Netskope named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Security Service Edge. Get the Report.

  • Platform

    Unrivaled visibility and real-time data and threat protection on the world's largest security private cloud.

  • Products

    Netskope products are built on the Netskope Security Cloud.

Netskope delivers a modern cloud security stack, with unified capabilities for data and threat protection, plus secure private access.

Explore our platform
Birds eye view metropolitan city

Netskope Named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for SSE Report

Get the report Go to Products Overview
Netskope gartner mq 2022 sse leader

Make the move to market-leading cloud security services with minimal latency and high reliability.

Learn more
Lighted highway through mountainside switchbacks

Prevent threats that often evade other security solutions using a single-pass SSE framework.

Learn more
Lighting storm over metropolitan area

Zero trust solutions for SSE and SASE deployments

Learn more
Boat driving through open sea

Netskope enables a safe, cloud-smart, and fast journey to adopt cloud services, apps, and public cloud infrastructure.

Learn more
Wind turbines along cliffside
  • Customer Success

    Secure your digital transformation journey and make the most of your cloud, web, and private applications.

  • Customer Support

    Proactive support and engagement to optimize your Netskope environment and accelerate your success.

  • Training and Certification

    Netskope training will help you become a cloud security expert.

Trust Netskope to help you address evolving threats, new risks, technology shifts, organizational and network changes, and new regulatory requirements.

Learn more
Woman smiling with glasses looking out window

We have qualified engineers worldwide, with diverse backgrounds in cloud security, networking, virtualization, content delivery, and software development, ready to give you timely, high-quality technical assistance.

Learn more
Bearded man wearing headset working on computer

Secure your digital transformation journey and make the most of your cloud, web, and private applications with Netskope training.

Learn more
Group of young professionals working
  • Resources

    Learn more about how Netskope can help you secure your journey to the cloud.

  • Blog

    Learn how Netskope enables security and networking transformation through security service edge (SSE).

  • Events & Workshops

    Stay ahead of the latest security trends and connect with your peers.

  • Security Defined

    Everything you need to know in our cybersecurity encyclopedia.

Security Visionaries Podcast

Bonus Episode: The Importance of Security Service Edge (SSE)

Play the podcast
Black man sitting in conference meeting

Read the latest on how Netskope can enable the Zero Trust and SASE journey through security service edge (SSE) capabilities.

Read the blog
Sunrise and cloudy sky

Netskope CSO speaking events

Meet the Netskope CSO team at one of our upcoming events.

Find an event
Netskope CSO Team

What is Security Service Edge?

Explore the security side of SASE, the future of network and protection in the cloud.

Learn more
Four-way roundabout
  • Company

    We help you stay ahead of cloud, data, and network security challenges.

  • Why Netskope

    Cloud transformation and work from anywhere have changed how security needs to work.

  • Leadership

    Our leadership team is fiercely committed to doing everything it takes to make our customers successful.

  • Partners

    We partner with security leaders to help you secure your journey to the cloud.

Netskope enables the future of work.

Find out more
Curvy road through wooded area

Netskope is redefining cloud, data, and network security to help organizations apply Zero Trust principles to protect data.

Learn more
Switchback road atop a cliffside

Thinkers, builders, dreamers, innovators. Together, we deliver cutting-edge cloud security solutions to help our customers protect their data and people.

Meet our team
Group of hikers scaling a snowy mountain

Netskope’s partner-centric go-to-market strategy enables our partners to maximize their growth and profitability while transforming enterprise security.

Learn more
Group of diverse young professionals smiling
Blog Data Protection There’s a place that is scarier than the Dark Web
Jan 10 2018

There’s a place that is scarier than the Dark Web

I originally planned to focus this blog post on the dark web. Many of you reading this blog may know that the dark web is a well-known part of the internet where many sites are not indexed by search engines and can only be accessed if you know the site address, making them effectively hidden. Accessing the dark web requires special software, like browsers configured with Tor. Once inside the dark web, “dark net” markets exist that sell sensitive data stolen in breaches (in addition to illegal products like drugs and firearms). The dark web’s currency of choice is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

I thought it would be interesting to do some research and take a tour of the dark web, providing my perspective on what activities take place and how easy it is to buy and sell sensitive data.  The dark web presents a Déjà vu experience for me personally. You see, as young teenager, I was one of the many pioneers of the early dial-up BBS age in the 80s.

I hosted a “warez” site in my bedroom and had hundreds of visitors to my site from around the world, although only one at a time could visit in those early days. My system was a Commodore 64 computer, a 1541 disk drive, and a 300 baud modem, which I later upgraded to a 1200 baud modem. I used “phreaking” techniques to cover long distance phone charges. You could argue that what I was doing in the 80s was a form of today’s dark web although instead of drugs, firearms, etc., I was simply sharing software.

Fast forward to present day and I was eager to try out the dark web. To kick things off, I installed a VPN, configured my browser with Tor, and proceeded to spend several hours perusing a bunch of .onion sites. As part of the process, I went back and forth between the dark web and the real world, Googling in the real world to find some of the more popular dark websites. That is when it hit me. While the dark web can be scary with a variety of places where you can get access sensitive data if you look hard enough, there is a place arguably more dangerous and much more significant in scale. Thousands of public-facing sites where sensitive data can be easily uploaded and shared either with malicious intent or accidentally by unsuspecting perpetrators. This place is the opposite of the dark web because it is not hidden, but actually right in front of us in plain sight. Welcome to the “bright web.”

Researching the bright web – meet our victim Frank Altos

To help articulate what the bright web is, I enlisted the Netskope Threat Research Labs team and turned the research away from the dark web and instead focused on places on the public internet where you can easily upload and share sensitive data-in many cases anonymously without requiring you to create an account tied to a credit card. For some of you, these findings may be shocking. Many of you already know that some of these sites existed, but perhaps may not have realized how widespread and ridiculously easy it is to do some significant damage.

As part of the research, we wanted to paint a real-world scenario that involves sharing sensitive data. To support this, we created a piece of data that represents the type of data that stolen during the recent Equifax data breach. We created a fictitious customer record with personal information that includes name, address, phone number, email, and social security number. I also added a couple of credit card numbers, which we thought would be appropriate given how often these are sold on the dark web. Last, but certainly not least, we included the mother’s maiden name tied to this user, which is another piece of information that can be valuable to hackers. We packaged this sensitive data in three different formats; a PDF, a JPEG, and .pptx, which will allow us to expand our reach as we used the bright web to upload and share this data.

Places to upload and share Frank’s personal info

Now that we had our sensitive data, we started the process of looking for places on the internet that make it easy to share this information. As a base, we have the benefit of having more than 24,000 cloud services that are researched by the Netskope Threat Research Labs team. The Netskope research team also organizes these cloud services into categories. For this particular research, we focused on categories where it is common to facilitate sharing. This includes cloud storage, collaboration, and personal cloud apps. We took the most popular cloud services within these categories as measured by the number of user sessions across Netskope cloud tenants.

Next, we wanted to focus on cloud services that you can easily sign up for and share data without the service requiring a credit card. If a credit card is needed, this presents enough friction that anonymously sharing becomes harder. For those cloud services that don’t require a credit card, we wanted to identify the ones that you can upload and share data publicly and that data could be indexed by search engines. This the riskiest scenario given the fact that sensitive data can easily be uploaded and shared publicly. A recent example of this was when Microsoft Docs.com was shut down temporarily after complaints that data was being shared publicly by default.

We also wanted to identify cloud services that simply make it easy to upload and share sensitive data via a shared link.

In this case, the shared link is not indexed by search engines so you would have to share the link with specific people or groups or place the shared link on a website so search engines will index it. Nonetheless, the fact that you can easily upload and share data without signing up with a credit card makes it very easy to leak sensitive data.

Research findings

We researched a sample size that included 1,000 of the top cloud services in the cloud storage and collaboration categories in addition to a handful of slide sharing cloud services in the personal cloud app category. We then extrapolated the numbers based on the total number of cloud services. Here are the results:

1,200+ cloud services make it easy to share sensitive data

More than 10% (1,240) of cloud services allow you to easily sign up without a credit card, upload data, and share data. Here are links we created using a handful of these cloud services to share Frank’s personal data:

Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lurd51qeg25feiq/Customer%20Record.pdf?dl=0

OneDrive: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AiOdtHvp9jERaX5mFYba9HF4wDw

Box: https://app.box.com/s/skyfz7wuvqig4mr27xa28xuic7cqjiqw

Citrix Share File: https://280consulting.sharefile.com/d-s5f29f174b5f4bacb

Wetransfer: https://we.tl/FEhl9Y7Nf2

Mediafire: http://www.mediafire.com/file/6l5eye4izthgf4p/Customer_Record.pdf

Hundreds of cloud services make it easy to share data publicly

Hundreds of cloud storage and slide sharing services allow you to upload and share data publicly. This may be fine for data meant to be public, but sensitive data such as business plans, customer data, and anything confidential could easily get in the wrong hands. Google Drive is the only mainstream cloud storage service that enables users to bypass cloud storage security control by supporting the ability to share data publicly and have it indexed by search engines. Other cloud services such as OpenDrive and Jottacloud also enable public sharing. Below is a look at Google’s public sharing capability and a public link to Frank’s personal data.

Frank’s personal data in Google can be discovered by simply searching for “Customer Record site:drive.google.com”. This tells Google to search for any mention of the search terms Customer Record in drive.google.com. Searching public-facing data that resides in Google Drive accounts is as easy as entering the following in Google: <search terms> site:drive.google.com. It turns out that there are more than 434,000 public-facing files in Google Drive accounts and more than a third appear to be sensitive by nature.

I used this technique and found a number of sensitive data in some interesting locations. For example, a city in Massachusetts hosts a large amount of public-facing data in Google Drive from the city’s police department to the Town Clerk. Google Drive is their central repository with links to the data surfaced via various websites. While most, if not all, of this data is expected to be publicly available, it was not clear if the city intended to make the central repository of Google Drive available to the public.    

Sensitive data is being shared publicly via slide sharing cloud services

Slide sharing services are a popular way to upload and share your presentation. These services also make it easy to share publicly and it is unbelievable the type of data you can find simply by performing a Google search. For example, if you search for “Prezi” and “QBR” you will find all public-facing QBR (quarterly business review) presentations posted on slide sharing service Prezi. This includes sensitive data such as revenue numbers, customer names, and business plans. This data is obviously not intended to be shared publicly. Here is a small sample of some of the presentations discovered with that simple search:

Q3 QBR presentation by Blake https://prezi.com/2lhek3nn6jt3/q3-qbr-presentation/

QBR presentation by Daniel  https://prezi.com/g3fvjr7ipkxi/qbr-presentation/

QBR presentation by Jen https://prezi.com/ogwrzh8x5qvm/qbr/

QBR presentation by Jack https://prezi.com/jqodmmbtl04w/jack-holroyd-qbr/

QBR by Amit https://prezi.com/mgovxx61ojt0/qbr/

Here are some of additional slide sharing services along with public shares of Frank’s personal data. It is amazing how easy it is to sign up for these cloud services using a fictitious account and easily upload sensitive content, and share publicly.

Slideshare https://www.slideshare.net/FrankAltos/customer-record-81633005

Beamium https://www.beamium.com/YRBDHCFF

Slidesnack http://snack.to/b7n0o88j?UA_PHPSESSID=tsi684kd61i5iaoklpl427abc1

Slides http://slides.com/frankaltos/deck

Summary

While the bright web is a scary place, it also has a good side. On average an enterprise has more than 1,000 cloud services in use and more than 95% of those are business-led with the remaining 5% being IT-led. Lines of business rely on these cloud services to move fast, innovate, and be more productive. A sound cloud security strategy should be comprehensive and include a focus on securing the IT-led cloud services like Office 365 in addition to safely enabling the bright web with granular access control and Cloud DLP that can be applied to bright web traffic. Given the previous example, your Google Drive security best practices should include a focus on making sure sensitive data is not shared publicly.

You can learn more about the bright web by joining our upcoming webinar https://go.netskope.com/lp-webinar-can-you-see-the-bright-web.html where we will be sharing our research findings, providing a live demonstration, and walking through how Netskope can help your users safely maneuver the bright web.

author image
About the author
Bob Gilbert heads up the product marketing efforts at Netskope, a market-leading cloud security company. Bob is a prolific speaker and product demonstrator, reaching live audiences in more than 45 countries over the past decade.
Bob Gilbert heads up the product marketing efforts at Netskope, a market-leading cloud security company. Bob is a prolific speaker and product demonstrator, reaching live audiences in more than 45 countries over the past decade.