Dark Web Explained: Experts Reveal Secrets of the Internet's Seedy Underbelly - Dexerto

Dark Web Explained: Experts Reveal Secrets of the Internet’s Seedy Underbelly – Dexerto

The dark web isn’t as scary as it sounds, and it’s a fascinating place to try to understand. We spoke to researchers monitoring a popular use: crime.

When people talk about the dark web, it’s still one of the few things online that has an air of mystery about it. A small portion of the deep web is dubbed the dark web due to its habit of hosting illicit materials and criminal activity.

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You have to understand that neither the dark nor the deep web is particularly complex. The web as we know it is divided into segments, interconnected to form the titular web.

What is the deep web?

The deep web is the bits of the web that search engines don’t surface or index. This can be anything from something as simple as the Wayback Machines millions of archived links to people who just don’t bother doing the work to get their site indexed in Google.

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This is where people get confused. The deep web can be accessed from a regular browser, you may need to know the link.

What is the dark web?

The dark web, however, is built on darknet systems. These mask necessary connections until you use a browser equipped to view the pages. This could be Tor or something similar. Often obscure web links will be .onion links.

Probably one of the most famous dark sites is Silk Road. Run by Ross Ulbricht, who transitioned to Dread Pirate Roberts, it has racked up millions in sales through the use of cryptocurrency to sell illicit drugs and materials online.

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However, since its dissolution, the dark web has continued to be rife with criminal activity. Monitoring this is a tricky task, apparently, the people who manage the sites have adapted to a new method.

Dark web criminals are using new tactics to evade the law

This new method involves closing the store and simply opening a new site. The problem places like Silk Road or AlphaBay have run into is that they have become too big and noisy. Those who operate these illicit shops simply set up smaller shops and abandon them as soon as the sites get too hot or too popular.

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Stolen information sold expensively online

A recent report lists all the average prices of materials that can be purchased through the dark web. This includes credit cards with a balance of up to $5,000 that sell for an average of $110.

Bank logins are $40, while cryptocurrency accounts could sell for as little as $20, at $2650. These accounts don’t automatically grant you cash, but could be used to trade without tracing it back to yourself.

Airbnb accounts have also been sold, with prices averaging $300. Of course, counterfeit passports and IDs range from $4,000 to a US driver’s license for just $150.

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The report goes into detail on the year-over-year price differences and even points out that law enforcement agencies that have stepped up the shutdowns have done little to discourage availability. It has been found that there is a decrease in prices more often than not.

Dark Web Price Index reports the changes taking place online

All of this information comes from the latest Dark Web Price Index, a report that tracks everything sold via the dark web. Compiled by Privacy Affairs, we spoke to content manager Veronika Biliavska, who revealed how they manage to get this information.

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The stats and pricing are incredibly interesting, but what’s more intriguing is how Privacy Affairs manages to keep tabs on all of these sites:

We’ve noticed that most of them are from the same vendor, so it doesn’t change much. The address has changed but if they’re selling 100 Twitter accounts for $2000, we’re pretty sure it will be the same.

Apparently, those who sell on the dark web want to stay in business and not fade into darkness. In doing so, they will end up advertising things on Telegram or on the site itself before pulling the plug.

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Who is Privacy Affairs?

Privacy Affairs is not a large cybersecurity company, but a highly invested team who recognize patterns or just get to know people by meeting them:

Our research team spent at least a few hours a day on the forum, them [kind of] you know everyone.

For example, we were tracking Pompompurin’s activity even before it became so well known. He was arrested by the FBI in March.

Pompompurin, or Conor Brain Fitzpatrick, was the owner of the Breached Forum. These forums were dedicated to hacking and selling data from breaches.

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Telegram involved in illegal activities

Telegram has also become a huge means of communication among those who want to access these parts of the web. While many drug dealers will use them, they have also come to be used by a range of groups. Privacy Affairs tells us they have a dedicated staff member on board monitoring the activity:

First, our goal is to stay up to date with the latest news, so in the event of a data breach or any significant event, we can be the first to know and inform other media.

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The dark web has learned from the mistakes of Silk Roads

The Silk Road logo on a prisonSilk Road/PXFuel

We asked for more information on how transient dark web markets are. In a capitalist world, surely there must be a fight at the top? Apparently, fear of outgrowing caused most of these attempts to fail:

The longer a market stays active, the higher the risk of getting busted by the authorities. As a result, it deliberately avoids becoming too prominent in the Dark Web market space.

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However, despite an increase in dark web activity for this type of material, Privacy Affairs is not critical of law enforcement efforts. However, Veronika believes there should be some reforms to the way they currently operate:

It highlights the need for a new and improved system to address the ever-changing landscape of the Dark Web.

The report acknowledges the importance of small steps law enforcement is taking in fighting cybercrime, but also highlights the need to start a broader conversation about the cybersecurity landscape.

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Data protection is more important than ever

Privacy Affairs wants to raise awareness of the things happening on the dark web to do with data, more than anything else. Suing drug dealers is one thing, but getting the public to understand how easy it is for your data to fall into the wrong hands is a completely different battle:

By starting this conversation, people will hopefully become more vigilant and cautious about their data, leading to increased awareness and security measures to safeguard sensitive information.

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Ultimately, the report aims to contribute positively to ongoing efforts in cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime.

Watch out for artificial intelligence, the next frontier of the dark webs

darkbert represented by an abstract ai image of a purple and black colored brainFirefly AI

Even AI is not safe from the clutches of bad guys. When asked if there were any rising trends from the dark web, Veronika cautions to be wary of chatbots and AI:

ChatGPT and OpenAI services, such as [well as] any other AI service is now the main target of hackers. Even if a person was not very attentive to their data before, it would be better to start now.

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Google and OpenAI have both started warnings against sharing sensitive information with their AI bots.

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