The Hidden Reality of the Deep Web

Radical anonymity does matter. One such system is Tor, named for its many encryption layers. Google cannot index the Deep Web, but Tor, a decentralized network, can. Private surfing requires just the free Tor browser.

In the late 1990s, two US Department of Defense research organizations built an anonymous, encrypted network for American spies. Only the least knowledgeable internet users would know such a system exists. Despite failing to achieve the clandestine purpose, a group of academics founded a foundation to defend the privacy and anonymity of human rights and other activists.

“The dark web is where criminals and cybercriminals resort to malware, phishing schemes, and ransomware. Always use strong passwords, keep your software and hardware up to date, and avoid giving out personal information or going to shady websites. To effectively battle cybercrime on the dark web and bring those responsible to jail, governments and law enforcement must collaborate” says our cybersecurity expert.

Infuriatingly Unclear Complicacies

There are presently over 65,000 distinct Onion sites functioning on the Tor network. In 2018, computer security firm Hyperion Gray analyzed 10% of these sites’ attributes. They discovered that online markets, marketplaces, file and picture storage services, and discussion forums were the most common forms of online communities.

There are over twice as many legitimate Onion sites as total dark web domains. Many apps, especially those that facilitate communication, sanctioned by free societies. Research firm Terbium Laboratories surveyed 400 individuals at random in 2016.

The dark web’s anonymity and isolation shield users from harsh governments and aggressive marketing, but it also attracts criminals. Drug trafficking, pornography, and child abuse are frequent illegal activities. These sites spread the ideas of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups.

Satoshi Nakamoto, a cryptography expert who cracked passwords, launched Bitcoin 10 years ago.

Identity theft, credit card fraud, and prescription drug fraud are second only to illicit drugs. Terbium Labs has also blacklisted over 200 sites, most of which appear to be marketplaces (more than 75 percent)—Bitcoin and Monero, two major cryptocurrencies, support the networks of a handful.

In the cybercrime industry, several sites provide services like virus distribution, DDoS assaults, and hacking for hire. They sell a variety of items, including sexually explicit fakes and materials.

Governments and international monetary institutions should also be concerned about the proliferation and severity of criminal activities on the dark web. Nonetheless, the percentage of global commerce conducted on the dark web is negligible compare to illegal international trade. Bitcoin transactions on the dark web also increased from about $250 million in 2012 to $872 million in 2018, rendering to a report by the renowned crypto-payment analytic firm Chainalysis.

Achieving Mastery Over the Intangible

Law enforcement and regulatory organizations must balance liberalism with the dark web’s greatest misdeeds in the information age.

During the past several years, the international public has made significant headway in fixing these challenges by freeing up information, enhancing law enforcement’s technical capacity to shut down major unlawful markets, and regulating Bitcoin transactions.

The dark web’s global reach requires global government intervention. Law enforcement and banks must work together to curb dark web crime.

19 law enforcement agencies identified 247 high-value targets and shared operational intelligence with Interpol and the EU. Thankfully, the group has shut down nearly fifty unlawful dark websites this year, including Valhalla and Wall Street Market drug marketplaces.

The FBI, among others, has boosted spending due to dark web crime (FBI). The FBI’s network nodes expose illicit Tor-based websites’ identities and locations.

The FBI’s first major step was shutting down “Silk Road 2.0” in 2014. Around 100,000 users benefited from thousands of drug traffickers and other illicit merchants over the site’s 2.5-year lifetime.

Reasons for Stricter Restrictions

At the 2018 G20 Summit, international leaders urged regulators to evaluate their cryptocurrency client identification, money laundering, and terrorism funding policies. However, in June 2019, the Financial Action Task Force advised bitcoin transfer providers to verify sender and receiver identities.

While the crypto exchange, wallet, and payment facilitator ecosystem is still young and not ready for banking sector-like laws, authorities should start setting the basis for tighter monitoring.

A Constant Balancing Act

Authoritarian nations will keep trying to shut down the black web because it aids dissidents and activists, threatening their legitimacy. To combat dark web crime in free democracies, supervisors and law enforcement must utilize more advanced methods without sacrificing anonymity.

Learn More: The Impact of Technology on our Daily Lives