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Thursday, 06 April 2017 17:07

Dark web users unmasked: Trackers could reveal the identities of criminals who think they’re hidden

By: 
  • Around 20 per cent of dark web pages use pictures and data from regular sites
  • Tracking scripts set up to analyse browsing behaviour are on 27% of dark pages
  • This may allow 'surface' sites like Google to track the behaviour of criminals

Criminals using the dark web to buy drugs and even hire hit men could be unmasked.

That's because the dark web - a secret network that requires specialist software to gain access - is rife with trackers that could be used to follow the browsing behaviour of its members.

Researchers reported that internet companies such as Google could track the behaviour of dark web users by exploiting these privacy faults.Scroll down for video 

Criminals using the dark web to buy drugs and even hire hit men could be unmasked, according to new research

Scientists found serious privacy faults when they investigated the Tor network, a dark web service that uses encryption to hide the identity of its users.

'The dark web is maybe not as dark as it seems,' Iskander Sanchez-Rola at the University of Deusto, Spain, who led the investigation, told New Scientist.

They analysed more than 1.5 million deep web pages as part of their investigation. 

The team found connections between the dark web and regular internet browsers, known as surface browsers.

They found that more than 20 per cent of of dark web pages included pictures and documents that originated on surface websites.

Companies that own these page elements can track when they are accessed by someone on the internet.

This could give internet companies a window into hidden criminal activity.

The researchers said that Google could keep tabs on up to 13 per cent of dark web domains if they made use of this privacy fault.

They also found that tracking scripts set up to analyse browsing behaviour are present on 27 per cent of dark web pages.And almost 43 per cent of this software originates from Google, they said.

The Silk Road: The Deep Web has existed for more than a decade but came under the spotlight last month after police shutdown the Silk Road website - the online marketplace dubbed the 'eBay of drugs - and arrested its creator
The Silk Road: The Deep Web has existed for more than a decade but came under the spotlight last month after police shutdown the Silk Road website - the online marketplace dubbed the 'eBay of drugs - and arrested its creator

They added that if a hidden and surface web page are using the same tracking scripts, it is possible for anyone to follow a user's browsing behaviour.

And when a dark web user moves from the dark web to a normal web page, it may be possible to reveal their identity.The links between the surface and dark web could also reveal the IP addresses of people using Tor services. 

'This research has demonstrated for the first time how much of the dark web is intrinsically linked to the surface or clear web,' security researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis said to New Scientist.

She has developed software called OnionScan, which analyses the dark web to search for faults in privacy.Up to 35 per cent of dark web servers could be exploited to reveal the identity of their users, she said.

Source : dailymail.co.uk

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