How The ‘Dark Web’ Is Pushing the Need for Greater Automation

 Automation is quickly becoming the order of the day in the world of business and it’s not difficult to see why.

Communication is streamlined in a most pleasing fashion, accountability is regimented, manual errors are all but done away with and the process of keeping tabs on all areas of commercial activity is made drastically easier. That being said, it isn’t being used everywhere and in those places it is not being utilised a sinister entity is taking advantage; The Dark Web.

The Dark Web is a clandestine part of the world-wide web that requires special software to access. Once inside, web sites and other services can be retrieved using a browser in much the same way as the normal web. However, some sites are concealed. They are not indexed by search engines and can only be accessed if you know the address of the site. Specific markets also operate within the dark web called darknet markets, which mainly sell illegal products like drugs and firearms, paid for in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

But it is also being used for something else; the forgery of documents that otherwise one would have to purchase. Admittedly less terrifying than some of the other uses of the Dark Web, it is proving to be damaging to business.

The issue came to public attention recently when it was revealed that train users, angered by the soaring costs of travel, were turning to the Dark Web to purchase near perfect forgeries at a fraction of the price of the real thing. The sellers of the tickets, which include first class and monthly passes, present themselves as modern day Robin Hood figures hitting back at ‘greedy’ train companies. Although it should be noted that they have little to say about the fact almost 97% of fares are put back into helping run and improve services. It’s not small potatoes we’re dealing with either. One representative of the rail companies puts the figure of lost revenue due to forgeries at somewhere around the £200 million mark.

The story was a wake-up call to those businesses who haven’t made the shift towards full digitalisation and automation of the processes involved in paying for their products and services. So long as any business relies on print-outs as proof of purchase or entitlement they will be open to forgery and this is before we even get into how they slow processes down, can blur audit trails and create customer service issues. Automation is still, in many respects, an emergent technology but it will undoubtedly become the norm and the benefits to businesses big and small are plain to see.

It’s no longer just about speeding things up in your business, automation is about protecting it.