Now it's a darknet marketplace that hopes a bug bounty scheme can improve security for its clientele.

To keep its customers out of trouble, Hansa, a popular darknet marketplace for selling illicit goods, is following legitimate businesses by paying researchers for reporting security flaws.

It is one of many darknet marketplaces seeking to meet demand for anonymous trading once offered by fallen drugs bazaar Silk Road. With its buyers and sellers likely to be of interest to law-enforcement agencies as well as hackers, Hansa announced on Reddit last week that it had launched a bitcoin bug bounty to keep clients safe.

How does internet technology change the reality of what humans do? In this book, Jamie Bartlett explores some of the internet's wilder shores in search of an answer.

Bug bounties are gaining in popularity in the world of legitimate business as a means of improving product security.

Google has operated its bug bounties for six years, and more conventional organizations, including some automakers, airlines, and the US Department of Defense, are now using them to attract bug reports, often through bounty programs run by Bugcrowd and HackerOne.

For Hansa, being an arena where anonymity is prized and exposure can lead to jail time, the highest value rewards are for bugs that could result in users being identified.

Hansa's operators say they will offer 10BTC for any bugs that could "severely disrupt" Hansa's integrity in a way that would expose the IP address, or personal information of a user or seller. After last month's spike in the value of bitcoin, this sum is greater than $10,000.

Less critical bugs are valued at 1BTC each, while simple "display bugs or unintended behavior" will earn researchers 0.05BTC.

CyberScoop, which first reported the new bug bounty, notes that Hansa is responsible for about $3m in trade. The hidden website launched the bounty following reports of a bug on AlphaBay, another post-Silk Road marketplace, that exposed private messages containing user names and delivery addresses. According to CyberScoop, Hansa has already received reports of non-critical bugs.


Despite Hansa's intention to improve its own measures, security and privacy researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis told CyberScoop that the bounty is unlikely to achieve much for darknet markets.

"The problems pervading onions [the nickname for websites accessed on the Tor network] are caused by bad assumptions at the software design level, the reliance on web technologies designed for an internet without consideration for privacy," Lewis said.

"Bug bounties are only a patch. What we really need are new privacy-oriented software stacks, servers, blog platforms."

Author : Liam Tung

Source : zdnet.com

Categorized in Deep Web

Nothing feels more 90s than the dark web.

If you remember when Ask Jeeves was more of a household name than Google, you might be pleased to discover that an aesthetically primitive, nostalgically crude form of the Internet exists today.

The dark web, a.k.a. Tor Browser, holds one main draw, which is also its greatest fault: It allows you to search the Internet anonymously. This means you can also purchase things anonymously, and that's why people like it. It has become the premiere cyber black market.

It offers a flurry of drugs, underage pornography, guns, and even hirable assassins that have gotten both patrons and salesmen into legal quicksand.

Indeed, being a cyber Amsterdam isn't all that it's cracked up to be. In 2015, a local man admitted to supplying a drug ring with heroin and fentanyl, essentially heroin on heroin, through purchases made through the dark web.

The dark web itself is actually not of great concern to local police. Portland Police admit that they are not actively paying attention to people who simply visit the dark web, even if they click on links that could end in an illegal purchase. It's more likely that the dark web will lead to an arrest if it is explicitly relevant to an uninvolved case.

"In terms of dark web-related cases we intersect with, we're not seeing an increase, but we're starting to see cases," says Captain Mark Kruger from the Police Bureau's Drugs and Vice Division. "But we don't proactively instigate dark web investigations. Mostly what we're doing is looking at crimes that occur and if there's an intersection with the dark web, we might follow up on that investigation."

Perhaps the largest misconception of the dark web is that it's some anomaly like a virtual drug dealer, and one can only access it through knowing cool people or going to the right parties. Yet, it doesn't take being a mole person to gain access. All one has to do is download a program called Tor Browser. You can Google it and the process takes about as long as it does to get Spotify.

And that's what I did. I entered the dark web, and I can assure you that I've thought about putting black tape over my laptop camera ever since.

Immediately after downloading Tor Browser, you are reminded of simpler times. You bare witness to a crude, primitive pale green search engine. After typing anything, the search engine that takes over is called Duck Duck Go.

From here, you witness the Internet as you know it reflected in a funhouse mirror. Essentially, all of the sites you frequent have a Tor equivalent. For instance, there's a "Hidden Wiki" as opposed to Wikipedia, which is a great place to find categorical links for common black market searches, such as: Marketplace drugs, Marketplace commercial services, "erotic jailbait" and blogs.


I click on a link to the People's Drug Store. It offers a quarter gram of #4 heroin for $55 (mind you, quarter is spelled wrong), $37 for a quarter gram of crack cocaine and two MDMA capsules for $25. The drugs are displayed like specials you might see on a happy hour menu.

Meanwhile on Brainmagic, a site specializing in psychedelics, ten tabs of acid are marketed at $100.

Unfortunately, the growing popularity of online drug retailers correlates with the increasing fragility of dark web privacy. Too often, people think they're smarter than the system.

They're not.

According to Motherboard, undercover FBI agents stalked online forums looking for commenters who might have suggested possessing ties to the founders of the Silk Road, the Dark Web's former largest black market.

Eventually, the Silk Road founder was caught promoting his business in a Silk Road chat room and subsequently had his location traced. Silkroad 2.0 has emerged in its stead.

Commercial Services

The dark underbelly of the already-dark web offers underage pornography, hitmen, and hackers who will tinker with your ex's Facebook account for a reasonable sum of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is the official dark web currency, distinguishing it as its own sovereign nation. If the word "Bitcoin" rings a bell, you've probably seen it on a Yelp checklist. And no—no restaurant in Portland will accept Bitcoin.

"Erotic jailbait"

Sprint back to the Hidden Wiki and surprisingly, you'll find that underage pornography and sex chatrooms don't also fit under the "commercial services" category. These links are simply called "erotic jailbait."

In early 2016, the FBI cracked down and caught 1,500 people looking at child pornography on the dark web.

The dark web also specializes in offering services to help people cheat on their spouses.


Having a Facebook account on the dark web seems like an oxymoron considering social media often equals self-marketing. However, Facebook is into it. The social media giant has opted to work with Tor software in creating a Tor version of their website, so that some users can bask in increased privacy. But even Facebook admits that when you login, the service can still identify you, which hints at a somewhat aimless effort on their part.

Twitter also has a lost twin, and its bird icon is perched within the trenches of the dark web. But all you're going to find on the Tor version of Twitter is neo-Nazis. The hashtag #daywithoutjews is visibly utilized by AdolfHitler1. This is especially disturbing as it suggests "AdolfHitler" was already taken as a username.

Overall, I wouldn't wish the dark web on my worst enemies. I mainly say this in reaction to a pop-up ad that occurred as I clicked on a drug website that warned me that my privacy may be breached. Just a week later, my Mac browser was 10x slower, and similar to when grandma falls or grandpa has a stroke, I knew my five-and-a-half-year-old computer's days were numbered.

But if you're looking for an excuse to splurge on a new Macbook Pro, the dark web may be just the thing. It feels like Adobe Flash if it had an empire.

Source : wweek.com

Categorized in Deep Web

How to search the Dark Web

What do freedom fighters, unscrupulous hackers, and opportunistic tycoons have in common? They all use the Dark Web, and they all want traffic.

Though the Dark Web can be a haven for illicit activity, the encrypted internet is also home to innovative startups and creative technologists. There's also a ton of fascinating, and legal, content on the Dark Web, including Facebook's Dark Web site, The New Yorker's source protection site Strongbox, and tons and tons of cats.

Dark Web sites, like those in this list, require the Tor browser to access, but just like the clearnet, thousands of sites are indexed by and accessed using search engines. Some search engines, like Grams and Helix, have slick design. Others, like Torch, are bare bones and return a variety of URLs, some legal and useful, some broken, some clearly illicit.

This is a list of the most useful, popular, and interesting Dark Web search engines.

Before you hop on Tor and begin poking around, novices and experts alike should exercise care and caution when visiting the Dark Web. Though many of these sites return benign content, much of the Dark Web is NSFW. TechRepublic does not condone illegal or unethical activity. Offensive material can sometimes be just a click away. Browse at your own risk. Never break the law. Use the Dark Web safely, and for legal purposes only.

Source : http://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/gallery-the-top-dark-web-search-engines/

Categorized in Search Engine

A dark web vendor is reportedly selling millions of decrypted Gmail and Yahoo accounts in an unspecified underground marketplace. Over 20 million Gmail accounts and five million Yahoo accounts from previous massive data breaches are now reportedly up for sale.

A dark web vendor going by the name "SunTzu583", who has previously also allegedly listed over one million decrypted Gmail and Yahoo accounts on the dark web, now appears to have ramped up his efforts.

According to a HackRead report, in separate listings, the cybercriminal is allegedly offering 4,928,888 and 21,800,969 Gmail accounts, of which the latter has been listed for $450 (0.4673 Bitcoins). While the first listing includes email addresses and clear text passwords, 75% of the second listing allegedly contains decrypted passwords and 25% hashed passwords.

The Gmail data reportedly corresponds to those stolen in previous breaches, including the Nulled.cr hack and the Dropbox data breach.

The cybercriminal is also allegedly selling 5,741,802 Yahoo accounts for $250 (0.2532 Bitcoins). Most of the accounts listed were allegedly disabled and appear to have been stolen from MySpace, Adobe and LinkedIn data breaches.

For both the Gmail and Yahoo accounts, the dark web vendor claims that not all the email and password combinations work directly, warning potential buyers to not expect them to match in all cases.

The data has reportedly been matched against those on popular data breach notification platforms such as Have I Been Pwned and Hacked-DB. However, the data has not been independently verified by IBTimes UK.

How to keep your data safe

Cybercrime ramped up to alarming levels last year, which also saw a slew of massive cyberattacks. Those concerned about keeping their accounts and data safe should incorporate safe security practices. In the event of a breach, or even a potential one, it is recommended that passwords be changed immediately. It's also essential that you not reuse passwords, instead use unique passwords for each of your accounts.

Author : Ashok
Source : https://www.yahoo.com/news/over-20-million-gmail-5-091238421.html

Categorized in Deep Web

Shrouded online websites, black markets and hidden content are often referred to as the “deep web” or the “dark net.” There’s naturally a lot of mystery and curiosity surrounding these portions of the Internet, hidden as they are from the average user.

Because hidden web content is so mysterious, a lot of people want to know exactly how to access the deep web. But first, we’re going to need to define what the deep web and dark net actually are, as well as what they are not.

Though many people may think it’s cool to access secretive and clandestine content that average users don’t even know exists, you may want to rethink your intentions because some of the content on the dark net is pretty awful stuff.

Think things like drugs and weapon dealing, but also child pornography and other services catering to some very deviant tastes; the dark net is not for the faint of heart and even visiting it may land you on a government watchlist or two.

On the other hand, a lot of content hosted on the deep web is incredibly mundane, as we’ll discuss in a bit. However, before we define the difference between the dark net and the deep web, let’s first discuss what you’ll need to access it.

What You Will Need to Access the Deep Web

You don’t need a secret password, an invitation from an inside member or hacking tools to access the dark net; all you need is a computer and an Internet connection. That may sound a little anticlimactic, but, as long as the proper tools are downloaded, the deep web is only seconds away to anyone who can access the regular web.

Besides this, you may want to have a few Bitcoins handy if you plan to buy anything, but be warned: even just being on the dark net may raise a few governmental eyebrows, buying something there is very likely very illegal.

Differences Between the Deep Web, the Dark Net and the Rest of the Internet

First off, let’s set one thing straight: the deep web and the dark net are not the same thing. While the two terms are often used synonymously, the dark net is where illegal things happen, while the deep web is simply all the hidden content that isn’t picked up by Google.

© abc.com

The best way to picture it, is by thinking of the entire Internet as an iceberg. As average users, we can only see the top of the iceberg, which represents the public Internet. Under the surface, there’s a massive amount of data that we can’t see.

The majority of Internet users seem to have the idea that Google is the entire Internet, while in fact it only indexes a very small part of it. To understand how this works, we first need to see how exactly Google does what it does.

How Google Indexes Websites

Before search engine technologies became what they are now, it was nearly impossible to discover a cool new website without a link (perhaps via email) or a friend who was in the know.

Today, however, we simply type a few keywords into Google and within seconds millions of links to websites pop up. Google finds all these websites by using code called bots, spiders or crawlers.

Essentially, crawlers start combing through an individual webpage. It takes notes and assigns various ranking metrics to the page to determine which keywords it should rank for.

When the crawlers are finished with the first page, they then follow every link on that page, and begin crawling the new pages as well. This process is recursive and because websites are linked with one another, Google can crawl through most of the web pages that were intended for public viewing.

© shoutmeloud.com

Crawlers are not perfect, and there is a lot of content that they simply don’t have access to. If a crawler can’t access pages or data, it can’t index the page in Google.

Then there’s a massive amount of data that crawlers can’t access. For instance, any website with gated content that first requires a user to enter login credentials isn’t going to be easily indexed by crawlers. This means that most content on social media is behind lock and key, as it should be. In addition, a lot of website data is created dynamically by using back-end databases.

The crawlers don’t have access to this content, either. Furthermore, crawlers lack access to certain pages, content, and services because of security factors. For instance, corporate networks frequently host web pages on their intranet, but they wouldn’t want the public to see those web pages.

To draw an analogy, pretend that the Google search algorithm is like an old telephone book, however, instead of serving as a directory of names, addresses and telephone numbers, Google serves as a directory for URL addresses.

Plenty of websites want to be listed in this phone book, but a fair few do not — some folks just want to keep themselves to themselves. In this analogy, those people make up the deep web.

Generally speaking, the deep web is any website, content, or service that cannot be crawled by Google, and as such, cannot be accessed via a search engine.

So if you’re school, university or place of business hosts an internal website that can’t be crawled through by Google’s spiders, that technically qualifies as one sliver of the deep web. The dark net, however, is much less pedestrian.

The Dark Net Explained

Websites and services on the dark net are a little more secretive, and often intentionally clandestine. They typically use secure browsers like Tor (the Onion Router) and entire networks of VPN tunnels to hide their presence.

Doing so helps them stay anonymous, secret and safe from the prying eyes of the general public. Services like Tor don’t only allow users to surf the web anonymously; they also allow people to host content anonymously.

One example of such a website is Silk Road: this infamous site is really nothing more than a black market in the form of an ecommerce site. People buy, sell and trade all kinds of illicit and illegal items like drugs, weapons and other unsavory services.

This type of website is probably what you were thinking of when thinking of the deep web, as it’s fairly easy on a site like Silk Road to buy and sell whatever you want, far away from the government’s eye.

Interestingly enough, Tor, was originally created as a project by the U.S. Navy. Later, the FBI infiltrated the network to crack down on illegal black market trading, child pornography and other illegal activities.

Morality and Ethics

Many times in life, it’s not whether a question whether something can be done, but whether it should be done. Such is the case with visiting the deep web and dark net.

The ugly truth is that these back alleys of the Internet are filled with some pretty disgusting content.: black markets, child pornography, sex trafficking and plenty of more run-of-the-mill seedy or sordid sites make their home there.

The first thing we need to ask ourselves is whether or not it’s appropriate to view such content. Also consider that if you don’t use the correct tools when visiting these sites, your computer might raise some red flags to the government, and consequently end up on a government’s watch list.

How to Access the Deep Web and the Dark Net

So, if all of these hidden websites are so secretive it’s impossible to find them with a search engine, how do you find them?

One of the best ways to find them is by word of mouth. Some of them are mentioned on forums and directories like Reddit and Tor threads.

Despite past infiltration by the FBI, the Tor anonymity network and the Tor browser are still fantastic tools — especially if they’re combined with a VPN tunnel for increased security.

If you don’t want to use the Tor browser, there are Tor plugins for just about every major web browser, too. The Tor network hosts a ton of hidden services that can’t be accessed using other browsers.

Final Thoughts

Before you go snooping around through the back alleys of the Internet, we’d like to repeat that you do so with caution as not only is the content itself of a dubious nature, some of it is illegal enough that you may be on the receiving end of a police visit if you’re found out.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on new releases and more.

It’s best not to venture into the dark net out of idle curiosity. That said, there are some interesting news sites and other topical content that you won’t find anywhere else. Just make sure you don’t accidentally visit a site that may make you uncomfortable.

If you exercise some common sense and stay well away from anything that looks overly suspicious, you should be fine. If you have any personal experience with visiting the dark net, let us know in the comments below, thank you for reading.

Author : Joel Tope

Source : https://www.cloudwards.net/how-to-access-the-deep-web-and-the-dark-net/

Categorized in Deep Web

“Silk Road. Circa 2013. Purchased what promised as a ‘mind-blowing’ experience. Received a Dust Buster two days later. Strangely, no complaints on my end.” — gr8head, Reddit user

I’m sitting at my desk, abandoning a lukewarm cup of tea to engage in an intense online battle with MyUni over a Friday timetable slot. A friend pops up on Facebook Messenger to confirm that she does, in fact, enjoy cooked pineapple. I search for an appropriately shocked GIF when she adds, offhandedly, “have you heard of the dark web?”

Too embarrassed to admit my ignorance, I minimise the browser and open another. A quick search on Reddit tells me that the dark web – or darknet – is not indexed by standard search engines like Google or Bing: it is a small, encrypted portion of the deep web that requires special software to operate. Wherever I search, the same terms stand out: drug dealing; money laundering; human trafficking; leaked documents. 

I roll my eyes at my humble MacBook, and dismiss this online underworld as a phenomenon lying well beyond my technical capabilities. I begin closing tabs when one thread catches my attention. I pause. “DARKNET: A STEP BY STEP GUIDE”.

Curious, I do as the guide says and download Tor, a free browser originally designed by the US military before it became open source. I hesitate before dragging the logo into my applications folder: will it open up my computer to hackers? I double click the app. My MECO2603 essays aren’t worth much anyway.

A popup appears with a loading bar. The bar snakes its way across my screen and then disappears. Tor opens.

The green-and-purple homepage looks innocuous. I copy and paste a link from Reddit into the search bar. The page loads and I choke on my tea; I’m faced with a single, disturbing image of a tentacled man brandishing a pentagram. The hitman recruitment site promises “permanent solutions to common problems”.

I quickly close the window and paste another link. It lists the IP addresses of known child pornography viewers. Another link: fake citizenship certificates. Another: a PDF file of the Anarchist’s Cookbook. Classified business information, weapons, human experiments – it’s all there. It was always right there.

Harry*, a Medical Science student at the University of Sydney, stumbled across the dark web on a coding forum when he was fourteen.

“I was browsing through and was just like, oh hey, I can buy an AK-47 for $350.”

He found himself on The Silk Road, an infamous darknet marketplace the FBI shut down in 2013. It functioned as a criminal eBay, offering everything from guns and drugs to stolen credit cards and Netflix subscriptions. He bought three cannabis seeds for $30.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get them, but I wanted the thrill of using the dark web and seeing how it works. You’re anonymous, so you don’t have the moral boundaries that you would have while dealing with someone face to face.”

The seeds took less than three weeks to arrive from the United States – faster than most of my textbook orders from the Book Depository. 

“They were packaged in a tin foil packet, like how you get tablets. You cracked it open like a Panadol. It was nicely wrapped – it looked professional,” he told me with a smirk.

A significant number of students are logging onto cryptomarkets to bypass traditional dealers and purchase drugs. We are all just one download, a quick bitcoin transfer and a few clicks away from having AusPost deliver narcotics straight to our doors.

Matt*, a Medicinal Chemistry student at UTS, was introduced to the dark web by a friend when he was sixteen and searching for a cheap source of acid. He bought a sheet of 20 tabs, and camped out by his parent’s mailbox waiting for the drugs to arrive.

“Having the drugs delivered to my house wasn’t my finest moment. I actually used my parents’ credit card too, and got caught on the bank statement. I told Dad I bought Halo.”

The LSD took just over a fortnight to travel from Switzerland to Matt’s home address, sealed in an envelope and sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard. Matt took a tab that same night to see if it was legitimate. It was.

The thought of purchasing opiates and stimulants with the click of a button is tempting, but while darknet user ratings can act as a market regulator, it is impossible to guarantee purity of character…or drug composition

Ben* bought 50 tabs of clonazolam off the internet when he was in year 9. He shared them with his mate, who became increasingly aggressive and withdrawn, until he had to be hospitalised

“[My friend] was basically a soulless husk of a person for a few days. I felt devastated that my own judgement could be completely stripped from me so suddenly. I was expelled 11 days later,” Ben wrote to me.

There is also the possibility of falling victim to an exit scam, whereby a vendor takes a large catalogue of orders before disappearing with your precious bitcoin. And you can’t exactly go to the courts over a dodgy drug deal.

Sam*, a geography student, bought MDMA and LSD in bulk – up to $7000 street worth at a time – and sold it to friends at cost price. It was an act of vigilantism against local suppliers and their generally impure products.

“We tried to minimise the risk by only buying off reputable sellers with lots of positive feedback, but we got ripped off about three times. Each instance was a few hundred dollars.”

Cyber risks aside, there is one glaringly obvious deterrent: drug possession is illegal. Students can rack up fines or face imprisonment, regardless of who their supplier is or where they conduct their business. One Engineering and Science student grew worried after making a particularly large purchase from The Silk Road.

“Despite making every effort to be safe, it’s easy to make a mistake and there are bugs everywhere,” they warned me.

“The thresholds for what is called a ‘marketable’, and worse, a ‘commercial’ quantity are surprisingly low. It certainly made me nervous when there were potentially packages linked to me sitting in a customs building somewhere full of illegal drugs.”

Before you hand over your bitcoin, put down the Guy Fawkes mask and consider the world you could be delving into. The darknet is ‘dark’ for a reason: one second you’re spinning the web, and the next it’s got you trapped.

While buying drugs off the darknet is undoubtedly exhilarating, ultimately it’s a slippery slope with no way to recover lost bitcoin and no way to undo whatever you’ve done.

I sip my tea and close the browser. Some secrets are best left hidden.

Source : http://honisoit.com/2017/03/spinning-the-dark-web/

Categorized in Deep Web

The dark web is a dangerous, depraved place where almost anything is available for sale. Here's all you need to know about the Dark Web.

1. What is the dark web?

It's a part of the internet that can't be reached with the normal tools we use, such as Google or web browsers. It's not just that it's not indexed - it's actively restricted. As well as requiring special software to get there, this means that what is accessed or found there isn't subject to any kind of regulation or oversight. It's also very hard to trace anyone who operates there. Experts talk about the dark web as a contrast to the 'surface web', which is what you and I use every day in email, social networking and web searches.

2. Anytime I hear about the dark web, it's in relation to crime. Is that a fair representation?

Most of the headlines generated about the dark web come from stories about platforms such as Silk Road, the virtual marketplace notorious for trading in weapons, drugs and hacked accounts. Hackers, especially, use the dark web to sell stolen data such as credit-card details. Drug-dealers use the dark web a lot, too. That said, there are some arguments in favour of the privacy benefits that non-traceable routes associated with the dark web bring. Some journalists and political activists say that they rely on such methods to communicate in oppressive regimes.

3. Is this where a lot of the child-abuse material, also referred to as child pornography, is traded?

Authorities say that while there is child-abuse material to be found on the dark web, much of the worst serial activity is restricted to even more private peer-to-peer networks.

4. Can I or my family just land there by mistake?

No. Typically, you need special software or tools to access it. One of the most common tools used is The Onion Router, or Tor. This creates an encrypted layer between your activity and the surface web, including any tracking software that might try to follow you there. It's easy to download and launch, but slows your whole system down.

5. I sometimes hear reference to the 'deep web'. Is that the same as the dark web?

No. The deep web is everything that sits beneath the surface web, including the dark web. For example, there are billions and billions of gigabytes of data on the internet that, while not restricted, you can't pull up just by doing a Google search because they don't each have an individual web link. An example would be the website of the Courts Service. If you're looking for details on a case, you can enter Highcourtsearch.courts.ie and input details into its search box. But if you do a Google search for the same case, it won't come up. That case is part of the deep web because it's not indexed other than in its own siloed website. But it's still accessible by anyone with ordinary browsing materials.

By comparison, the dark web is a part of the deep web that is deliberately restricted and shut off unless you have specific tools (such as Tor) to get in.

Related Post : 

6. What are the proportions of what makes up content material on the dark web?

A recent study by Equifax estimated that file-sharing (29pc) and leaked data (28pc) make up a clear majority of the activity on the dark web. Financial fraud (12pc) comes next, while drugs (4pc) and pornography (3pc) make up a small proportion.

How easy is it for the guards to track activity on the dark web?

It's possible to access marketplaces and see activity, but much harder to track individuals. Irish police won't say much about their activity around the dark web, but US and UK authorities are known to infiltrate marketplaces in an attempt to keep track of what is being traded.

7. How big is the dark web?

Most authoritative analysis suggests that it's not nearly as big as sometimes reported. While there are well over a billion websites on the regular (surface) web, there are estimated to be less than 100,000 sites on the dark web. The Tor Project, which runs Tor, estimates that around 1.5pc of its activity is related to dark web sites. It also recently put its number of daily users at around two million. That's a tiny number of people, in relative terms.

Author : Adrian Weckler

Source : http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/news/seven-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-dark-web-35503182.html

Categorized in Deep Web

BELIEVE it or not, there are parts of the internet that Google can’t reach and users can operate anonymously.

The dark web is made up of websites hidden from search engines that can only be accessed using special software.

The dark web is a network of websites that are not indexed by search engines such as Google

The dark web is used by many people for different things but it’s infamously used by criminals to hide illegal activity online.

So what exactly is the dark web, where did it come from and how does it work?

What is the dark web?

The internet is actually made up of three different layers: the surface web, the deep web and the dark web.

The top layer, the surface web, are web pages that show up using search engines such as Google – like The Sun website that you’re looking at right now.

The deep web are web pages that search engines can’t access and are therefore hidden, accessed via passwords and authorisation. Any time you log into an account you’re accessing deep web content that won’t show up on a search engine. For example, work intranets, password-protected areas of online banking and draft blog posts are all stored on the deep web.

This means that if someone was to Google your name, your banking information or Amazon wishlist won’t show up in the results.

The dark web is a network of untraceable online activity and websites on the internet. They cannot be found using search engines and to access them you need to use specific software, configurations or have authorisation. They are used by lots of different people to keep their web activity hidden.

Where did the dark web come from?

The dark web was actually created by the US government to allow spies to exchange information completely anonymously.

US military researchers developed the technology, known as Tor (The Onion Router) in the mid 1990s and released it into the public domain for everyone to use.

The reason was so that they could stay anonymous – it would be harder to distinguish the government’s messages between spies if thousands of other people were using the same system for tots of different things. Tor now hosts roughly 30,000 hidden sites.

It’s called The Onion Router because it uses the technique of onion routing – making websites anonymous through layers of encryption.

Most websites are also hosted on the .onion domain.

Users of the dark web access websites using special browsers and software

Users of the dark web access websites using special browsers and software

How does the dark web work?

The best explanation so far has been published by Daniel Prince, Associate Director Security at Lancaster University, on website The Conversation.

Mr Prince says: “So just for a minute imagine that the whole internet is a forest – a vast expanse of luscious green as far as the eye can see. And in the forest are well worn paths – to get from A to B.

“Think of these paths as popular search engines – like Google – allowing you as the user the option to essentially see the wood from the trees and be connected. But away from these paths – and away from Google – the trees of the forest mask your vision.

“Off the paths it is almost impossible to find anything – unless you know what you’re looking for – so it feels a bit like a treasure hunt. Because really the only way to find anything in this vast forest is to be told where to look.

“This is how the dark web works – and it is essentially the name given to all the hidden places on the internet.

“Just like the forest, the dark web hides things well – it hides actions and it hides identities. The dark web also prevents people from knowing who you are, what you are doing and where you are doing it.”

One of the criminal uses of the dark web is to buy and sell drugs
One of the criminal uses of the dark web is to buy and sell drugs

Who uses the dark web and why?

The dark web is used by all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons  – but it’s not surprising that it’s used for illegal activity.

A study by the University of Portsmouth in 2014 found that the most wanted type of content on Tor was child porn, followed by black markets for goods such as drugs, personal details and even guns.

This type of site is regularly busted by police, who compromise them by distributing viruses and malware to users.

The dark web is also used for hiding online activity related to finance, extremism, arms, hacking, abuse and fraud.

However, for others the dark web has positive uses. For example, it can be used to avoid a national firewall, such as China, where users are normally blocked from accessing hidden sites.

It can also be used as a tool for whistleblowing – infamous website WikiLeaks is hosted on the dark web, allowing whistleblowers to anonymously upload classified information to the press.

Do police ever catch people using the dark web?

Yes – although using the dark web makes it easier to evade detection but governments around the world are working to index, sort and catalogue the dark web as well as monitor it as much as they can. The UK government  have a dedicated cybercrime unit to tackle the dark web with a focus on taking down serious crime rings and child porn.

Just earlier this year police caught Richard Huckle ‘Britain’s worst-ever paedophile’ by secretly taking over a dark web site dedicated to child abuse.

Richard Huckle was handed 22 life sentences after pleading guilty to 71 child sex offences
Richard Huckle was handed 22 life sentences after pleading guilty to 71 child sex offences

The online network was made up of over 45,000 people who swapped sickening videos and images of children on a dark-web forum which was only accessible through a specially encrypted browser.

Another take-down, called Operation Onymous, revealed over 400 “hidden services” in an effort by seventeen different countries co-ordinated by Europol and the FBI.

The operation led to hundreds of pounds worth of Bitcoin being seized and 17 arrests – but only one person was identified and taken into custody.

Who is Ross Ulbricht?

Ross Ulbricht was the man behind Silk Road, the internet’s biggest market for illegal drugs – which was hosted on the dark web.

Silk Road was reportedly worth $34.5m and had nearly one million anonymous customers. On Silk Road you could buy drugs, services (such as hacking into Facebook accounts), pirated content, fakes passports and more. You could even check the reviews and star ratings of each dealer left by other customers.

Ulbricht is in prison in New York after he was unmasked as the man behind dark web drugs emporium Silk Road
Ulbricht is in prison in New York after he was unmasked as the man behind dark web drugs emporium Silk Road

Ulbricht was caught by the FBI in 2013, who shut down Silk Road and convicted him of money laundering, computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic fraudulent identity documents and conspiracy to traffic narcotics in February 2015. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Ulbricht will also be tried for procuring murder – FBI indictments claimed he ordered two hitmen to kill people he thought would expose the identity of his clients.

Author : Jennifer Hale

Source : https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2054243/dark-web-ross-ulbricht-drugs-guns-to-contract-killers-encrypted-network/

Categorized in Deep Web

Up to 80% of the Internet is said to be hidden in the so-called "deep web," which can be accessed using special search systems, like the Tor browser. Often, the "deep web" is associated with criminal activities, like firearms sales and drug trafficking.

The deep web is a kind of mysterious place where one can find everything that has been published on the Internet, but can't be accessed via traditional search engines. In other words, it is collection of websites that are publicly visible, but hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them.

"There are various services within this universe. Some are used to protect delivered information, conceal identities or ensure anonymity," IT expert and CEO of TIB company Maximiliano Alonzo explained in an interview with Sputnik Mundo.

At the same time, Alonzo noted that the deep web can be used both — in positive and negative ways.

"The deep web is like a scalpel: in the hands of a doctor it can save lives, but in the hands of a criminal, it can kill. So everything depends on its use. There are certain countries in which citizens have a limited access to the Internet, and the deep web is for them an alternative way to receive information," Alonzo explained.

The concept of a deep web appeared with the occurrence of the first search engines. All data that can't be accessed by Google is available via special search systems, like the Tor browser, which makes it impossible to trace the identity or address of its users.

"If a user tries to access a certain web site, his IP address gets registered in the system and makes it possible to identify the country, the city and even the identity of the user. The Tor system can change a person's data and make its access anonymous," the expert explained.

The deep web contains any kind of information and is often associated with criminal activities (like firearms and drug trafficking as well as personal data sales).

For instance, the sales of a fentanyl drug caused a wave of deaths and were ultimately prohibited by one of the Dark Web marketplaces.

Earlier, it was also reported that hackers sold on the deep web hundreds of millions of personal passwords from websites such as LinkedIn, MySpace, Tumblr, Fling.com, and VK.com.

Source  : https://sputniknews.com/science/201702181050826186-deep-dark-web-mysterious-universe/

Categorized in Deep Web

THE MYSTERIOUS CORNER of the Internet known as the Dark Web is designed to defy all attempts to identify its inhabitants. But one group of researchers has attempted to shed new light on what those users are doing under the cover of anonymity. Their findings indicate that an overwhelming majority of their traffic is driven by the Dark Web’s darkest activity: the sexual abuse of children.

At the Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg, Germany today, University of Portsmouth computer science researcher Gareth Owen will present the results of a six-month probe of the web’s collection of Tor hidden services, which include the stealthy websites that make up the largest chunk of the Dark Web. The study paints an ugly portrait of that Internet underground: drug forums and contraband markets are the largest single category of sites hidden under Tor’s protection, but traffic to them is dwarfed by visits to child abuse sites. More than four out of five Tor hidden services site visits were to online destinations with pedophilia materials, according to Owen’s study. That’s over five times as many as any of the other categories of content that he and his researchers found in their Dark Web survey, such as gambling, bitcoin-related sites or anonymous whistle-blowing.

The researchers’ disturbing statistics could raise doubts among even the staunchest defenders of the Dark Web as a haven for privacy. “Before we did this study, it was certainly my view that the dark net is a good thing,” says Owen. “But it’s hampering the rights of children and creating a place where pedophiles can act with impunity.”

“Before we did this study, it was certainly my view that the dark net is a good thing.”

Precisely measuring anything on the Dark Web isn’t easy, and the study’s findings leave some room for dispute. The creators of Tor known as the Tor Project responded to a request for comment from WIRED with a list of alternative factors that could have skewed its results. Law enforcement and anti-abuse groups patrol pedophilia Dark Web sites to measure and track them, for instance, which can count as a “visit.” In some cases, hackers may have launched denial of service attacks against the sites with the aim of taking them offline with a flood of fraudulent visits. Unstable sites that frequently go offline might generate more visit counts. And sites visited through the tool Tor2Web, which is designed to make Tor hidden services more accessible to non-anonymous users, would be underrepresented. All those factors might artificially inflate the number of visits to child abuse sites measured by the University of Portsmouth researchers.1

“We do not know the cause of the high hit count [to child abuse sites] and cannot say with any certainty that it corresponds with humans,” Owen admitted in a response to the Tor Project shared with WIRED, adding that “caution is advised” when drawing conclusions about the study’s results.

Tor executive director Roger Dingledine followed up in a statement to WIRED pointing out that Tor hidden services represent only 2 percent of total traffic over Tor’s anonymizing network. He defended Tor hidden services’ privacy features. “There are important uses for hidden services, such as when human rights activists use them to access Facebook or to blog anonymously,” he wrote, referring to Facebook’s launch of its own hidden service in October. “These uses for hidden services are new and have great potential.”

Here’s how the Portsmouth University study worked: From March until September of this year, the research group ran 40 “relay” computers in the Tor network, the collection of thousands of volunteer machines that bounce users’ encrypted traffic through hops around the world to obscure its origin and destination. These relays allowed them to assemble an unprecedented collection of data about the total number of Tor hidden services online—about 45,000 at any given time—and how much traffic flowed to them. They then used a custom web-crawling program to visit each of the sites they’d found and classify them by content.

The researchers found that a majority of Tor hidden service traffic—the traffic to the 40 most visited sites, in fact—were actually communications from “botnet” computers infected with malware seeking instructions from a hacker-controlled server running Tor. Most of those malware control servers were offline, remnants of defunct malware schemes like the Skynet botnet whose alleged operator was arrested last year.

But take out that automated malware traffic, and 83 percent of the remaining visits to Tor hidden service websites sought sites that Owen’s team classified as related to child abuse. Most of the sites were so explicit as to include the prefix “pedo” in their name. (Owen asked that WIRED not name the sites for fear of driving more visitors to them.) The researchers’ automated web crawler downloaded only text, not pictures, to avoid any illegal possession of child pornographic images or video. “It came as a huge shock to us,” Owen says of his findings. “I don’t think anyone imagined it was on this scale.”

Despite their popularity on the Tor network, child abuse sites represent only about 2 percent of Tor hidden service websites—just a small number of pedophilia sites account for the majority of Dark Web http traffic, according to the study. Drug-related sites and markets like the now-defunct Silk Road 2, Agora or Evolution represented a total of about 24 percent of the sites measured in the study, by contrast. But visits to those sites accounted for only about 5 percent of site requests on the Tor network, by the researchers’ count. Whistleblower sites like SecureDrop and Globaleaks, which allow anonymous users to upload sensitive documents to news organizations, accounted for 5 percent of Tor hidden service sites, but less than a tenth of a percent of site visits.

The study also found that the vast majority of Tor hidden services persist online for only a matter of days or weeks. Less than one in six of the hidden services that was online when Owen’s study began remained online at the end of it. Since the study only attempted to classify sites by content at the end of its six month probe, Tor director Roger Dingledine points out that it could over-represent child abuse sites that remained online longer than other types of sites. “[The study] could either show a lot of people visiting abuse-related hidden services, or it could simply show that abuse-related hidden services are more long-lived than others,” he writes. “We can’t tell from the data.”

The Study Raises the Question: How Dark Is The Dark Web?

Other defenders of the Tor network’s importance as an alternative to the public, privacy-threatened Web will no doubt bristle at Owen’s findings. But even aside from the Tor Project’s arguments about why the study’s findings may be skewed, its results don’t necessarily suggest that Tor is overwhelmingly used for child abuse. What they may instead show is that Tor users who seek child abuse materials use Tor much more often and visit sites much more frequently than those seeking to buy drugs or leak sensitive documents to a journalist.

Nonetheless, the study raises new questions about the darkest subcultures of the Dark Web and law enforcement’s response to them. In November, the FBI and Europol staged a massive bust of Tor hidden services that included dozens of drug and money laundering sites, including three of the six most popular anonymous online drug markets. The takedowns occurred after Owen’s study concluded, so he doesn’t know which of the pedophilia sites he measured may have been caught in that dragnet. None of the site takedowns trumpeted in the FBI and Europol press releases mentioned pedophilia sites, nor did an analysis of the seizures by security researcher Nik Cubrilovic later that month.

“It came as a huge shock to us. I don’t think anyone imagined it was on this scale.”

In his Chaos Computer Congress talk, Owen also plans to present methods that could be used to block access to certain Tor hidden services. A certain number of carefully configured Tor relays, he says, could be used to alter the “distributed hash table” that acts as a directory for Tor hidden services. That method could block access to a child abuse hidden service, for instance, though Owen says it would require 18 new relays to be added to the Tor network to block any single site. And he was careful to note that he’s merely introducing the possibility of that controversial blocking measure, not actually suggesting it. One of Tor’s central purposes, after all, is to evade censorship, not enable it.

The study could nonetheless lead to difficult questions for the Tor support community. And it could also dramatically shift the larger public conversation around the Dark Web. Law enforcement officials and politicians including New York Senator Chuck Schumer have railed against the use of Tor to enable online drug sales on a mass scale, with little mention of child abuse. Owen’s study is a reminder that criminal content is hiding in the shadows of the Internet that make drug sales look harmless by comparison—and whose consumers may be more active than anyone imagined.

1Updated 12/30/2014 5:25 EST to add more of the Tor Project’s explanations of possible inaccuracies in the study’s count of visits to child abuse sites.


Source : https://www.wired.com/2014/12/80-percent-dark-web-visits-relate-pedophilia-study-finds/

Categorized in Deep Web


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.