In the last six months or so, the mainstream media has had a bit of a hay day with the Deep Web, largely in part thanks to the break up of The Silk Road website, which was found on the anonymous TOR network.

Such was the drama associated with the reporting of this incident that rather than acting as a warning to companies, many simply rejected it as an anomaly. But trust me, dismissing the deep web is a serious mistake that could be very costly to your business.

The Deep Web

First, let's take a step back. What exactly is the deep web? Well its content that is part of the Internet that seeks to deliberately avoid being indexed by search engines.

Estimating its size is nigh on impossible because the Internet has evolved so rapidly, but is thought to be approximately 500 times the size of the Surface Web (content that can be indexed by search engines).

If you think the volume of content Google and co give you access to is vast, in reality indexed searches are the tip of the iceberg. And we all know what they say about icebergs - it's what's below the surface that you need to worry about.

The reason the Deep Web is such a concern for companies is because it has essentially become a marketplace for a wide variety of illegal content from child abuse images, money laundering, copyright infringement and unauthorised leaks of sensitive information to name but a few.

Key Challenges

From an enterprise perspective the Deep Web poses two key challenges. Firstly, how can you ensure that employees don't unintentionally or otherwise access the Deep Web whilst at work? And secondly, if you can't see the Deep Web, how do you keep the bad guys out?

The seemingly unstoppable rise of anonymous proxies means that employees have more means at their disposal than ever before to bypass network security.

Many employees use anonymous proxies without realising the possible ramifications, but in doing so they can unwittingly open a back door to the corporate that can be exploited. This raises the possibility of companies being forced to wave goodbye to their priceless IP, whilst a hacker gets rich selling it on the Deep Web.

This whole situation presents something of a Catch 22. The Internet is increasingly a valuable economic resource, so shutting it down simply isn't viable, but equally companies need to protect themselves. The key here is to make sure that you have a real-time security landscape.

All too often security technologies only alert a company once an incident has happened - but by then it's too late. A delay of even a minute is too much. Real-time security that responds immediately to user requests is essential in the fight to ensure companies don't fall victim to the Deep Web.

  • Charles Sweeney is CEO of Bloxx. He has worked with a number of successful high-growth SMEs across a variety of sectors including medical devices, animal health and software development.