The realities of the dark net are very different to community expectations, says criminologist James Martin.

Drug trading on the dark net generally elicits images of sinister underworld figures, dimly lit rooms, locked doors and perilous cloak-and-dagger dealings -- a veritable "house of horrors". But according to one leading dark web researcher, the reality is quite different.

In fact, Australian criminologist James Martin believes the dark net has significant potential to promote a more responsible drug culture and lessen the violence associated with street dealing and criminal gangs.

"The conventional illicit drug trade is pretty dangerous and in the absence of a legal, well-regulated drug market, it looks like the dark net actually offers a lot of potential benefits both to users and dealers, and to the general public," he told HuffPost Australia.

The dark net is not actually all that dark."

A senior lecturer in criminology at Macquarie University, Martin will be presenting his subversive take on the online drug market at TedxMelbourne's 'Rebels, Revolutionaries & Us' next Tuesday, September 19.

So just what is the dark net, and how are people using it to buy illegal drugs?

What is the...

Surface web (or clear net) - "That's basically any part of the Internet that you can access through a search browser (i.e. it comes up in a Google search), so you're talking media websites, your Hotmail or whatever it may be."

Deep web - "Beneath the surface web, you've got the deep web. This is the vast majority of the Internet, and it's basically anything that isn't immediately accessible through a search browser, such as Intranets. It's not necessarily anything nefarious."

Dark net (or anonymous web) - "Beneath that, you've got the dark net or the TOR network... this is a different thing entirely. It's an encrypted subset of the Internet that's only accessible through a TOR browser... Once you start using this browser, you can access a whole lot of different websites that you can't access otherwise -- dot onion sites. You can also send, host and receive information without revealing your IP address, so you can't be monitored by the authorities."

Because it's almost untraceable, the dark net is used by many parts of the criminal underworld, including by terror groups and for exchanging child exploitation material, illegal firearms and stolen credit cards, but the bulk of the people on it are seeking illegal drugs.

To access the dark net, users download an encrypted web browser -- the TOR network being the most common -- which provides access to illicit websites. These sites are protected, so they won't appear in a Google search or through typing a URL into a regular web browser.

Users' data and IP addresses are encrypted, making them very difficult to trace.

But researchers actually know more about the types, quantities and price of drugs sold on the dark net than they do of physical illicit drug supply lines.

"One of the weird things about the dark net is that it's not actually all that dark," Martin said.

"These sites are publicly available and anyone can download TOR and see what they look like."

STEVECOLEIMAGES
One fifth of the illicit drugs sold on the dark net are prescription medications.

For example, we know that cannabis is the most common dark net drug in Australia, accounting for a quarter of all sales, followed by prescription drugs (20 percent) and ecstasy (16 percent). Methamphetamines such as 'ice' account for 12 percent of Australia's online drug trades, while heroin makes up just three percent.

Illicit drugs are paid for using bitcoin or another encrypted currency, and mailed through the post.

But despite this accessibility, law enforcement agencies have found it extremely difficult to crack down on the online trade.

"Conventional anti-drug operations usually revolve around things like buy-and-bust operations where you've got an uncover police officer who pretends to be a customer and once an exchange takes place then they can affect an arrest," Martin explained.

"That's a really simple but very efficient kind of police operation when you think of it from an evidence perspective.

"You've got the offender, you've got the drugs, you've got the money, and usually you've got some sort of form of surveillance as well and that makes a very compelling package that you can present in court."

But on the dark net, this kind of police operation isn't possible.

Both the communications and the financial transactions of drug deals are encrypted, and buyers and users need never meet in person.

The drugs are commonly sold in small quantities and are frequently mailed across international borders, making tracing them through the postal service both costly and impracticable.

"For a transnational policing operation to take police -- so say someone buying drugs from the UK to Australia –- that requires a lot of international police cooperation and law enforcement. It would be difficult to justify the kind of expense associated with that for small quantities of illicit drugs," Martin explained.

The criminologist has been researching the dark net drug trade since it first made news headlines with the establishment of the Silk Road in 2011.

FBI
Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht (who went by the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts) has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for creating the underground drug-trading site.

Since then, he's watched the disintegration of major drug suppliers -- most notably, Silk Road in 2013 -- as policed were able to trace them through real-world links.

But instead of the life imprisonment of Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht scaring dealers away from the dark net, large-scale syndicates have been replaced by smaller, harder-to-trace operations. Martin estimates that Australia alone has around 150 online traders.

So how can a more accessible illegal drug store where dealers operate with a large degree of impunity create a less harmful illicit drug trade?

According to Martin, there are three potential benefits: reducing the violence of a bloody drugs war; promoting safer drug-taking practices through online forums; and supplying purer drugs, with fewer potentially deadly adulterants.

The decreased potential for violence stems from the anonymity of the Internet -- not only are the dealers' locations concealed from police, they're also hidden from each other. This makes revenge killings and drive-by shootings impossible.

"What the dark net does is basically protect people from that kind of violence, because no one knows where anyone is physically located," Martin explained.

By cutting out the street dealers and other middle-men, Martin believes the online dark net trade can also reduce the involvement of organised crime in the drug trade -- "or at least change the composition of the groups involved".

This would have flow-on benefits for the wider community, but creating a less armed, less violent society.

Listen to the full interview with James Martin below.

But Martin also sees potential benefits for the users sourcing their illicit drugs on the dark net, who Martin says are generally relatively tech-savvy, affluent and well-educated -- and eager to promote a culture of harm reduction.

Despite several recent high-profile arrests and large-scale drug seizures, a recent report by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission revealed that law enforcement operations are having almost no impact on the availability, price and purity of drugs like crystal methamphetamine ('ice').

This failure of police to end the drug war has lead to calls for an approach based around harm reduction, rather than punitive measures -- an approach facilitated by the dark net.

GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO
Drugs ordered on the dark net are delivered through the post, cutting out the middle man.

"All of the cryptomarkets and dark net marketplaces that we see have very active discussion forums with a large percentage of that discussion centred around things like safer forms of drug use," Martin said.

He points to the original Silk Road website, which featured a weekly Q&A session by an anonymous doctor, paid in bitcoins to answer users questions about how to use illicit drugs more safely.

Moreover, because of the eBay-esque rating and feedback system employed by dark net drug traffickers, the drugs are generally of higher quality and less likely to contain potentially deadly adulterants.

"That can be dangerous as well," Martin cautioned.

"If you've got, for example, very strong ecstasy pills floating around there's a higher potential for overdose. But people typically have a better knowledge of the composition of their drugs (online)."

Whatever the benefits and the drawbacks, it's clear that despite law enforcements' best efforts, the dark net drugs trade isn't going anywhere any time soon.

The industry is already worth hundreds of millions of dollars globally, and is growing fast.

Australia is the one of the highest rates of dark net drug dealers per capita in the world, beaten only by the Netherlands. More than a quarter (27 percent) of the world's dark net 'ice' trade is sold through Australian cryptomarket dealers.

The 2016 Global Drug Survey found that eight percent of Australian respondents (around 80 percent of whom report using illicit drugs) have bought drugs off the dark net.

"There will always be that physical market, but if current trends continue, then we're going to see very significant increases in dark net drug trading," Martin concluded.

Source: This article was published huffingtonpost.com.au By Lara Pearce

Categorized in Deep Web

Most of the world wide web is invisible. Beyond the “surface web”—the parts accessible to search engines—there is a “deep web” containing (by one estimate) 500 times the content, secured in databases and hidden behind login screens. And within this deep web is a tiny corner known as the “dark web,” which requires special, anonymizing software such as the Tor Browser to access and contains everything from black markets selling drugs and counterfeit IDs to whistleblowing forums.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Source : cloudwards.net

Categorized in Deep Web

The internet is amazingly robust, but like any complex network is still prone to the occasional failure. A new analysis using network theory explains why the dark net – the hidden underbelly of the regular internet, invisible to search engines – is less vulnerable to attacks. The lessons learned could help inform the design of more robust communications networks in the future.

The regular internet’s design is deliberately decentralised, which makes it very stable under normal circumstances. Think of each site or server as a node, connected to numerous nodes around it, which in turn connect to even more nodes, and so on. Take out a node or two here or there and the network continues to function just fine. But this structure also makes it more vulnerable to a coordinated attack: take out many nodes at once, as happens during a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, and the result can be catastrophic failure that cascades through the entire network.

The dark net is much less vulnerable to such directed attacks, thanks to its unique structure. Manlio De Domenico and Alex Arenas at Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain, used data from the Internet Research Lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, to build their own model of the dark net. They ran simulations to see how it would react to three failure scenarios: random node failures, targeted attacks on specific nodes, and cascading failures throughout the network.

They found that an attack on the dark net would need to hit four times as many nodes to cause a cascading failure as on the regular internet. This stems from its use of “onion routing”, a technique for relaying information that hides data in many layers of encryption. Rather than connecting a user’s computer directly to a host server, onion routing bounces the information through various intermediary nodes before delivering it to the desired location. This stops an attack from spreading so widely.

Powerful connections

Another reason for the dark net’s resilience is its lack of something called the “rich-club effect”. In the regular internet, powerful nodes connect more readily with other powerful nodes, creating what Simon DeDeo at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, terms a “smoky back room” of “network elites”. An attack on one such node can trigger the failure of others, which can in turn lead to cascading failure across the network. The dark net doesn’t have this high level of connectivity between powerful nodes.

“This is [another] one of the things that make it more robust to attack,” says DeDeo. “The network elites are more spread out. In fact, the elites appear to be avoiding each other.”

This model of the dark net somewhat resembles a so-called “small-world network”, in which several heavily connected nodes link clusters of smaller local nodes – similar to how major air traffic hubs connect smaller local airports. Both systems exhibit similar resilience to catastrophic failure, although in-depth comparisons have yet to be completed.

Reconfiguring the entire internet to make it as robust as the dark net would be prohibitively expensive, but De Domenico thinks the pair’s work could still offer practical insights. “It is possible to rethink next-generation upgrades and the design of more localised communication networks, like the intranets of large companies,” he says.

Author : Jennifer Ouellette

Source : https://www.newscientist.com/article/2123354-why-the-dark-net-is-more-resilient-to-attack-than-the-internet/

 

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.

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

It looks innocent enough, that little green "g" icon in the top corner of your computer screen — exactly like the old Google one. Except, it isn’t. On it you’ll find another world — a mire of avarice and lust, wrath and envy.

This is the Dark Web, or Dark Net, a manifestation of forbidden fantasies in pixels and binary coding, a search engine for sin.

Want to ferret money offshore illegally? Indulge sexual proclivities that aren’t discussed in polite society? Need a guy to do you a favour involving some kneecapping? The Dark Web offers it all, though clunkily.

In this case, that "g" refers to "Grams" — a search engine on the Dark Net, for all the different marketplaces that exist in this more open but hidden corner of the Internet.

Type in an innocuous word such as "light", and these are the results: a bargain rate on 1g of light brown heroin (from a trusted dealer in Norway), or an LED lamp guaranteed to help you clone credit cards.

If you’re looking for something specific — say, cocaine, heroin, fake IDs, stolen bank cards,  counterfeit money, or even prescription drugs — it’s all here, accessible even from the southern tip of Africa.

On one level, the Dark Net is a libertarian’s dream, a thumping triumph of free-market principles unfettered by nosy government or any other intervention whatsoever. Only, put this argument under a microscope, and it starts to unravel.

On some Dark Net sites, it’s a bit of a Kafkaesque twist on Amazon.

Marketplaces with names like Agora, The Majestic Garden, Oasis, AlphaBay and Hansa offer anything from a tutorial on how to become a fake Uber driver (only 99c), instructions on how to make a bomb to a how-to on forging a UK passport.

Is the new guy in the office stealing your thunder? Is a politician stressing you out? No problem — hire a hitman, who’ll break bones to specifications — US$3,000 to maim someone, $10,000 to assassinate him. Up to $180,000 if he’s high-profile.

There are other, perhaps more surprising, criminal activities.

For example, company officials sell information to traders, which allows them to make a killing by insider trading. (Imagine, for example, what those who knew of Nhlanhla Nene’s sacking weeks in advance could have made?)

While you might think SA is so far behind the digital curve that this is purely of academic interest, many of these services are available in this country. And the Dark Net provides an equally alluring avenue for SA’s crooks to peddle their products — extending their reach globally to make a killing.

The Hawks, the priority crime directorate inside the SA Police Service, told the Financial Mail that between 8,000 and 9,000 South Africans routinely use the Dark Net. And that number is growing.

"Especially when you consider the sort of crimes, it’s heinous. It’s not petty theft, it is all your socially damaging crimes — child pornography, drug trade, human trafficking, renting a hitman," says one officer.

This increase in SA means the Dark Net is "starting to look like a threat" to society, the Hawks add.

To get a better understanding of how real this threat is, the Financial Mail spent the past month trawling various websites inside the Dark Net. What we found was alarming.

On the Hansa marketplace, you’ll find a vendor selling a strain of weed called Royal Swazi, shipped from SA.

There, 60g will set you back $150 (R2,100), which is many times what street dealers would get locally.

An Amazon-style website provides a detailed description of how it is grown near Piggs Peak in Swaziland, and a list of terms and conditions that seem rather odd for a website operating on the fringes of legality.

As an evidently civic-minded dope dealer, for example, it specifies "no under-21s", and asserts the "right to cancel" any order — though one wonders which court it would approach to invoke that right. And it promises to deliver within 35 days.

As data intelligence consultancy Terbium Labs explains in a report this month: "The Dark Net drug trade, if we can call it that, is far more organised and mundane than you might expect ... reviews follow a standard template, where users rank the stealth, shipping time, purity, high, and overall experience."

Surf over to another website, and an SA vendor offers to ship 20g of amphetamine sulphate (a variation of "tik") for $285. Like a traditional Amazon webpage, the feedback section has gushing reviews from users.

Evidently, some SA merchants are now making a killing thanks to the Dark Net. On the other side of the coin, experts say a large number of South Africans are using the Dark Net to buy products too, including drugs.

This isn’t as difficult as you might think. You use special software and a special Web browser (usually Tor) to mask your identity and location.

From there, it’s easy pickings.

Most websites say they deliver worldwide. Vendors who deliver to SA include companies that peddle MDMA (ecstasy), fake €50 notes, drivers’ licences and ID cards for most nationalities, and fake credit cards.

In other instances, SA-issued bank cards, with their pins, are being sold, listing the amount available in the account for criminals seeking to duplicate the cards. [Typically, you pay 10% of what’s in the account].

While "assassination websites" aren’t hard to find, it’s unclear whether these "hits" are actually carried out. The "Besa Mafia" site, which offered to "kill people or beat the shit out of him", turned out to be an elaborate scam to swindle Bitcoins.

However, at least one other assassination website offered its services in SA, though it warned it didn’t offer an "extensive service" in this country.

The man behind the largest search engine on the Dark Net, who spoke to the Financial Mail (but who asked not to be named), says the amount of money being spent on the Dark Net makes it a huge global market.

"These dark markets are serious players. When you are dealing with seven or eight-figure dollar values — more than $1m — and (the markets are getting between) 5% and 10% commission, that’s significant money."

SA, he says, is still far behind other global destinations for Dark Net commerce, with not too many SA credit cards being found on the websites.

One reason, he says, is that shipping to and from SA is more risky. "It is very difficult to participate in these dark markets [as an SA] merchant, but as a buyer there is this total problem [that] shipping to SA sucks — it’s awful and that in a way has protected it."

In the US, he says, shipping happens through private agencies like FedEx.

"Now if you ship to SA, no-one is going to pay the overhead of shipping, so they will put it in a standard box and send it. But now you are entering the government space [as the Post Office is state-owned]," he says.

So what, in fact, is the Dark Net?

Perhaps most literally, it is the Internet below the Internet you know. Most people don’t know it, but the Internet they use — Google, company websites, news sites or banking sites — represents just 1% of the entire Internet traffic out there.

Prof Martin Olivier from the University of Pretoria’s computer science department, compares the traditional World Wide Web to driving around Sandton: you see the corporate headquarters of SA’s top companies but you know that inside those buildings are areas that are access-controlled, which you don’t see.

Those access-controlled areas are a deeper layer most people don’t see, known as the Deep Web. One layer below that, even more hidden, is the Dark Net.

Olivier says the Dark Net is like islands in the sea of the Internet, unlinked to anything else, a perfect place to hide anything known only to the person who hid it and whoever he shared it with. "It is like any secret place: what you do with it depends on what your motives are."

For criminals, the attraction is obvious.

As Troels Oerting, a director of European crime fighting agency Europol, told Jane’s Intelligence Review in 2014: "[Buyers can] get the illegal commodity delivered risk-free to a place of their choice by the mailman or a courier, or maybe by drone in the future, and can pay with virtual currency and in full anonymity, without the police being able to identify either the buyer or the seller."

What makes the Dark Net dark is the hidden service protocol, which lets anyone make a website or messaging server to communicate anonymously. Normally an authority can take a website down for breaking the law, but on the Dark Net a site remains up because there is no central figure with the power to take it down.

On any given day, there are about 4,000 hidden services available on the Dark Net, 40% more than four years ago. But Dark Net sites are ephemeral — on and off constantly, never all on at the same time. Tor is used by about 2m people a day while about 250,000 people a day make use of the hidden services search engine, says one Dark Net operator.

By sharing your site’s public key, a 16-digit address made up of numbers and letters, you invite people to your site. For example, journalism service ProPublica (which is legal) uses the key: propub3r6espa33w.onion.

While the hitmen, drugs and porn dealers are obviously the most eye-catching corners of the Deep Web, not all of it is illegal.

A study released this month by Terbium Labs that looked at 400 sites shows that 54.5% of all content on the Dark Net is legal: security warnings, political party activism, community groups for people who distrust the authorities.

Some more notable sites include WikiLeaks (a legal site) or Sci-Hub (less legitimate, if more benign than some), which provides 58m academic papers free-of-charge, which were taken from institutions. Surprisingly, the Dark Net has extensive eBook libraries on subjects as un-criminal as investigative journalism.

Of the rest, illegal drugs accounted for 12%, pharmaceutical drugs (like human growth hormone) 3%, illicit marketplaces (where anything from drugs to porn are sold) 6.5%, hacking (selling ransomware kits or other tools) 1.25% and another 1.25% are concerned with outright fraud (selling bank accounts, for example).

Then, most distressingly, 1% involves a category called "exploitation" – sites targeted at children. "This is a legitimate and real concern on the Dark Net and is not as infrequent as you might hope it to be," say the Terbium researchers.

The paedophiles are, with good reason, the most reviled of the Dark Web’s communities, serving an estimated global network of 500,000 people.

Says one Dark Net operator: "These guys have serious emotional problems.

"They have all these levelling systems [which measure trust between users] and they are creating original content. They are serious producers of child pornography and they charge a lot of money."

This, to many, is the real disease of the Dark Net. "It is overwhelmingly infested with the dregs of society, looking for children in pain, and that is the hardest thing to come to grips with: that the majority of users are looking for abused children," he says.

The libertarian notion that the Dark Net is simply about free "choice" is demolished by the fact that it is largely a refuge for some of the most wicked elements of society.

Stock manipulation is also a growing market. On one site, says the operator, you would pay a buy-in fee to collude with other traders to pump and dump stocks.

The Hawks, which has a cybercrime unit dedicated to trawling the Dark Net for illicit behaviour, believes a large number of the 8,000 to 9,000 South Africans who use it do so for criminal purposes.

Brigadier Piet Pieterse, head of the Hawks unit, says that in SA the Dark Net is mostly used to share images of child pornography, mass marketing fraud, sell drugs and barter illegally obtained credit card information.

Pieterse says the applications of what the Dark Net could be used for are endless. It could hypothetically disrupt SA’s already fraught government tender processes, giving buyers an advantage.

Other policemen say it is surprising how often classified government documents are posted on the Dark Net.

An officer in Pieterse’s unit (who did not want to be named as it could compromise his investigations) says many people — even in government — just don’t understand the threat the Dark Net poses for SA.

"No-one really understands what it is about and the impact it has," she adds.

Either way, the Dark Net has the potential to do deep damage in a society where the law-enforcement authorities are already struggling to investigate and hold criminals accountable for crime in the physical world.

Incidents of South Africans seeing their computers "hijacked" and then "ransomed" back to them by hackers are also becoming more common.

Typically, the computer freezes and a message pops up saying that if the users want all their files to be "released", they need to pay a specific amount in Bitcoins to a specified e-wallet. These ransomware kits are frequently sold on the Dark Net, often by Russian or East European hacking outfits. As Time magazine reported, these hackers are not going after the heavily fortified systems of banks or corporations but "straight for easy targets: small businesses, schools, hospitals, and computer users like us".

How are they getting away with it?

What’s most extraordinary about the Dark Net is that this illicit trade is being conducted under the noses of law enforcement agencies across the world, who seem powerless to stop it.

Intuitively, you’d imagine police should be able to track purchases and effect arrests down the supply chain. But it’s not that simple. Sellers post goods using vacuum-sealed fingerprint-free bags (often dipped in bleach as a further precaution), with printed labels. About 90% of shipments get through, The Economist has estimated.

For extra security, merchants change their Web addresses from time to time to keep unwarranted snoops (journalists or cops) away. The URLs aren’t straight-forward, using a jumble of letters and numbers.

The Tor browser, which hides the user’s location and masks what someone is searching for, introduces an added challenge for the police. Olivier uses the analogy of passing a letter in an envelope around a circle of anonymous people in different locations in which each person puts the letter in another envelope – making it impossible to tell where it originated from.

The distribution network works so well because it relies on a system of favours and trust – the old "honour among thieves". Criminals feel comfortable there, say the Hawks, because they "trust each other".

So, someone can order cocaine from one of the US marketplaces for delivery in Johannesburg. Payment is made through a crypto currency — most often, Bitcoins, which is a decentralised, anonymous and reputable transaction gateway which isn’t controlled by an accountable central institution. Bitcoins are then deposited into a seller’s "virtual wallet" and within a short time the drugs are delivered.

Says a Hawks officer: "The guy delivering the drugs is unlikely to know what he is dropping off or why. He most likely doesn’t have criminal intent but he got a call asking him to make the delivery if he wants his debt forgiven."

Yet the Dark Net isn’t entirely accountability-free, as the case of Silk Road illustrates. Silk Road was the most popular black market website, flogging everything from drugs to hitmen.

But in 2013 its founder, Ross Ulbricht (pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts), was arrested, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He later claimed his motive with Silk Road was "about giving people the freedom to make their own choices".

Today, if you link to the original Silk Road, all you see is an image stating "the hidden site has been seized" and the FBI logo.

Interestingly, not every illicit marketplace is utterly without conscience. Silk Road, for example, said it would sell only "victimless" contraband, while other sites refused to sell weapons or poison. One marketplace, Evolution (which has also closed), refused to sell "child pornography, services related to murder, assassination, terrorism, prostitution, Ponzi schemes and lotteries", reports Wired magazine. Yet it did allow credit-card data to be sold.

All of which leaves SA’s law-enforcement authorities, who these days seem caught up in playing politics, quite jittery. The State Security Agency (SSA), like the Hawks, has been trying to keep an eye on the Dark Net. But, says spokesman Brian Dube, it’s tricky to trace shady transactions that use Bitcoins.

Quite how much money is involved is unclear. But one company that conducts research into the Dark Net, law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, estimates it could run into billions of dollars.

Dube says the SSA monitors channels used on the Dark Net to look for any mention of terrorist attacks planned against SA infrastructure. This isn’t so far-fetched, he says, as there are certain sites that offer services for terrorist organisations. Most simply spread propaganda and act as a communications hub — a kind of Facebook for terrorists. But terrorist cells are increasingly recruiting through the Dark Net.

Equally, the classified documents posted online — often obtained through hacks, theft, or disgruntled employees — are often impossible to remove.

"As soon as the information is made public this ‘confidential’ information is copied, saved and viewed by thousands of people, making the managing of this type of information leak impossible," says Dube.

This is perhaps one of the more benevolent uses of the Dark Net – a safe place for whistle-blowers to post documents without fearing recrimination from zealous politicians seeking to target them.

Prof Basie von Solms, director of the Centre for Cyber Security, says if you are a whistle-blower the Dark Net is the safest bet. "That is the place you will probably make it available or even put it up for sale and make a buck," says Von Solms.

One policewoman who spoke to us anonymously says the growth in the Dark Net in SA is a reaction to government’s desire to impose more controls on the Internet by policing it more vigorously. The more draconian these laws become, the bigger it will grow. "You limit freedom and people will always seek out places to live out those freedoms, whether criminal or not."

It’s a noble sentiment, suggesting a higher raison d’être for the Dark Net. But the most depraved fringes of this hidden Internet world make it more of a menace than a saviour right now.

What it means: The "free choice" notion is demolished by the fact that it is a refuge for some of the most wicked elements of society.

Source : http://www.financialmail.co.za/

Categorized in Deep Web

The darknet (or darkweb/any variation thereof) has an undeniable stigma. Some know the hidden sites to be a gateway to speaking freely. Others use darknet marketplaces to purchase drugs that are safer than those on the street. Another group may use the anonymity to share child pornography. In the words of Ross Ulbricht, “I learned… when you give people freedom, you don’t know what they’ll do with it.”

Researchers from Terbium Labs claim to have found evidence that disputes the majorly negative reputation the darknet has garnered.

Anonymity does not mean criminality,” the study’s landing page displays. “In the industry’s first data-driven, fact-based research report, Terbium Labs analyzes what’s really taking place on the far corners of the Internet.”

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Dr. Clare Gollnick and Emily Wilson, according to Engadget, claimed to be the first to conduct such a study. While the exact intention or scope of the claim remains unknown, Terbium Labs is far from the first entity to conduct a scan of onion links. Thanks to the well-known security and privacy researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis, we have OnionScan. And again, thanks to Lewis, we have a list of darknet papers and studies conducted throughout the last decade.

The Terbium Labs paper listed the the full methodology at the end of the paper, but the introduction holds “what you need to know to get started.” To start, Dr. Clare Gollnick and Emily Wilson used data pulled from 400 URLs. The URLs were pulled by an automated crawler over the course of a single day. Each URL, the paper noted, was used as an independent unit.

A team of analysts classified the contents of each URL. The categories were predefined were labeled with one of the following terms: Legal, Explicit, Drugs, Pharmaceuticals, Fraud, Multiple Categories (Illicit), Falsified Documents & Counterfeits, Exploitation, Hacking & Exploits, Weapons, Extremism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Other Illicit Activity, Unknown/Site Down, Downloadable File.

Legal content made the majority of the 400 domains documented and it mirrored what could be found on the clearnet. According to the study, 6.8% of the legal content was porn. The rest consisted of nothing worthwhile. There were political blogs, graphic design firms, and even forums to discuss erectile dysfunction. The legal content appeared to be seemingly no different than content anywhere else.

After the legal category came everything else.

The majority of the content in the study is simply a description for each of the aforementioned categories. For example:

We defined Drugs as any non-pharmaceutical drug or substance bought or sold for recreational purposes. To provide a more detailed breakdown of the kinds of drugs available on the dark web, we separately classified any Pharmaceuticals available for sale as well. We include marijuana as a drug and not a pharmaceutical for the purposes of this study.

And similarly:

Pharmaceuticals include any kind of drug that a doctor might prescribe, excluding painkillers and their derivatives. For our classification, Pharmaceuticals include ADD/ADHD and anti-anxiety medications, even though these medications are often used recreationally… No prescriptions, unlimited refills, and no questions asked. Dark web pharmacies provide unfettered access to prescription medications, recalled over-the-counter drugs, and unregulated supplements.

Note that in this study, prescription drugs and street drugs were not categorized together.

The study found that the “drugs” category constituted close to 44.5% of the illegal content on the darknet.

drugs.png

Illegal pharmaceuticals only accounted for another 11.9%.

pharma.png

Both categories combined, the study found, made up the majority of the darknet content at around 56%.

For the most part, the remaining categories, save for “Multiple Categories (Illicit),” made little impact. “Weapons” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” among others, yielded no results in study. One category stood out to researchers: Exploitation.

Researchers discovered more content depicting the exploitation of children than content in several other categories. The exploitation category was almost as large as the fraud category.

Ex.png

The results of this study should not necessarily be treated as canon. Various scans over the years have had very different results. Most scans with accompanying data have been far more in-depth than this one. This doesn’t change the fact that legal content exists on the darknet. Similarly, this study’s inaccuracies and small sample size do not inherently disqualify other findings.

Sarah Jamie Lewis, on Twitter, pointed out some issues with these types of studies. One-third or more of darknet sites have a duplicate or clone, according to Lewis. In a study like the one from Terbium Labs, pulling any number of duplicates paints an inaccurate picture. Likewise, Lewis wrote that she had never seen a study that did anything other than http-only. Other factors like site ownership and a website’s weight need to be taken into account.

Source : deepdotweb

Categorized in Deep Web

When the most recent photos released by drug vendors fromdarknet marketscaptured the eye of the public, many were certain that there would be repercussions for the seemingly careless acts of defiance disguised as product advertising.

In their displays of their illegal wares, some of these online drug vendors forgot to remove or alter some crucial bit of information which could be instrumental in pointing out their exact locations based on the uploaded photos.

“Dealers Virtually Shared a Digital Map” – Harvard Seniors

EXIFis data that attaches to images taken by smartphones and digital cameras. This is especially so if the said device(s) feature in in-built GPS feature. Among the data tagged in the photos include geolocation information that is detailed enough to pinpoint exact locations based on the photographs.

Harvard seniors Michael Rose and Paul Lisker elucidate that this is basically the kind of information any discerning drug dealer from the darknet markets would want to keep hidden.

By posting pictures of their illicit goods with accurate location data, they are effectively aiding the authorities to track them down. According to Rose, the accuracy of the data points is enough to pinpoint an exact house, let alone a location.

North America and Europe Lead in the Number of Online Drug Vendors

drug-maket
Majority of darknet vendors came from US and UK

According to findings posted on Mediumby the two Harvard researchers when they plotted the locations scraped from posted photographs, they indicated that most of the darknet markets were based in Europe and North America.

The data was slightly altered to within a mile of accuracy for privacy reasons. Differently colored spots represented different online drug markets.

Lisker and Rose relied on data dug up from the Black-Market Archives, the brainchild of an independent researcher only known by the moniker Gwern. The two Harvard seniors conducted the research as part of a project on privacy and technology.

The site proved an invaluable resource as it featured data from popular darknet markets from as far back as late 2013.

Tor Does Not Always Suffice When it Comes to Online Anonymity

Using a computer script they wrote, the two Harvard seniors were able to dig up an estimated 7.5 million photographs from darknet markets. Of these, about 2,300 featured location data. However, only 229 photos were tagged from unique locations.

Michael Rose was surprised to see that some of the information came from well-established darknet markets which he had suspected would automatically strip such information to protect the anonymity of the user.

Only a small percentage of location data was the result of forgetful drug vendors, however.

One notable case was that of the recently shut down drug market, Agora. 52 of the 229 unique geotagged images came from what was one of the most popular darknet markets.

In a curious turn of events, the photographs with unique location data began to disappear from Agora’s listings in the Black-Market Archives on March 18, 2014. According to Rose, this is when darknet markets began to realize their colossal blunder.

Geotagged Photographs on Black Markets are Indicators of Carelessness

darnet-codes
darknet seller may also be misleading authorities

Rose points out that the existence of photographs with accurate information data is an indicator of failure from both the sellers and thedarknet marketsinvolved.

However, their post on Medium suggests that the inclusion of location data to the photos posted on various darknet markets could indeed be purposeful, and a way to misdirect or manipulate the authorities by pointing them in the wrong direction.

Despite all, Rose and Lisker advise the authorities not to be too enthused as finding any useful photographs is hard and therefore, it is not the most effective way to curb the sale of illicit drugs on darknet markets.

Source : darkwebnews

Categorized in Deep Web

The Indian intelligence agency are probing known modes of communication through the deep web. Looking into it, they are probing the dark corners of the Internet which allows these sympathizers to meet, reach, organize and attack. These new tools of closed user group interface, is the new mode of stealth communication. The same dark web is being intercepted for coded communications from terror modules like the one that attacked the Uri 12 Brigade military camp. In fact, IB had given specific input to the Brigade Commander on terrorist sightings across the LoC.

IB and RAW using a coordinated unit under the aegis of IB are monitoring this kind of traffic, namely ascertaining which site is part of which web, who is talking to whom, what kind of messaging and communication is doing the rounds, among other things. Rana Banerji, ex special secretary cabinet secretariat, one of the foremost minds on this subject told Financial Chronicle, “Agencies are sifting through communication across suspected sites and this goes beyond listening posts tuning into chatter, for it is the internet and its recesses which are proving to be far more dangerous vesting places.”

Former RAW chief A.S. Dulat speaking to FC said, “We are adequately prepared to deal with this menace. The

NTRO has a key role to play in this.” In fact, the secretive National Technical Research Organization directly under the National Security Adviser in the PMO is increasingly proving to be the minder of the deep and dark web using sophisticated monitoring equipment to ferret out the vital clues from both the dark and deep web, sharing resources with the IB-RAW on this sensitive beat.

D.C. Pathak, former director Intelligence Bureau told FC, “As the nation’s technical intel agency, NTRO tracks enemy activity in cyber space and also advises on critical information infrastructure protection which is now so important in the age of cyber warfare.” NTRO is particularly concerned with economic installations being attacked by unethical hackers like say the Indian power grid or a ‘spectacular’ attack on a refining complex or a nuclear site.

At almost 500 times the size of the surface web, the deep web’s potency as a communication tool with frightening implications is worrying for the agencies particularly because it cannot be indexed by regular search engines. To keep track of these browsers, new software is being created to stay ahead of the curve. In terms of indoctrination and recruitment, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State, and by its Arabic language acronym, Daesh, which is a Salafi jihadist militant group that follows a fundamentalist Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam has been at the vanguard of internet usage.

NTRO’s off-the-air GSM monitoring device code named Fox is capable of picking up signals between cellphones and mobile towers only within a radius of 2 km and has been used extensively in the Kashmir Valley.

The dark web is the encrypted network that exists between Tor servers and their clients, whereas the deep web is simply the content of databases and other web services that for one reason or another cannot be indexed by conventional search engines. What you want to access are sites using the Tor Hidden Service Protocol. It works over regular Tor (anonymity network), but instead of having your traffic routed from your computer and through an onion-like layer of servers, it stays within the Tor network.

It needs to be mentioned here that only deep web browser can help access the deep web. The most famous of these deep web browsers is called Tor and this is the one that is recommended if you’re looking to get onto the deep web. Downloads of Tor soared in August by almost 100 percent as the general population became more and more concerned about their privacy amid revelations about US and UK intelligence agencies monitoring web traffic.

The deepest layers of the Deep Web, a segment known as the “Dark Web,” contain content that has been intentionally concealed. The Dark Web can be defined as the portion of the Deep Web that can only be accessed through specialized browsers. A recent study found that 57 percent of the Dark Web is occupied by illegal content like pornography, illicit finances, drug hubs, weapons trafficking, counterfeit currency, terrorist communication, and much more. Probably the most notorious example of these activities can be seen in The Silk Road website. To access material in the Dark Web, individuals use special software such as Tor or I2P (Invisible Internet Project).

TOR was initially created by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory as a tool for anonymously communicating online. It relies upon a network of volunteer computers to route users’ web traffic through a series of other users’ computers so that the traffic cannot be traced to the original user.

As another expert James Lewis has highlighted, “One of the characteristics of terrorist websites is their ability to manage rapid changes of internet addresses. When authorities force a site to move, informal networks based on chat rooms or e mail inform the group’s supporters of the new network address. The word of mouth system to distribute new addresses to audiences is very effective. It reinforces a sense of inclusion in the group and of success in defying the authorities.”

At the start of August, a whole bunch of hidden websites – some saying as many as 50% – completely vanished off the deep web and this was linked to the take down of a hosting operation in Ireland. The Irish Independent reported that the U.S. was seeking the extradition from Ireland of a man named Eric Eoin Marques, who is alleged to have been involved in distributing child pornography online.

Gabriel Weimann, Professor of Communication at the Department of Communication at Haifa University, Israel writes, “Following the November 2015 attacks in Paris, ISIS has turned to the Dark Web to spread news and propaganda in an apparent attempt to protect the identities of the group’s supporters and safeguard its content from hacktivists. The move comes after hundreds of websites associated with ISIS were taken down as part of the Operation Paris (OpParis) campaign launched by the amorphous hacker collective Anonymous. ISIS’s media outlet, Al-Hayat Media Center, posted a link and explanations on how to get to their new Dark Web site on a forum associated with ISIS.

The announcement was also distributed on Telegram, the encrypted communication application used by the group. Telegram is an application for sending text and multimedia messages on Android, iOS, and Windows devices.

Telegram is so confident of its security that it twice offered a $300,000 reward to the first person who could crack its encryption. The messages shared links to a Tor service with a “. onion” address on the Dark Web. The site contains an archive of ISIS propaganda materials, including its documentary-style film, The Flames of War. The site also includes a link to the terrorist group’s private messaging portal on Telegram.

Terrorists can use the Dark Web for fundraising, money transfers, and illegal purchase of explosives and weapons, using virtual currencies like Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies.

Source : themerkle

Categorized in Deep Web

This list offers some tips and tools to help you get the most out of your Internet searches.

Semantic Search Tools and Databases

Semantic search tools depend on replicating the way the human brain thinks and categorizes information to ensure more relevant searches. Give some of these semantic tools and databases a try.

  • Zotero. Firefox users will like this add-on that helps you organize your research material by collecting, managing, and citing any references from Internet research.
  • Freebase. This community-powered database includes information on millions of topics.
  • Powerset. Enter a topic, phrase, or question to find information from Wikipedia with this semantic application.
  • Kartoo. Enter any keyword to receive a visual map of the topics that pertain to your keyword. Hover your mouse over each to get a thumbnail of the website.
  • DBpedia. Another Wikipedia resource, ask complex questions with this semantic program to get results from within Wikipedia.
  • Quintura. Entering your search term will create a cloud of related terms as well as a list of links. Hover over one of the words or phrases in the cloud to get an entirely different list of links.
  • [true knowledge]. Help with current beta testing at this search engine or try their Quiz Bot that finds answers to your questions.
  • Stumpedia. This search engine relies on its users to index, organize, and review information coming from the Internet.
  • Evri. This search engine provides you with highly relevant results from articles, papers, blogs, images, audio, and video on the Internet.
  • Gnod. When you search for books, music, movies and people on this search engine, it remembers your interests and focuses the search results in that direction.
  • Boxxet. Search for what interests you and you will get results from the "best of" news, blogs, videos, photos, and more. Type in your keyword and in addition to the latest news on the topic, you will also receive search results, online collections, and more.

Meta-Search Engines

Meta-search engines use the resources of many different search engines to gather the most results possible. Many of these will also eliminate duplicates and classify results to enhance your search experience.

  • SurfWax. This search engine works very well for reaching deep into the web for information.
  • Academic Index. Created by the former chair of Texas Association of School Librarians, this meta-search engine only pulls from databases and resources that are approved by librarians and educators.
  • Infomine has been built by a pool of libraries in the United States.
  • Clusty. Clusty searches through top search engines, then clusters the results so that information that may have been hidden deep in the search results is now readily available.
  • Dogpile. Dogpile searches rely on several top search engines for the results then removes duplicates and strives to present only relevant results.
  • Turbo 10. This meta-search engine is specifically designed to search the deep web for information.
  • Multiple Search. Save yourself the work by using this search engine that looks among major search engines, social networks, flickr, Wikipedia, and many more sites.
  • Mamma. Click on the Power Search option to customize your search experience with this meta-search engine.
  • World Curry Guide. This meta-search tool with a strong European influence has been around since 1997 and is still growing strong.
  • Fazzle.com. Give this meta-search engine a try. It accesses a large number of databases and claims to have more access to information than Google.
  • Icerocket. Search blogs as well as the general Internet, MySpace, the news, and more to receive results by posting date.
  • iZito. Get results from a variety of major search engines that come to you clustered in groups. You can also receive only US website results or receive results with a more international perspective.
  • Ujiko. This unusual meta-search tool allows for you to customize your searches by eliminating results or tagging some as favorites.
  • IncyWincy is an Invisible Web search engine and it behaves as a meta-search engine by tapping into other search engines and filtering the results. It searches the web, directory, forms, and images. With a free registration, you can track search results with alerts.

General Search Engines and Databases

These databases and search engines for databases will provide information from places on the Internet most typical search engines cannot.

  • DeepDyve. One of the newest search engines specifically targeted at exploring the deep web, this one is available after you sign up for a free membership.
  • OAIster. Search for digital items with this tool that provides 12 million resources from over 800 repositories.
  • direct search. Search through all the direct search databases or select a specific one with this tool.
  • CloserLook Search. Search for information on health, drugs and medicine, city guides, company profiles, and Canadian airfares with this customized search engine that specializes in the deep web.
  • Northern Light Search. Find information with the quick search or browse through other search tools here.
  • Yahoo! Search Subscriptions. Use this tool to combine a search on Yahoo! with searches in journals where you have subscriptions such as Wall Street Journal and New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Librarians’ Internet Index (LII) is a publicly-funded website and weekly newsletter serving California, the nation, and the world.
  • The Scout Archives. This database is the culmination of nine years’ worth of compiling the best of the Internet.
  • Daylife. Find news with this site that offers some of the best global news stories along with photos, articles, quotes, and more.
  • Silobreaker. This tool shows how news and people in the news impacts the global culture with current news stories, corresponding maps, graphs of trends, networks of related people or topics, fact sheets, and more.
  • spock. Find anyone on the web who might not normally show up on the surface web through blogs, pictures, social networks, and websites here.
  • The WWW Virtual Library. One of the oldest databases of information available on the web, this site allows you to search by keyword or category.
  • pipl. Specifically designed for searching the deep web for people, this search engine claims to be the most powerful for finding someone.
  • Complete Planet is a free and well designed directory resource makes it easy to access the mass of dynamic databases that are cloaked from a general purpose search.
  • Infoplease is an information portal with a host of features. Using the site, you can tap into a good number of encyclopedias, almanacs, an atlas, and biographies. Infoplease also has a few nice offshoots like Factmonster.com for kids and Biosearch, a search engine just for biographies.

Academic Search Engines and Databases

The world of academia has many databases not accessible by Google and Yahoo!, so give these databases and search engines a try if you need scholarly information.

  • Google Scholar. Find information among academic journals with this tool.
  • WorldCat. Use this tool to find items in libraries including books, CDs, DVDs, and articles.
  • getCITED. This database of academic journal articles and book chapters also includes a discussion forum.
  • Microsoft Libra. If you are searching for computer science academic research, then Libra will help you find what you need.
  • BASE – Bielefeld Academic Search Engine. This multi-disciplinary search engine focuses on academic research and is available in German, Polish, and Spanish as well as English.
  • yovisto. This search engine is an academic video search tool that provides lectures and more.
  • AJOL – African Journals Online. Search academic research published in AJOL with this search engine.
  • HighWire Press. From Stanford, use this tool to access thousands of peer-reviewed journals and full-text articles.
  • MetaPress. This tool claims to be the "world’s largest scholarly content host" and provides results from journals, books, reference material, and more.
  • OpenJ-Gate. Access over 4500 open journals with this tool that allows you to restrict your search to peer-reviewed journals or professional and industry journals.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals. This journal search tool provides access to over 3700 top "quality controlled" journals.
  • Intute. The resources here are all hand-selected and specifically for education and research purposes.
  • Virtual Learning Resource Center. This tool provides links to thousands of academic research sites to help students at any level find the best information for their Internet research projects.
  • Gateway to 21st Century Skills. This resource for educators is sponsored by the US Department of Education and provides information from a variety of places on the Internet.
  • MagBot. This search engine provides journal and magazine articles on topics relevant to students and their teachers.
  • http://web.mel.org/index.php?P=SPT--BrowseResourcesFeaturedResources&ParentId=915" style="color: rgb(0, 82, 163); text-decoration: none;">Michigan eLibrary. Find full-text articles as well as specialized databases available for searching.

Scientific Search Engines and Databases

The scientific community keeps many databases that can provide a huge amount of information but may not show up in searches through an ordinary search engine. Check these out to see if you can find what you need to know.

  • Science.gov. This search engine offers specific categories including agriculture and food, biology and nature, Earth and ocean sciences, health and medicine, and more.
  • WorldWideScience.org. Search for science information with this connection to international science databases and portals.
  • CiteSeer.IST. This search engine and digital library will help you find information within scientific literature.
  • Scirus has a pure scientific focus. It is a far reaching research engine that can scour journals, scientists’ homepages, courseware, pre-print server material, patents and institutional intranets.
  • Scopus. Find academic information among science, technology, medicine, and social science categories.
  • GoPubMed. Search for biomedical texts with this search engine that accesses PubMed articles.
  • the Gene Ontology. Search the Gene Ontology database for genes, proteins, or Gene Ontology terms.
  • PubFocus. This search engine searches Medline and PubMed for information on articles, authors, and publishing trends.
  • Scitation. Find over one million scientific papers from journals, conferences, magazines, and other sources with this tool.

Custom Search Engines

Custom search engines narrow your focus and eliminate quite a bit of the extra information usually contained in search results. Use these resources to find custom search engines or use the specific custom search engines listed below.

  • CustomSearchEngine.com. This listing includes many of the Google custom search engines created.
  • CustomSearchGuide.com. Find custom search engines here or create your own.
  • CSE Links. Use this site to find Google Coop custom search engines.
  • PGIS PPGIS Custom Search. This search engine is customized for those interested in the "practice and science" of PGIS/PPGIS.
  • Files Tube. Search for files in file sharing and uploading sites with this search engine.
  • Rollyo. "Roll your own search engine" at this site where you determine which sites will be included in your searches.

Collaborative Information and Databases

One of the oldest forms of information dissemination is word-of-mouth, and the Internet is no different. With the popularity of bookmarking and other collaborative sites, obscure blogs and websites can gain plenty of attention. Follow these sites to see what others are reading.

  • Del.icio.us. As readers find interesting articles or blog posts, they can tag, save, and share them so that others can enjoy the content as well.
  • Digg. As people read blogs or websites, they can "digg" the ones they like, thus creating a network of user-selected sites on the Internet.
  • Technorati. Not only is this site a blog search engine, but it is also a place for members to vote and share, thus increasing the visibility for blogs.
  • StumbleUpon. As you read information on the Internet, you can Stumble it and give it a thumbs up or down. The more you Stumble, the more closely aligned to your taste will the content become.
  • Reddit. Working similarly to StumbleUpon, Reddit asks you to vote on articles, then customizes content based on your preferences.
  • Twine. With Twine you can search for information as well as share with others and get recommendations from Twine.
  • Kreeo.com. This collaborative site offers shared knowledge from its members through forums, blogs, and shared websites.

Hints and Strategies

Searching the deep web should be done a bit differently, so use these strategies to help you get started on your deep web searching.

  • Don’t rely on old ways of searching. Become aware that approximately 99% of content on the Internet doesn’t show up on typical search engines, so think about other ways of searching.
  • Search for databases. Using any search engine, enter your keyword alongside "database" to find any searchable databases (for example, "running database" or "woodworking database").
  • Get a library card. Many public libraries offer access to research databases for users with an active library card.
  • Stay informed. Reading blogs or other updated guides about Internet searches on a regular basis will ensure you are staying updated with the latest information on Internet searches.
  • Search government databases. There are many government databases available that have plenty of information you may be seeking.
  • Bookmark your databases. Once you find helpful databases, don’t forget to bookmark them so you can always come back to them again.
  • Practice. Just like with other types of research, the more you practice searching the deep web, the better you will become at it.
  • Don’t give up. Researchers agree that most of the information hidden in the deep web is some of the best quality information available.

Helpful Articles and Resources for Deep Searching

Take advice from the experts and read these articles, blogs, and other resources that can help you understand the deep web.

  • Deep Web – Wikipedia. Get the basics about the deep web as well as links to some helpful resources with this article.
  • Deep Web – AI3:::Adaptive Information. This assortment of articles from the co-coiner of the phrase "deep web," Michael Bergman offers a look at the current state of deep web perspectives.
  • The Invisible Web. This article from About.com provides a very simple explanation of the deep web and offers suggestions for tackling it.
  • ResourceShelf. Librarians and researchers come together to share their findings on fun, helpful, and sometimes unusual ways to gather information from the web.
  • Docuticker. This blog offers the latest publications from government agencies, NGOs, think tanks, and other similar organizations. Many of these posts are links to databases and research statistics that may not appear so easily on typical web searches.
  • TechDeepWeb.com. This site offers tips and tools for IT professionals to find the best deep web resources.
  • Digital Image Resources on the Deep Web. This article includes links to many digital image resources that probably won’t show up on typical search engine results.
  • Timeline of events related to the Deep Web. This timeline puts the entire history of the deep web into perspective as well as offers up some helpful links.
  • The Deep Web. Learn terminology, get tips, and think about the future of the deep web with this article.
  • How to Evaluate Web Resources is a guide by WhoIsHostingThis.com to help students quickly evaluate the credibility of any resource they find on the internet.
Categorized in Deep Web
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