems before they can escalate into a crisis.

Don’t wait until your company’s sensitive information becomes a commodity on the Dark Web. The long term damage to your business from a data breach far outweighs the cost and effort involved to prevent one. We live in an age where robust and proactive security measures are essential in protecting your data. Partnering with a professional IT management service will provide peace of mind with the knowledge that all your bases are covered. 

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Designing a cybersecurity program is complex, and expecting everyone within your organization to follow complicated policies is bound to fail. As with most things, simpler is better. At Nessit, experience has taught us that easy-to-understand cybersecurity policies are the most effective, and as cyber threats become more sophisticated, protecting sensitive data has never been more critical. Data breaches can have devastating consequences, including lost productivity, damage to reputations, and potential lawsuits. 

The risk of neglecting cybersecurity may be compounded as new legislation is continually introduced across the country to incentivize data security. Florida’s recent Cybersecurity Incident Liability Act (HB 473) would have offered immunity to companies that suffer data breaches–but only under certain conditions. Contingent on compliance with Florida’s data breach notification law and cybersecurity measures that meet defined standards, this legislation provides companies significant legal protection. Governor DeSantis vetoed the bill in late June saying in a press release, “the bill could result in Floridians’ data being less secure as the bill provides across-the-board protections for only substantially complying with standards.” 

While this bill hasn’t passed, many states are implementing new legislation regarding consequences for businesses for not properly protecting your customer data.  

Many businesses simply don’t see the value or feel daunted by the prospect of implementing a complex cybersecurity program. That’s where a Managed IT Provider can help. At its core, cybersecurity is about designing and maintaining policies and technologies that prevent unauthorized access to valuable company data. Nessit believes that the best way to do this is to introduce straightforward policies that are directly tied to their real-life impact.  

Here are a few examples of how companies can frame cybersecurity measures to clearly explain their importance: 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

We enforce Multi-factor authentication because passwords are compromised faster than companies can keep up with. MFA adds an additional layer of security beyond just a password, making it significantly harder for attackers to gain access. 

Device Encryption

We mandate device encryption because we have seen the forgotten laptop at TSA without its owner. Encrypting all company devices ensures that even if a device is lost or stolen, the data remains secure. 

Disabling Former Employee Accounts

We ensure past employee accounts are disabled the day they leave because breakups aren’t easy and company data is invaluable. This prevents former employees from accessing sensitive information after their departure, reducing the risk of data theft or sabotage. 

While HB 473 could have provided real benefits to businesses, it can also present challenges. Companies would have to demonstrate compliance with the law’s provisions. Adherence to requirements of cybersecurity industry standards would have been carefully scrutinized. Businesses would need to be proactive in documenting their program’s compliance to mitigate potential legal risks. This requires time and expertise that many companies just don’t have, but Managed IT Providers can help navigate the challenges. 

Nessit’s comprehensive cybersecurity services include: 

  • Risk Assessment: Regularly evaluating an organization’s cybersecurity measures to identify and address vulnerabilities. 
  • Policy Development: Creating clear, understandable policies that are easy for employees to follow 
  • Training: Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices and the importance of these policies. 
  • Continuous Monitoring: 24/7 monitoring to ensure a quick response to potential threats. 
  • Compliance Assistance: Making sure cybersecurity measures meet industry standards and legal requirements. 

Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be complicated for business owners. The right Managed IT Provider can simplify the process, implementing and maintaining effective policies that ensure your company’s security. Partnering with our team provides the expertise and resources to protect your data and gives you peace of mind. In our interconnected world, having robust cybersecurity is a strategic advantage that protects you from threats and positions your company for long term success. Prepare now for future legislation that could have negative impacts on your business if you’re not ready for them.  

Architectural firms have unique IT needs, and rely on specialized software and applications, large data storage, and seamless connectivity. Employees working in-office and remotely need to be able to access, share, and collaborate on files, blueprints, schematics, and 3D models. Managing your network infrastructure can be a time-consuming and complex task, and unforeseen IT issues can have serious consequences in terms of diminished productivity, disrupted deadlines, data loss, and compromised security.  

Managed IT services can provide myriad benefits for architectural firms.  

Customized IT Solutions 

Every architecture firm is unique and IT needs may vary. In an industry that requires highly specialized software, large file storage, and CAD support, a Managed IT services provider with experience in the field of architecture and building design is invaluable, offering custom tailored solutions to meet your firm’s specific needs.  

Streamlined Operations

The architecture industry demands precision and efficiency. By outsourcing IT management, firms can streamline operations, reduce downtime, and ensure that teams have access to the resources they need. This translates into greater efficiency and allows architects to concentrate on their core competencies without getting bogged down by IT issues. 

Enhanced Cybersecurity 

Protecting sensitive client information, intellectual property and proprietary design plans is essential to your business. Managed IT services provide robust cybersecurity measures, including firewalls, antivirus software, and threat detection monitoring, ensuring that valuable data is secure. 

Proactive Maintenance and Support 

Rather than waiting for issues to arise, a Managed IT services provider takes a proactive approach to maintenance and support. Regular system updates, software patches, and preventative measures will be implemented to address potential problems before they impact daily operations. Round-the-clock monitoring means issues are addressed promptly, minimizing downtime and providing a stable and reliable IT environment. 

Cost-Effective Solutions 

Managing an IT department in-house can be financially burdensome, particularly for smaller architecture firms. Managed IT services offer a cost-effective solution, with a predictable payment schedule, your business can budget effectively, strategically allocate resources, and avoid unexpected IT expenses.  

Improved Communication and Collaboration 

Architectural design demands effective collaboration. Managed IT services ensure that your team has access to seamless communication tools, file-sharing capabilities, and real time collaboration platforms, whether working in the same office or remotely. 

Data Backup and Recovery 

It goes without saying that data loss can have devastating consequences for architectural firms. Managed IT services include comprehensive data backup and a robust recovery strategy to protect critical files and avoid disruption to operations.  

Compliance and Regulation 

Following regulations regarding client confidentiality and data privacy is essential for architecture firms, both to meet legal obligations and maintain client trust. Managed IT service providers understand industry-specific compliance standards and will ensure that your business adheres to them. 

An efficient, secure, and accessible IT system is critical to your company’s success and effective management and monitoring is an often-complex task. Among the many IT challenges architectural firms face is integrating the latest technology into existing infrastructure, performing proactive maintenance, and ensuring security, compliance, 24/7 monitoring, and ongoing management. This is where Managed IT services can help, by providing customized, comprehensive IT solutions that allow you to focus on what you do best and position your business for success. 

As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your digital front lines. Any business, no matter how small, is a potential target for hackers. In fact, smaller businesses are often less invested in security, and therefore more vulnerable. Preventing an attack is far less costly than dealing with the aftermath. Human error is the cause of more than 80% of cybersecurity breaches, with the cost to businesses worldwide growing by more than a trillion dollars a year. This includes direct financial loss, destruction of data, theft of intellectual property, lost productivity, restoration costs, and reputational damage. 

Here are the most common cybersecurity threats, and the proactive measures your business can take to avoid them. 

Insider Threats 

Employees are both the first line of defense against cyber-attacks and the most common cause of security breaches. Insider threats – whether intentional or not – can pose significant risks to your business. Creating an internal culture that prioritizes security is essential to combat threats that target your employees. Every business should conduct comprehensive training sessions on best practices for security and the potential consequences of cybercrime. Employee education should include training about using secure and unique passwords for every account, two-factor authentication, and the importance of reporting suspicious activity. Make sure your team really understands the role they all play in keeping your entire company safe.  

Make sure your IT professionals monitor network activity for unusual or unauthorized behavior and implement strict controls to restrict employees’ access to sensitive information based on their roles. This is even more important if your company supports remote work and/or has employees who use mobile devices for business purposes. It’s smart to use mobile device management solutions which allow you to control access, enable device encryption, and remotely wipe devices that are lost or stolen.  

If your business collaborates with third-party vendors and suppliers, don’t be afraid to ask them about their cybersecurity practices. You can even include language in your agreements or contracts regarding security requirements to stay vigilant about potential risks introduced by your supply chain. 


Phishing – when an attacker attempts to gain access to personal information by posing as a legitimate contact – is the most common cybersecurity threat, responsible for 90% of all data breaches. Phishing most often takes the form of an email that appears to come from a trusted source, providing a link to click asking for a user’s credentials (username, passwords, etc) or a request to download a file. The attacker can then use the information to access the company network and steal sensitive data, or to install malware on the victim’s computer.  

Cybercriminals are adept at using social engineering to manipulate “weak links” within an organization into divulging sensitive information. One such technique is spear phishing, a targeted version of phishing where the fraudulent email is personalized for a single recipient. 

Users should be taught how to recognize and avoid phishing attempts using the following guidelines: 

  • If an email looks suspicious, do not open it and report it immediately. 
  • Don’t click on unverified email links and don’t open attachments from unknown senders.  
  • Don’t give out your login credentials to anyone. If you receive a request to change your password, verify the source first. 
  • Use unique passwords for everything and avoid using names, birthdates or other easy-to-guess information. A random password generator is the safest bet.   
  • Use two-factor authentication. 


A ransomware attack is when your company’s data is held hostage in an attempt to extort payment. This is done by installing malware that encrypts an organization’s data and makes it inaccessible until the ransom is paid. A computer can be infected with malware delivered via email or websites and the user may not be aware that their data has been compromised until it’s too late. Businesses that fall victim to ransomware face not only data theft, but lost productivity, damaged reputations, and potential lawsuits. 

To protect against ransomware, establish a robust backup system, and an IT recovery plan to ensure critical data can be restored quickly in the event of an attack. Your business should have endpoint protection solutions that can detect ransomware and mitigate threats. These solutions go beyond standard anti-virus software to secure “endpoint” devices like laptops, phones, and IoT-connected smart devices, blocking unauthorized applications, employing encryption, and allowing centralized IT monitoring. This is especially important as remote work becomes the norm and the number of endpoint devices increases. Any device with a network connection is a potential entry point for ransomware and may be targeted by cybercriminals.  

And once again, educating employees on security best practices is essential to prevent ransomware attacks. Ongoing training about the use of strong passwords, not clicking suspicious links in emails, and not opening files from unknown sources remains the simplest and most effective way to protect your business.  

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

DDoS attacks work by flooding a network, service, or website with excessive traffic in order to cause business disruption and costly downtime. This can result in problems accessing your website, slow or unresponsive servers, and error messages. IoT devices with default logins or weak security protections are particularly vulnerable to attack, which can then spread to compromise and control other devices on the network. This group of infected devices forms a robot network, or “botnet.” Botnets can be controlled by a single source and used to carry out large-scale attacks. In addition to crippling operations, DDoS attackers may attempt to extort payment in return for stopping the attack. 

Network administrators should make sure all devices are secure, and closely monitor network traffic. DDoS protection services can be employed to detect abnormalities and identify and filter out illegitimate traffic before the server is overwhelmed. Distribute resources across multiple servers and locations to ensure that a single point of failure can’t bring down your entire infrastructure. 

So What Should Your Business Do?

Be proactive by implementing robust security strategies. Create comprehensive employee training to protect sensitive information and maintain the trust of customers and business partners. Partner with a Managed IT firm who will have your back every step of the way.