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OWL Cybersecurity Report: Microsoft Ranks Highest For Most Exposed Data and Largest Darknet Footprint Among Black Hat USA 2017 Exhibitors

Hewlett Packard and Accenture also rank high on OWL Cybersecurity’s Darknet Index: Black Hat Edition examining the darknet presence of all 283 exhibiting companies


OWL Cybersecurity, a Denver-based cybersecurity company offering the world’s largest commercially available database of darknet data, today released The Darknet Index: Black Hat Edition ranking all 283 Black Hat USA 2017 exhibitors by security threat levels and exposed data on the darknet.

To compile this Index, OWL Cybersecurity ran each Black Hat exhibitor through the OWL Vision database, focusing on specific darknets for matches on each company’s website and email domains. Then, OWL Cybersecurity further adjusted the results based on computations of “hackishness” — a proprietary algorithmic rating system which delivers scores based on the likelihood that data could be used for nefarious intent. OWL Cybersecurity also weighted data based on how recently the data was placed on the darknet, with recent results — from within the last 90 days — given the most weight, as recent breaches or data leaks containing an organization’s proprietary information often are most useful in targeting organizations.

“What matters most is an exhibitor’s ranking as compared to its competition,” said Mark Turnage, CEO of OWL Cybersecurity. “For example, if Symantec, Trend Micro, and Kapersky Lab consider each other competitors, they should assess their footprint scores in relation to one another.”

OWL Cybersecurity recently reranked the Fortune 500 by darknet footprint and security levels, and decided to examine the Black Hat USA 2017 exhibitors to see whether they have a markedly different darknet footprint than other indices. Every company on the Fortune 500 index had a presence on the darknet, whereas only 75 percent of the Black Hat exhibitors did, by far the lowest percentage of positive sample results OWL Cybersecurity tested across multiple groups.

Some key takeaways from the index include:
• Microsoft leads the Black Hat Darknet Index. Microsoft scored higher than the score they registered three months ago when their darknet footprint landed them at #12 on the Fortune 500 Index.
• Hewlett Packard and Accenture are not far behind. OWL Cybersecurity attributes these rankings to the companies’ growing volume of data collected in the OWL Vision platform.
• The U.S. government is exposed. The Department of Homeland Security ranks fourth on the Black Hat Darknet Index, which is surprising given its overall mission. (Next month, OWL Cybersecurity will publish their ranking of the top U.S. government agencies by their presence on the darknet.)
• Top targets are large organizations expanding into cybersecurity. Four of the top 10 ranked companies in the Black Hat Darknet Index are also listed in the Fortune 500 Index. All three of the largest anti-virus firms were in the top 20. While OWL Cybersecurity expects larger, more established companies to have more significant darknet footprints overall, the degree to which these factors determined the top rankings of the Black Hat Darknet Index was surprising.
• Hacked valuable data leads to an increased risk. The highest-scoring companies all had credentials and/or intellectual property, which can be monetized by others, exposed on the darknet. The presence of this type of sensitive information is quite common in the database.

Based on the results of The Darknet Index: Black Hat Edition, it is apparent that investing in cybersecurity has tangible Darknet Index score benefits. While there were exceptions, companies that take information security seriously (like most Black Hat exhibitors), should have smaller darknet footprints and, thus, lower Index ratings.

“Our approach is a key factor in a complete information security program,” said Turnage. “A complete program incorporates the analysis and monitoring of darknet data, allowing organizations to quickly detect security deficiencies and alleviate any damage prior to the misuse of their compromised data.”

The complete Black Hat 2017 Darknet Index will be released for public download at on Friday, July 27, but will be available to all Black Hat exhibitors and attendees at OWL Cybersecurity’s booth, 973 in the Business Hall, during the conference.

About OWL Cybersecurity
OWL Cybersecurity is based in Denver, Colorado and provides darknet threat intelligence data and services to allow companies and organizations to understand and mitigate their own digital risks. OWL Cybersecurity’s data platform allows companies to see in real-time the theft, breach, or other compromise of their proprietary data on the darknet, thus allowing them to both mitigate damage prior to the information being misused and to highlight gaps in their cybersecurity perimeter. This database is believed to be the largest database of darknet content available to commercial users. OWL Cybersecurity complements this with a full range of cybersecurity consulting services, including security assessments, penetration testing, application and code review, incident response, and digital forensics. For more information, visit



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