[Source: This article was published in infosecurity-magazine.com By Liv Rowley - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jasper Solander]

The surface web poses many threats to organizations, but the deep and dark web has gained notoriety over the years as more and more cyber-criminals make use of underground forums and marketplaces to buy and sell goods such as stolen credentials and personally identifiable information (PII).

Various anonymizing features and a lack of state-based governance has allowed cybercrime to flourish in this relatively safe space. 

Stolen information, illegal services and other illicit offerings and activity can be observed with unnerving regularity on the deep and dark web. Goods can be put together or sold as packages alongside other Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) offerings, thereby lowering the barrier to entry for novice cyber-criminals and allowing veterans to outsource parts of their operations. 

Dare to delve?

Whilst the darknet is complicated to navigate, it is far from impossible to penetrate. There are public Tor indexers available – such as Torch and Grams – though they are often clunky to use and not comprehensive in their reach.

Threat intelligence companies may offer cybersecurity modules that crawl the darknet, indexing content and providing search engine-like capabilities to defenders who purchase these services. Forums, however, may need to be infiltrated first in the same way as you would a real-world criminal organization.

However, organizations must first determine whether the risks associated with this type of hands-on research are worth it. These risks include the possibility of being unwittingly or unintentionally infected with malware or otherwise exposing yourself to those with malicious intentions. A strong understanding of operational security and acceptance of the risks associated with this type of research is key. In many cases, organizations may find it more prudent to enlist the help of threat intelligence vendors, whose professional expertise may come in useful.

Threat actors utilize Tor, I2P and other darknet browsing software to access hidden forums and marketplaces, while others lurk on the deep web behind password-protected or invitation-only closed forums or groups on Telegram, WhatsApp and other chat platforms. Some expect you to prove technical knowledge to gain entrance to a forum or to actively participate in a cyber-criminal community in order to maintain access. In other cases, you may need to be invited or recommended by a trusted relationship to gain access. 

Keep your enemies close

Organizations looking to conduct dark web research are setting out on a challenging task; dark web research can be similar to knowing that a party is taking place, but not knowing the address. Analysts need to be ready to hunt, dig and immerse themselves in the underground in order to find the action. In doing so, analysts are exposed to the myriad products and conversations surrounding cybercrime in these spaces, training their eye to be able to filter and identify the real threat.

This in turn allows organizations to better understand what they need to defend themselves against. In order to assess a threat actor’s credibility and the legitimacy of a particular threat, researchers may look at factors such as a threat actor’s reputation or length of time on the darknet.

Companies should prioritize monitoring for data related to their organization, such as proactively searching the dark web to find stolen credentials. Doing so at an early stage can massively reduce the risk or impact of an attack.

Detecting them using threat intelligence services can not only prevent additional breaches but also force IT security teams to locate the sources of the initial attacks and fix existing problems so attacks cannot occur again through that vector.

Stay alert and keep watch

In addition to looking for stolen credentials, it is also wise to monitor (using defined search terms) for documents or PII which might have been stolen or unintentionally leaked. Stricter data protection regulations mean that data leaks can have an even larger impact on an organization’s bottom line, as well as its reputation. In the event of a GDPR penalty, a company that can demonstrate robust detection capabilities can vastly reduce its liabilities.

A network of crawlers and sensors can alert organizations when their credentials have been offered for sale on the dark web – if you know what’s been stolen, it’s easier to block and mitigate damage. Good cyber threat intelligence is crucial to providing this feedback of information to build stronger defenses around any business.

Tracking for crimeware kits, malware, threat actors and TTPs that could target their sector more generally can also help security teams strengthen their security posture, broaden their situational awareness and put in place appropriate defense measures before adversaries can strike. 

The best way to fight cybercrime on the darknet is to operate in much the same way as the bad guys. If you understand the scope of what’s available to criminals, it’s a lot easier to rationalize how to defend against cyber-attacks and enable others to do the same. Collaboration and intelligence sharing is crucial in the fight against cybercrime.

Categorized in Deep Web

[Source: This article was published in fbi.gov - Uploaded by the Association Member: Carol R. Venuti]

Operation SaboTor, a multi-agency law enforcement action between January and March 2019 that targeted opioid sales on the Darknet, included this search of a vehicle and a residence in California. The search was the result of an eight-month investigation that led to five arrests.

When Knoxville first responders found a man dead in his home, there was clear evidence on the scene of the heroin that caused his overdose. Also nearby were clues to how the deadly drugs had reached him. Investigators found a padded manila envelope with postage and markings that provided them another link back to the online drug sellers who have proliferated on the Darknet in recent years.

Drug traffickers are increasingly using anonymous online networks to sell narcotics, including potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl, to buyers who can order and receive the drugs without ever leaving home. What can appear to be a regular e-commerce transaction is one of the delivery channels fueling a deadly nationwide epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drug overdose deaths have been on an upward climb for several years, across the United States and across all demographic groups. In 2017 alone, 70,237 people in this country died of a drug overdose; two-thirds of those deaths involved an opioid.

As part of a government-wide effort to address the epidemic, the Department of Justice created the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team in 2018 to leverage the power of federal and international partnerships to combat the complex and deadly threat of online drug sales.

Now in its second year, J-CODE is delivering results through coordinated efforts and the commitment of the nation’s law enforcement agencies to address opioid sales on the Darknet. Building on the success of last year’s Operation Disarray, the J-CODE team led Operation SaboTor between January and March of this year. These concentrated operations in the United States and abroad led to 61 arrests and shut down 50 Darknet accounts used for illegal activity. Agents executed 65 search warrants, seizing more than 299 kilograms of drugs, 51 firearms, and more than $7 million ($4.504 million in cryptocurrency, $2.485 million in cash, and $40,000 in gold).

“This is a new and evolving threat, and we found that no one agency can do it alone.”

Maggie Blanton, special agent, FBI Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit

J-CODE joins the efforts of the FBI with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Defense (DOD). As many of these markets cross borders, Europol is also an invaluable international partner in J-CODE’s efforts to make a global impact on Darknet drug trafficking.

“This is a new and evolving threat, and we found that no one agency can do it alone,” said FBI Special Agent Maggie Blanton of the Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit at FBI Headquarters. “The FBI may get information from local law enforcement after an overdose or arrest. Through that tip, we can work with our federal partners with the Postal Inspection Service, because so often the drugs are moving through the mail. Our Customs and Border Protection partners are a great resource on understanding trends and preventing drugs from coming into the country from abroad, and our partnership with DEA is critical because of their experience and expertise with drug cases.”

The evidence gathered from that overdose death in Knoxville, for example, was shared with local law enforcement and then with USPIS, the FBI, and other partners. The eight-month investigation led to the arrest of five suspects in the Los Angeles area in March 2019 who are believed to be behind at least two online drug sites that shipped out an estimated 1,500 parcels each month. Search warrants carried out on a residence rented by the suspects and two of their vehicles uncovered drugs, a loaded gun, mailing supplies, computers, cell phones, and transaction receipts.

FBI Special Agent Nathan Cocklin said members of his Hi-Tech Organized Crime squad from the Los Angeles Field Office, along with USPIS inspectors, interviewed the suspects as they were brought into custody. He said the suspects claimed they were just running a business, making money, and not considering the impact of their online sales. “It’s a transaction only,” Cocklin said of the Darknet marketplaces. “They don’t even know each other’s real names.” He said the suspects never considered that a package dropped in a mailbox in Southern California could mean the loss of a life in eastern Tennessee.

Drugs uncovered in a March 2019 search in California of a residence and vehicle involved in a Darknet drug investigation by the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team.
Members of the J-CODE team conduct a search of a residence and vehicle in California in March 2019, where drugs were among the items seized.

A Multi-Agency, Multi-Layered Approach

The Darknet is a part of the Internet accessed through a specialized browser called Tor. Tor allows users to better hide who they are, where they are, and what they are doing online. Darknet marketplaces offer illicit goods that range from hacked bank accounts and stolen credit card information to guns and drugs.

“It’s become easier to get onto the Darknet marketplaces—all you need is a smartphone or computer,” said Chris Oksala, a supervisory special agent with DEA. “There are multiple ways to pay for the drug—from cryptocurrencies to Western Union transfers—and there are multiple ways to shield your identity.”

But on the other side of the seeming ease and anonymity of buying and selling on the Darknet is the hard work being done by law enforcement, in concert, to combat the illegal activity occurring online—from targeting the marketplaces and the sellers to reaching out to those buying illegal wares online.

“These are very complex and time-consuming cases for one agency,” said Kyle Rau, USPIS program manager for Darkweb investigations. “The ‘one government’ approach allows us to tap into each agency’s strength and allows each agency to focus on a particular task.”

The FBI and its law enforcement partners in the United States and abroad have had tremendous success in recent years taking down some of the largest and most profitable Darknet marketplaces. In 2017, law enforcement seized the AlphaBay marketplace, believed to be the largest Darknet market at the time. That seizure was followed by a takedown of Hansa market, another major player.

“It is harder to get the infrastructure up,” stressed Cocklin. “To compare it to a normal drug organization, a dealer is easier to replace than the head of the organization. If you take out a marketplace, you have to rebuild. It takes money and time and undermines trust. Did taking out AlphaBay and Hansa stop everything? No. Did it make an impact? Absolutely.”

The next-level target is the Darknet drug trafficking organizations. The goal of Operation Disarray and Operation SaboTor, along with the ongoing work of J-CODE partners, is to identify and arrest those behind the online sales.

“It takes work, but the FBI, USPIS, DEA, and others are laser-focused on tackling the opioid epidemic on the web.”

Nathan Cocklin, special agent, FBI Los Angeles

The final prong of the J-CODE effort is educating the public on the dangers of opioids by contacting individuals who are known to have purchased drugs online. Sometimes the message arrives too late. In locating and contacting buyers, the J-CODE team often comes across death notices and obituaries. In some cases, agents learn from buyers that they had survived an overdose; in other cases, agents learn from family members that a buyer did not. Oksala stressed that many of the drugs being sold online carry the added danger of unknown, powerful chemicals. “People are making thousands of pills at a time, doing the formulation without any scientific training,” he said.

The agents arrive with information on addiction and treatment, and their very presence challenges the anonymous nature of the Darknet. “If they know someone is looking, people lose faith in the marketplace,” said Rich Sheehan, USPIS assistant inspector in charge. “We’ve proven time and time again that they are not anonymous.”

”We are able to identify people,” said Cocklin. “It takes work, but the FBI, USPIS, DEA, and others are laser-focused on tackling the opioid epidemic on the web.”

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 Source: This article was Published securityintelligence.com By Jasmine Henry - Contributed by Member: Deborah Tannen

The dark component of the deep web is the primary highway for the exchange and commerce among cybercriminal groups. In fact, very few cybercriminals work alone. Eighty percent of cybercrime is linked to criminal collectives, and stolen data-shaped goods surface rapidly on darknet forums and marketplaces following cybersecurity incidents with data loss.

Adapting to these trends is essential. Organizations with the ability to extract threat intelligence from data-mining these elusive online sources can achieve a significant security advantage.

Deep Web and Darknet: What’s the Difference?

The part of the web accessible through search engines and used for everyday activities is known among researchers as the surface web. Anything beyond that is defined as the deep web. While estimates vary, some researchers project there is 90 percent more deep websites than surface ones, according to TechCabal. In the deep web are unindexed websites that are not accessible to everyday Internet users. Some restrict access, others are routed through many layers of anonymity to conceal their operators’ identity.

Darknet websites and technologies are a subset of the deep web classification, which consists of sites intentionally hidden and generally only accessible through technologies like The Onion Router (Tor), a software that facilitates anonymous communication, or peer-to-peer (P2P) browsers. This hidden web is closely associated with anonymity and (in some cases) criminal activity supported by open exchange and collaboration between threat actors.

How to Draw Dark Threat Intelligence

“Dark web intelligence is critical to security decision-making at any level,” said Dave McMillen, senior analyst with X-Force IRIS at IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS). “It is possible to collect exploits, vulnerabilities and other indicators of compromise, as well as insight into the techniques, tactics, and procedures [TTPs] that criminals use for distinct knowledge about the tools and malware threat actors favor.”

When this real-time threat data is filtered through sufficient context and separated from false positives, it becomes actionable intelligence. McMillen believes there are several ways organizations can benefit from dark-sourced intelligence. These benefits include understanding emerging threat trends to develop mitigation techniques proactively. Dark-source intelligence could also help with identifying criminal motivations and collusion before attacks. It could even aid in attributing risks and attacks to specific criminal groups.

How to Identify Darknet Security Risks

For expert threat researchers like McMillen, patterns of deep web activity can reveal an attack in progress, planned attacks, threat trends or other types of risks. Signs of a threat can emerge quickly, as financially-driven hackers try to turn stolen data into profit within hours or minutes of gaining entry to an organization’s network.

The average time it takes to identify a cybersecurity incident discovery is 197 days, according to the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study from the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by IBM. Companies who contain a breach within 30 days have an advantage over their less-responsive peers, saving an average of $1 million in containment costs.

“Employing dark web monitoring solutions that allow the use of focused filters to identify key phrases, such as your brand and product names, that may contain information that can negatively affect your organization is a good start in your effort to glean useful intelligence from the dark web,” McMillen said.

The collected data should then be alerted and routed through a human analysis process to provide actionable insights. Context-rich threat intelligence can reveal many different forms of risk.

1. Organization or Industry Discussion

Among the key risk factors and threats are mentions of an organization’s name in forum posts, paste sites, channels or chatrooms. Contextual analysis can determine whether threat actors are planning an attack or actively possess stolen data. Other high-risk discussions can surround niche industries or verticals, or information on compromising highly-specific technologies employed by an organization.

2. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Exchange

When a breach has occurred, the sale of PII, personal health data, financial data or other sensitive information can be indicative of the aftermath of an attack. A single data record can sell for up to $20, according to Recorded Future. This data is generally stolen en-masse from large organizations — such as credit agencies and banks — so a few thousand credit card numbers can turn a huge profit.

Unsurprisingly, 76 percent of breaches are financially motivated, according to the 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report from Verizon.

3. Credential Exchange

Lost or stolen credentials were the most common threat action employed in 2017, contributing to 22 percent of data breaches, according to the Verizon report. While the presence of usernames and passwords on paste sites or marketplaces can indicate a data breach, contextual analysis is required to determine whether this is a recent compromise or recycled data from a prior incident.

In May 2018, threat intelligence company 4iQ uncovered a massive floating database of identity information, including over 1.4 billion unencrypted credentials.

“The breach is almost two times larger than the previous largest credential exposure,” Julio Casal, founder of 4iQ, told Information Age.

4. Information Recon

Social engineering tactics are employed in 52 percent of attacks, according to a February 2018 report from security company F-Secure. Collusion around information recon can surface in both open and closed-forum exchanges between individual threat actors and collectives.

5. Phishing Attack Coordination

As phishing and whaling attacks become more sophisticated, deep web threat intelligence can reveal popular TTPs and risks. Coordination around information recon is common. Threat actors can now purchase increasingly complex phishing-as-a-service software kits and if defenders are familiar with them, they can better educate users and put the right controls in place.

dir=”ltr”>Although malicious insiders cause fewer breaches than simple human error, the darknet is an established hub for criminal collectives to recruit employees with network credentials for a sophisticated attack. Dark Reading tracked nearly twice as many references to insider recruitment on darknet forums in 2016 as in 2015.

7. Trade Secrets and Sensitive Asset Discussions

Trade secrets and competitive intelligence are another lucrative aspect of threat actor commerce that can signal risks to researchers. In one recent incident reported by CNBC in July 2018, a likely Russian cybercriminal sold access to a law firm’s network and sensitive assets for $3,500. Having had that information ahead of time could have saved the victim time, money, and reputational damage.

What Are the Challenges to Deriving Value From Dark Sources?

While there is clear strategic and tactical value to darknet threat intelligence, significant challenges can arise on the road to deep web threat hunting and data-mining. For instance, it’s not ideal to equip security operations center (SOC) analysts with a Tor browser. The potential volume of false positives based on the sheer size of the hidden web necessitates a more effective approach.

“The dark web is fragmented and multi-layered,” McMillen said.

When researchers discover a credible source, it generally requires hours to vet intelligence and perform a complete analysis. Darknet commerce has also grown increasingly mercurial and decentralized as law enforcement tracks criminal TTPs as they emerge. Security leaders who can overcome these barriers have the potential to significantly improve security strategy in response to emerging threat trends and risk factors.

The 2018 Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Cyber-Security Study from the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by IBM Security, discovered that artificial intelligence (AI ) could provide deeper security and increased productivity at lower costs. Sixty-nine percent of respondents stated that the most significant benefit of AI was the ability to increase speed in analyzing threats.

As leaders consider how to deepen adoption of dark threat intelligence, it’s valuable to understand that not all intelligence sources can adequately capture the full scope of threat actor exchange on this vast, fast-morphing plane. Relying on stagnant, outdated or fully automated technologies may fail to mitigate important risks. The best mode of protection is one which combines the intelligence of skilled human researchers and AI to turn raw data into actionable intelligence effectively.

Categorized in Deep Web

Illegal Search Engines is what you’re here for, and let me start by saying that they aren’t as bad as they sound.

Here, the concept of “illegal” doesn’t imply that using these search engines is illegal, what it does imply is that these search engines may help you stumble upon websites and link which may be illegal in some countries.

Or, these may be search engines which do not track you or invade your privacy and quite frankly do not care if you use them to get to the other side of the law (although I’ll strictly advise against it).

In simpler terms these are just better Search Engine than Google, better in the sense that they may display better, hidden, or exclusive results such as .onion links or they may grant you the privacy and anonymity that Google strips you off.

11 Best Illegal Search Engines to Browse the DarkNet.

Note that, using these Search Engines isn’t “illegal” by itself, although using the search engine, landing on an illegal deep web marketplace and then buying something or getting involved with anything illegal totally is illegal, even on the deep web!

Let’s teleport you to the land of Illegal Search Engines then?

Note: If you are first-time deep web user and you don’t know how to access the deep web links and how you can make secure you while at the deep web access then check out below-given guide.

1. Ahmia

Website: http://msydqstlz2kzerdg.onion/

It can in a sense be termed as one of the hidden search engines on the clearnet I suppose, for the reason that it is a search engine for .onion links, which are hidden on the Clearnet and can be browsed only on the Tor network!

Although Ahmia in itself is completely legal, and actually pretty trustworthy, backed by Tor2Web and Global Leaks projects!

The primary reason why I consider it better than Google is because of its display of hidden sites on the Tor network (.onion) which Google completely avoids.

So, if you know not where to start on the Deep web, this can be a pretty good place to do so!

2. The Uncensored Hidden Wiki

Website: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Talking of “Starting points” for the Deep web, this quite literally is the answer. What does a search engine mean?

A place where you can find links to other important websites and places you can visit, something like that isn’t that right?

The Uncensored Hidden Wiki is exactly that, it lists most of the important, most visited and popular sites both legal and illegal (primarily, and mostly illegal) without discrimination for you to visit.

It’s more like an illegal search engines list in itself, or more like illegal websites list or a directory basically “illegal” being the key-word here.

Even though not every link over there works, 60-70% of them do, although you may want to visit our list of 30 Tor most popular Tor websites which has a 100% working link collection to Tor websites! (Illegal ones too, yeah!)

3. Parazite

Website: http://kpynyvym6xqi7wz2.onion

This is one of the hidden search engines I visit when I’m feeling bored, yeah it can totally turn your mood around with its “I’m feeling lucky” kind of feature.

Meaning, it can be used to land on random, unknown websites on the Deep web, which quite often turn out to be “not so legal” such as a Bitcoin money launderer maybe, or a bad website.

But, it does have that feeling you get when opening a door and not knowing what lies on the other side of it.

As a Search Engine, it not only brings “links” to you but a collection of hidden files and data caches as well, which include some of the most weird things such as real-life cannibalism documentaries or shocking photos/theories etc.

You should feel free to use Parazite as using it isn’t illegal, neither is landing on almost any page on the Deep web as long as you don’t “use” the page for your personal gains.

4. Tor Links

Website: http://torlinkbgs6aabns.onion/

It again is a link directory, something identical to the Uncensored Hidden Wiki, but obviously, it has its differences.

It has a better user-interface and is slightly graphic rich for starters, the links too differ although its categories section on top helps you narrow things down.

As it’s similar to the Hidden Wiki, it too is a great place for you to start if you just ventured on the Deep web and aren’t sure of your destinations.

Although it terms itself as “a moderated replacement for the Hidden Wiki”, pertaining to the fact that quite a few of the Hidden Wiki links are dead, and I found more of those “working” links here when compared to the Hidden Wiki.

Note that it does list illegal sites, and browsing them isn’t illegal, but try not to order something for yourselves over there.

It’s here on this list of Illegal search engines because it has links, a lot of them which are illegal pure and simple.

5. Torch

Website: http://xmh57jrzrnw6insl.onion/

TOR(CH) stands for TOR+ Search. Well, they also have a clearnet URL but I’m sure you wouldn’t want to use it for obvious reasons.

It’s one of the oldest search engines in the industry and claims to have an index of over a million pages which is plausible.

As for “Onion” pages, the number is 479613 to be exact, just short of half a million which we can live with.

The only aspect I’m not a fan of when it comes to Torch is its massive ad-spamming! There are ads on the homepage, on the search results and everywhere else.

It does totally fit the bill when it comes to illegal search engines because its onion version fearlessly displays not only search results, but even ads which clearly are on the other side of the law.

6. Not Evil

Website: http://hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion/

Be fooled not by the simplicity that you witness in the above screenshot! Literally almost every website and article on the web about unconventional search engine has mentioned “Not Evil”.

Why? Well, when it has spent the better part of its existence indexing over 28056215 hidden links on the search engine, that’s something it deserves, don’t you agree?

Obviously, the number of hidden links is more, way more when compared to that of Torch.

You can filter if you wish to see only the “Title” of the result, or the complete “URL” hence putting you in the driver’s chair for your searches.

It also lets you chat with humans, or bots, instantly, with a single click without any kind of signup or registration so that’s a nice addition in case you wish to verify the authenticity of the deep web links or just talk about what to have for dinner.

7. Gibiru

Website: http://gibiru.com/

Gibiru markets itself as “Uncensored Anonymous Search”; so even though it doesn’t display .onion links, it still is better search engine than Google for the simple reason that it respects your privacy.

Some of its advanced privacy features include user agent spoofing, a free list of IP addresses to choose from, cookie deletion etc.

So basically, it not only “doesn’t” track you or your searches, but also provides you with some of the best ways to protect you further just in case.

I believe it’s the right fit for this illegal search engines list as it helps you keep your anonymity and privacy airtight just in case you have ulterior motives, or unconsciously land at a site, or do something which you shouldn’t do.

8. Duck Duck Go

Website: http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/

Duck Duck Go doesn’t need an introduction, it not only is a popular clearnet search engine but also on the Tor network.

In fact, it’s the default search engine for the Tor browser as well.

It’s not one of those illegal search engines by any definition, and is almost the same thing as Google, with just a lot more privacy and anonymity than what Google offers.

It doesn’t track “any” information about its users (us), not history, nor cookies neither web activities. Because of this, the search results are exactly the same for everyone using the search engine because there’s no personalization.

But well I’ll trade my “personalized results” any day of the week for 100% privacy and “no-tracking” thing which is exactly what the browser offers.

9. HayStack

Website: http://haystakvxad7wbk5.onion/

Haystack has a tagline that reads – The Darknet search engine. I believe the Darknet does qualify as something illegal, or illicit in the least, so obviously yeah the Haystack deserves a seat at this illegal search engines table, don’t you agree?

And not just the tagline, it also has proved itself by indexing over 1.5billion pages! Now that’s a lot! Even though it includes historical onion links which may be dead at the moment, it still counts as an achievement.

They also claim to be the Darknet’s largest search engine although that’s something I haven’t personally verified so wouldn’t vouch for.

There seem to be no ads, none at all which is a good sign, and they do display illegal results directly from deep web marketplaces or individual sellers for drugs, guns and everything else so I guess I was right to include this one here, isn’t that so?

10. Candle

Website: http://gjobqjj7wyczbqie.onion/

The candle is another one of those illegal search engines which don’t really care a lot about what you search for and is happy to serve.

For e.g. I searched for “drugs” and it got me quite a few links which redirected to some marketplaces for the same. It also showed “8793” results, which I’d say is a good indexation number for a term such as this, especially on the onion network.

Again, it only “displays” results which may be illegal, using Candle, or clicking on any of those isn’t illegal in most cases.

The logo seems to be a Google knockoff; although unlike Google there are no ads, no sidebars, basically nothing except Green and Blue text over a Black background.

Anyway, it displays onion results so I guess that satisfies what you came here for, search engine which searches and displays illegal search results, that about right?

11. WWW Virtual Library

Website: http://vlib.org

Finally, would you trust a search engine which is free, not regulated by the government, and was created by the same person who created “THE INTERNET”?

If you answered yes, well you just got your wish! WWW Virtual Library was created by Tim Berners Lee, and even though it’s not exactly a secret search engine cause it’s on the clearnet, it still is quite literally a virtual library.

Now, it also is the oldest data achieve on the internet, and even though it’s not as user-friendly or graphic-rich as the Billion dollar Google.com; it’s known to provide much better, research-oriented and data-rich information on just about any topic including Law, Agriculture, Fashion, Drama ah you name it.

It’s run by a group of volunteers across the globe, and they even accept new members if you’re an expert in something or a specific field and would like to contribute; unlike the centralized Google.

Bottomline, you may stumble upon some golden nuggets over here which Google or other clearnet search engines might be devoid of.

Conclusion

So, that’s a wrap folk as far as this piece on Illegal search engines goes. Now, considering you came here for these, here’s some friendly advise.

Never use any of these illegal search engines without Tor or a good VPN! Why? I said these weren’t illegal, right?

Well, yeah using these sites simply to “browse” isn’t illegal, but what if you land on a website showcasing something illegal? Or get caught in something else which actually is illegal? You never know what lies on the other end of a .onion link.

So, it’s a good precaution to be cautious, using Tor along with a VPN will grant you the extra privacy and security you need to keep yourselves out of trouble even if something does happen, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Anyway, do let me know what you think of these illegal search engines, and what you think of this post as well.

Source: This article was published deepwebsiteslinks.com

Categorized in Search Engine

Short Bytes: The internet is vast, yet an enormous chunk of it is still untouched by the ordinary world. We address that part by the names Deep Web, Darknet, and Dark Web. Darknet is a type of network not accessible using normal modes. Deep Web – which includes dark web as a subset – is the part of the world wide web not indexed by the search engines like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo.

For most of us, the web is limited to ten twenty or maybe fifty websites. Most of this limited collection is in the form of Google sites and services. In reality, the internet is enormous, and it has around one billion websites existing on servers around the globe.

Even with those billion websites, the web isn’t complete. Many believe the world wide web we see is only the tip of an iceberg. Two terms Darknet and Deep Web, in some sense, justify the presence of this hidden web about which most people are unaware. And those who know about the darknet often confuse it with deep web. Whereas, both are completely separate.

What is Deep Web?

Over the centuries, when the technology became advanced, humans built machines capable of diving to the depths of the oceans. That’s how we were able to discover the remains of RMS Titanic. The search engine crawlers do the same work as done by the explorer submarines. They dive into the internet and take a note of whatever they find.

We might have found Titanic, but there is a lot to discover in the bottomless oceans. Similar is the case of the search engine crawlers, they haven’t identified various parts of the World Wide Web, and we call it the Deep Web.

For instance, the search engines won’t be able to access the servers and websites hosting data about some government-led secret alien mission. But the deep web isn’t as mysterious as it sounds. A private network, tagged as deep web, can be right next to your house. It’s just the internet that isn’t within reach of standard search engine crawlers. For instance, the network maintained by some paid streaming service. It is a type of deep web or hidden web. Obviously, the search engines won’t be opting for a monthly subscription to index the catalog of such websites.

What is Darknet?

Contrary to deep web, Darknet is better known to the people. It is an encrypted network built on top of the existing internet, and specific software or tools are required to access the darknet. It is possible, conventional protocols used on the internet might not work on the darknet.

Darknet provides anonymity to the users. One such darknet is Tor or The Onion Router. You require the Tor browser to enter into the Tor’s network.

Tor can be used to visit everyday internet websites, but it also has numerous hidden websites and services which we can’t be accessed on the regular internet. Tor powers them using its protocol known as Tor Hidden Service Protocol. And the websites limited to the Tor network have a special .onion address. Due to this, Tor’s darknet is also known as onionland.

Friend-to-Friend (F2F) networks are another kind of darknet. In this case, two familiar people communicate with each other directly over the internet. They might want to share some file over a P2P connection. Such networks, not accessible by other people, can be encrypted or password protected. So, only the concerned people have the access.

Increasing the confusion…..

What Is Dark Web

Deep Web Dark Web

 


 

There is another thing you would like to be aware of, the dark web. You can think of the dark web as a subset of the deep web. You need to understand the distinction between deep web and darknet, and the fact that the internet and WWW (World Wide Web) aren’t the same things.

The darknet is a network, and the deep web constitutes the chunk of the World Wide Web that is beyond the reach of the search engines. So, we can decipher dark web as the World Wide Web of the darknets like Tor, Freenet, etc. That is, the services and websites running on the darknet is the dark web.

Did you find this helpful? Drop your thoughts and feedback.

Source: This article was published on fossbytes.com by Aditya Tiwari

Categorized in Deep Web

Chances are you’ve heard of the underbelly of the internet — the darknet. It’s an unfathomable web of nefarious marketplaces where illegal trade in everything from contraband to porn thrives and users are assured watertight anonymity.

This all-important feature of anonymity makes the darknet an attractive place for covert activists and terrorists, and hence subjects it to frequent cyberattacks.

The researchers found that not only do the darknet nodes have a higher degree (number of connections per node) but they are also more clustered than in the internet. This is an important feature in bolstering the darknet’s resilience  

However, the darknet has a formidable line of defence in its unique nodal structure. A recent paper by a Spanish team of researchers published in Physical Review E reveals that the darknet is better equipped to deal with attacks than the internet because of some key attributes — most significantly the decentralised nature — of its network topology. Topology refers to the arrangement of elements like nodes and servers in a network.

Both the darknet and the internet show complicated network topologies, which is not surprising considering the sheer geographical breadth covered by the networks. They don’t adhere to your standard, simple network models, but show a high degree of non-trivial features.

Using publicly available data, the researchers broke down the structure of the darknet network at three independent time instances. The researchers found that not only do the darknet nodes have a higher degree (number of connections per node) but they are also more clustered than in the internet. This, they say, is an important feature in bolstering the darknet’s resilience.

The darknet also has a lesser average path length, a measure of the average number of steps required to communicate between two nodes in a network, than the internet. A shorter path length allows the darknet to have more efficiency in information transport, in turn compensating for delay caused by the more decentralised routing protocols followed.

The ‘rich-club effect’ — or the lack of it

But the most distinctive feature of the darknet is, by far, the lack of the so-called “rich-club effect.” Probably named after a social effect observed among rich people who tend to form exclusive clubs, this rich-club effect, when translated to networks, is essentially the tendency of nodes ‘rich’ in connections to be connected to each other as well.

While the internet displays the rich-club effect for nodes with a high degree of connectivity, the darknet doesn’t. This core of richly connected hubs (nodes with high degrees) in the internet lends a sense of centrality to the network, making it stable and suited for the kind of online services we expect from it today. But, like a double-edged sword, it also makes the internet vulnerable to certain kinds of attacks.

While the internet displays the rich-club effect for nodes with a high degree of connectivity, the darknet doesn’t… The lack of this rich-club effect in the darknet network topology is an indicator of its decentralised nature and the primary reason for its resilience  

The lack of this rich-club effect in the darknet network topology is an indicator of its decentralised nature and at the same time the primary reason for its resilience.

The researchers used a stochastic model to create networks that mimic how the darknet network looks and behaves. A stochastic model is one that has an element of randomness in how it operates, rather than following a deterministic set of rules. Using the model after testing it against the network topology analysis accumulated from available data, the researchers then tested the network against attacks of certain types — a topological perturbation (targeted or random attack and removal of nodes) and dynamical perturbation (a cascade effect triggered by the removal of a highly connected node).

The internet (and the darknet) adjust well to attacks that are random in nature and are able to restore function without significant damage. But, both the networks are susceptible to targeted attacks — the kind of planned attacks that they might generally encounter.

The darknet, however, is more robust against such attacks when compared to internet, with nearly four times more disruptions required for a major failure. For attacks indicating a cascading failure, networks can be made resilient by enhancing the load-carrying capacity of nodes. The internet needs almost 50% more enhancement in capacity than the darknet to cope with cascading failures and restore near full operation. The darknet can restore full operation with lesser enhancement — a clear marker of the network’s resilience against such attacks.

The darknet, however, is more robust against such attacks when compared to internet, with nearly four times more disruptions required for a major failure  

The paper analyses the topologies of both the internet and the darknet and comes to the conclusion that the darknet topology, owing to its higher clustering and shorter average path length, is characteristically and crucially different from that of the internet. The absence of a core of highly connected high degree nodes, while making data search difficult makes the darknets network decentralised, in turn increasing its strength against attacks and making the network generally more resilient.

The authors do, however, point out that the degree of decentralisation seemed to decrease over the three years they analysed data for (2013-2015) and it would be interesting to carry out a similar analysis for the modern-day darknet — which seems to be evolving like a giant beast, absorbing clandestine activities, and ensuring maximum anonymity to its bidders.

Categorized in Deep Web

As you may know, the “web” runs deeper than that network of hyperlinked pages you’re browsing right now.

Technically, the portion of the web that search engines like Google (GOOG, -0.32%)and Microsoft (MSFT, 0.00%) Bing catalog is called the “surface web” (though most people will think you’re a weirdo if you call it that). Less accessible portions go by other names.

For those who care to draw a distinction, the “deep web” refers to the region outside public view. This includes pages not indexed by standard search engines, such as password-protected sites, or ones tucked behind a paywall. Many people spend just as much time on the deep web as they do on the surface, if not more.

For example, your online bank account, your Netflix (NFLX, +0.20%) subscription, and perhaps your Facebook (FB, +0.03%) profile page are on the deep web. You’re likely well acquainted with this more private digital world—even if you didn’t realize it.

Finally, there’s the “dark web,” a mere sliver of the deep web. (Don’t worry; I’m not going to show you a diagram of an iceberg.)

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The dark web consists of encrypted networks that have been intentionally hidden from view, and they require special software to access them. Usually, when people refer to the dark web, they’re referring to content hosted on the Tor network, a system of relays that obscures IP addresses, or the locations of devices on a network. (Freenet and I2P are two other networks that support the dark web, but we’ll stick to Tor here.)

You can visit the Tor part of the dark web simply by downloading special browser software from the Tor Project’s website, and connecting to a URL that bears the top-level domain “’dot’ onion.” For instance, the Hidden Wiki, which is only accessible via the Tor browser, has a list of dark web sites. Be careful where you click though, as some sites may contain questionable—possibly even illegal—content.

While there’s no doubt plenty of shady stuff happening on the dark web, the network has a positive side. It helps political dissidents and whistleblowers escape surveillance and disseminate their views, for instance. Indeed, Tor was originally developed by the U.S. military in order to help route intelligence communications—and the U.S. government remains a major funder of the non-profit organization that now maintains it.

Sure, the dark web gets a bad rap for its association with criminal enterprises, like the Silk Road, a much maligned drug marketplace that operated for two years before the Feds shut it down in 2013. But some dark web users simply prefer the anonymity afforded by an encrypted network.

It’s not illegal to try to protect your privacy, after all.

Author : Robert Hackett

Source : http://fortune.com/2017/02/23/dark-web-what-where/

Categorized in Deep Web

The internet is much more than just the publicly available, Google-able web services most online users frequent—and that’s good for free expression. Companies frequently create private networks to enable employees to use secure corporate servers, for example. And free software allows individuals to create what are called “peer-to-peer” networks, connecting directly from one machine to another.

Unable to be indexed by current search engines, and therefore less visible to the general public, subnetworks like these are often called “darknets,” or collective as the singular “darknet.” These networks typically use software, such as Tor, that anonymizes the machines connecting to them, and encrypts the data traveling through their connections.

Some of what’s on the darknet is alarming. A 2015 story from Fox News reads:

“Perusing the darknet offers a jarring jaunt through jaw-dropping depravity: Galleries of child pornography, videos of humans having sex with animals, offers for sale of illegal drugs, weapons, stolen credit card numbers and fake identifications for sale. Even human organs reportedly from Chinese execution victims are up for sale on the darknet.”

But that’s not the whole story—nor the whole content and context of the darknet. Portraying the darknet as primarily, or even solely, for criminals ignores the societal forces that push people toward these anonymous networks. Our research into the content and activity of one major darknet, called Freenet, indicates that darknets should be understood not as a crime-ridden “Wild West,” but rather as “wilderness,” spaces that by design are meant to remain unsullied by the civilizing institutions—law enforcement, governments and corporations—that have come to dominate the internet.

There is definitely illegal activity on the darknet, as there is on the open internet. However, many of the people using the darknet have a diverse range of motives and activities, linked by a common desire to reclaim what they see as major benefits of technology: privacy and free speech.

01_30_freenet_01A pie chart shows the share of Freenet sites devoted to particular types of content.RODERICK S. GRAHAM AND BRIAN PITMAN

Describing Freenet

Our research explored Freenet, an anonymous peer-to-peer network accessed via a freely downloadable application. In this type of network, there are no centralized servers storing information or transferring data. Rather, each computer that joins the network takes on some of the tasks of sharing information.

When a user installs Freenet, her computer establishes a connection to a small group of existing Freenet users. Each of these is connected in turn to other Freenet users’ computers. Through these connections, the entire contents of the network are available to any user. This design allows Freenet to be decentralized, anonymous and resistant to surveillance and censorship.

Freenet’s software requires users to donate a portion of their local hard drive space to store Freenet material. That information is automatically encrypted, so the computer’s owner does not know what files are stored or the contents of those files. Files shared on the network are stored on numerous computers, ensuring they will be accessible even if some people turn off their machines.

Joining the network

As researchers, we played the role of a novice Freenet user. The network allows many different types of interaction, including social networking sites and even the ability to build direct relationships with other users. But our goal was to understand what the network had to offer to a new user just beginning to explore the system.

There are several Freenet sites that have used web crawlers to index the network, offering a sort of directory of what is available. We visited one of these sites to download their list. From the 4,286 total sites in the index we chose, we selected a random sample of 427 sites to visit and study more closely. The sites with these indexes are a part of the Freenet network, and therefore can be accessed only by users who have downloaded the software. Standard search engines cannot be used to find sites on Freenet.

Finding a ‘hacker ethic’

What we found indicated that Freenet is dominated by what scholars call a “hacker ethic.” This term encompasses a group of progressive and libertarian beliefs often espoused by hackers, which are primarily concerned with these ideals:

  • Access to information should be free;
  • Technology can, and should, improve people’s lives;
  • Bureaucracy and authority are not to be trusted;
  • A resistance to conventional and mainstream lifestyles.

Some of that may be because using darknet technology often requires additional technical understanding. In addition, people with technical skills may be more likely to want to find, use and even create services that have technological protections against surveillance.

Our reading of hacking literature suggests to us that the philosophical and ideological beliefs driving darknet users are not well-known. But without this context, what we observed on Freenet would be hard to make sense of.

There were Freenet sites for sharing music, e-books and video. Many sites were focused around personal self-expression, like regular internet blogs. Others were dedicated to promoting a particular ideology. For example, socialist and libertarian content was common. Still other sites shared information from whistle-blowers or government documents, including a copy of the Wikileaks website’s data, complete with its “Afghan War Diary” of classified documents about the United States military invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

With the hacker ethic as a guide, we can understand that most of this content is from individuals who have a deep mistrust of authority, reject gross materialism and conformity, and wish to live their digital lives free of surveillance.

What about crime?

There is criminal activity on Freenet. About a quarter of the sites we observed either delivered or linked to child pornography. This is alarming, but must be seen in the proper context. Legal and ethical limits on researchers make it very hard to measure the magnitude of pornographic activity online, and specifically child pornography.

Once we came upon a site that purported to have child pornography, we left the site immediately without investigating further. For example, we did not seek to determine whether there was just one image or an entire library or marketplace selling pornographic content. This was a good idea from the perspectives of both law and ethics, but did not allow us to gather any real data about how much pornography was actually present.

Other research suggests that the presence of child pornography is not a darknet or Freenet problem, but an internet problem. Work from the the Association for Sites Advocating Child Protection points to pervasive sharing of child pornography well beyond just Freenet or even the wider set of darknets. Evaluating the darknet should not stop just at the presence of illegal material, but should extend to its full content and context.

With this new information, we can look more accurately at the darknet. It contains many distinct spaces catering to a wide range of activities, from meritorious to abhorrent. In this sense, the darknet is no more dangerous than the rest of the internet. And darknet services do provide anonymity, privacy, freedom of expression and security, even in the face of a growing surveillance state.

Roderick S. Graham is assistant professor of Sociology, Old Dominion University. Brian Pitman is instructor in Criminology and Sociology, Old Dominion University.

Source : http://europe.newsweek.com/darknet-resembles-internet-itself-anonymity-550324?rm=eu

Categorized in Deep Web

The internet is much more than just the publicly available, Google-able web services most online users frequent – and that’s good for free expression. Companies frequently create private networks to enable employees to use secure corporate servers, for example. And free software allows individuals to create what are called “peer-to-peer” networks, connecting directly from one machine to another.

Unable to be indexed by current search engines, and therefore less visible to the general public, subnetworks like these are often called “darknets,” or collective as the singular “darknet.” These networks typically use software, such as Tor, that anonymizes the machines connecting to them, and encrypts the data traveling through their connections.

Some of what’s on the darknet is alarming. A 2015 story from Fox News reads:

“Perusing the darknet offers a jarring jaunt through jaw-dropping depravity: Galleries of child pornography, videos of humans having sex with animals, offers for sale of illegal drugs, weapons, stolen credit card numbers and fake identifications for sale. Even human organs reportedly from Chinese execution victims are up for sale on the darknet.”

But that’s not the whole story – nor the whole content and context of the darknet. Portraying the darknet as primarily, or even solely, for criminals ignores the societal forces that push people toward these anonymous networks. Our research into the content and activity of one major darknet, called Freenet, indicates that darknets should be understood not as a crime-ridden “Wild West,” but rather as “wilderness,” spaces that by design are meant to remain unsullied by the civilizing institutions – law enforcement, governments and corporations – that have come to dominate the internet.

There is definitely illegal activity on the darknet, as there is on the open internet. However, many of the people using the darknet have a diverse range of motives and activities, linked by a common desire to reclaim what they see as major benefits of technology: privacy and free speech.

Describing Freenet

Our research explored Freenet, an anonymous peer-to-peer network accessed via a freely downloadable application. In this type of network, there are no centralized servers storing information or transferring data. Rather, each computer that joins the network takes on some of the tasks of sharing information.

When a user installs Freenet, her computer establishes a connection to a small group of existing Freenet users. Each of these is connected in turn to other Freenet users’ computers. Through these connections, the entire contents of the network are available to any user. This design allows Freenet to be decentralized, anonymous and resistant to surveillance and censorship.

Freenet’s software requires users to donate a portion of their local hard drive space to store Freenet material. That information is automatically encrypted, so the computer’s owner does not know what files are stored or the contents of those files. Files shared on the network are stored on numerous computers, ensuring they will be accessible even if some people turn off their machines.

Joining the network

As researchers, we played the role of a novice Freenet user. The network allows many different types of interaction, including social networking sites and even the ability to build direct relationships with other users. But our goal was to understand what the network had to offer to a new user just beginning to explore the system.

There are several Freenet sites that have used web crawlers to index the network, offering a sort of directory of what is available. We visited one of these sites to download their list. From the 4,286 total sites in the index we chose, we selected a random sample of 427 sites to visit and study more closely. The sites with these indexes are a part of the Freenet network, and therefore can be accessed only by users who have downloaded the software. Standard search engines cannot be used to find sites on Freenet.

An introductory page on Freenet. Roderick Graham and Brian Pitman, CC BY-ND

Finding a ‘hacker ethic’

What we found indicated that Freenet is dominated by what scholars call a “hacker ethic.” This term encompasses a group of progressive and libertarian beliefs often espoused by hackers, which are primarily concerned with these ideals:

  • Access to information should be free;
  • Technology can, and should, improve people’s lives;
  • Bureaucracy and authority are not to be trusted;
  • A resistance to conventional and mainstream lifestyles

Some of that may be because using darknet technology often requires additional technical understanding. In addition, people with technical skills may be more likely to want to find, use and even create services that have technological protections against surveillance.

Our reading of hacking literature suggests to us that the philosophical and ideological beliefs driving darknet users are not well-known. But without this context, what we observed on Freenet would be hard to make sense of.

There were Freenet sites for sharing music, e-books and video. Many sites were focused around personal self-expression, like regular internet blogs. Others were dedicated to promoting a particular ideology. For example, socialist and libertarian content was common. Still other sites shared information from whistle-blowers or government documents, including a copy of the Wikileaks website’s data, complete with its “Afghan War Diary” of classified documents about the United States military invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

With the hacker ethic as a guide, we can understand that most of this content is from individuals who have a deep mistrust of authority, reject gross materialism and conformity, and wish to live their digital lives free of surveillance.

What about crime?

There is criminal activity on Freenet. About a quarter of the sites we observed either delivered or linked to child pornography. This is alarming, but must be seen in the proper context. Legal and ethical limits on researchers make it very hard to measure the magnitude of pornographic activity online, and specifically child pornography.

The Conversation logo

Once we came upon a site that purported to have child pornography, we left the site immediately without investigating further. For example, we did not seek to determine whether there was just one image or an entire library or marketplace selling pornographic content. This was a good idea from the perspectives of both law and ethics, but did not allow us to gather any real data about how much pornography was actually present.

Other research suggests that the presence of child pornography is not a darknet or Freenet problem, but an internet problem. Work from the the Association for Sites Advocating Child Protection points to pervasive sharing of child pornography well beyond just Freenet or even the wider set of darknets. Evaluating the darknet should not stop just at the presence of illegal material, but should extend to its full content and context.

A pie chart shows the share of Freenet sites devoted to particular types of content. Roderick Graham and Brian Pitman, CC BY-ND

With this new information, we can look more accurately at the darknet. It contains many distinct spaces catering to a wide range of activities, from meritorious to abhorrent. In this sense, the darknet is no more dangerous than the rest of the internet.

And darknet services do provide anonymity, privacy, freedom of expression and security, even in the face of a growing surveillance state.

Author : Roderick S Graham & Brian Pitman

Source : http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/is-darknet-more-dangerous-than-rest-of-the-internet-117013100232_1.html

Categorized in Deep Web

The internet is much more than just the publicly available, Google-able web services most online users frequent – and that’s good for free expression. Companies frequently create private networks to enable employees to use secure corporate servers, for example. And free software allows individuals to create what are called “peer-to-peer” networks, connecting directly from one machine to another.

Unable to be indexed by current search engines, and therefore less visible to the general public, subnetworks like these are often called “darknets, or collective as the singular darknet.” These networks typically use software, such as Tor, that anonymizes the machines connecting to them, and encrypts the data traveling through their connections.

Some of what’s on the darknet is alarming. A 2015 story from Fox News reads:

Perusing the darknet offers a jarring jaunt through jaw-dropping depravity: Galleries of child pornography, videos of humans having sex with animals, offers for sale of illegal drugs, weapons, stolen credit card numbers and fake identifications for sale. Even human organs reportedly from Chinese execution victims are up for sale on the darknet.

But that’s not the whole story – nor the whole content and context of the darknet. Portraying the darknet as primarily, or even solely, for criminals ignores the societal forces that push people toward these anonymous networks. Our research into the content and activity of one major darknet, called Freenet, indicates that darknets should be understood not as a crime-ridden “Wild West,” but rather as “wilderness,” spaces that by design are meant to remain unsullied by the civilizing institutions – law enforcement, governments and corporations – that have come to dominate the internet.

There is definitely illegal activity on the darknet, as there is on the open internet. However, many of the people using the darknet have a diverse range of motives and activities, linked by a common desire to reclaim what they see as major benefits of technology: privacy and free speech.

Describing Freenet

Our research explored Freenet, an anonymous peer-to-peer network accessed via a freely downloadable application. In this type of network, there are no centralized servers storing information or transferring data. Rather, each computer that joins the network takes on some of the tasks of sharing information.

When a user installs Freenet, her computer establishes a connection to a small group of existing Freenet users. Each of these is connected in turn to other Freenet users’ computers. Through these connections, the entire contents of the network are available to any user. This design allows Freenet to be decentralized, anonymous and resistant to surveillance and censorship.

Freenet’s software requires users to donate a portion of their local hard drive space to store Freenet material. That information is automatically encrypted, so the computer’s owner does not know what files are stored or the contents of those files. Files shared on the network are stored on numerous computers, ensuring they will be accessible even if some people turn off their machines.

Joining the network

As researchers, we played the role of a novice Freenet user. The network allows many different types of interaction, including social networking sites and even the ability to build direct relationships with other users. But our goal was to understand what the network had to offer to a new user just beginning to explore the system.

There are several Freenet sites that have used web crawlers to index the network, offering a sort of directory of what is available. We visited one of these sites to download their list. From the 4,286 total sites in the index we chose, we selected a random sample of 427 sites to visit and study more closely. The sites with these indexes are a part of the Freenet network, and therefore can be accessed only by users who have downloaded the software. Standard search engines cannot be used to find sites on Freenet.

An introductory page on Freenet.
An introductory page on Freenet.

Finding a ‘hacker ethic’

What we found indicated that Freenet is dominated by what scholars call a “hacker ethic.” This term encompasses a group of progressive and libertarian beliefs often espoused by hackers, which are primarily concerned with these ideals:

  • Access to information should be free;
  • Technology can, and should, improve peoples lives;
  • Bureaucracy and authority are not to be trusted;
  • A resistance to conventional and mainstream lifestyles

Some of that may be because using darknet technology often requires additional technical understanding. In addition, people with technical skillsmay be more likely to want to find, use and even create services that have technological protections against surveillance.

Our reading of hacking literature suggests to us that the philosophical and ideological beliefs driving darknet users are not well-known. But without this context, what we observed on Freenet would be hard to make sense of.

There were Freenet sites for sharing music, e-books and video. Many sites were focused around personal self-expression, like regular internet blogs. Others were dedicated to promoting a particular ideology. For example, socialist and libertarian content was common. Still other sites shared information from whistle-blowers or government documents, including a copy of the Wikileaks website’s data, complete with its “Afghan War Diary” of classified documents about the United States military invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

With the hacker ethic as a guide, we can understand that most of this content is from individuals who have a deep mistrust of authority, reject gross materialism and conformity, and wish to live their digital lives free of surveillance.

What about crime?

There is criminal activity on Freenet. About a quarter of the sites we observed either delivered or linked to child pornography. This is alarming, but must be seen in the proper context. Legal and ethical limits on researchers make it very hard to measure the magnitude of pornographic activity online, and specifically child pornography.

Once we came upon a site that purported to have child pornography, we left the site immediately without investigating further. For example, we did not seek to determine whether there was just one image or an entire library or marketplace selling pornographic content. This was a good idea from the perspectives of both law and ethics, but did not allow us to gather any real data about how much pornography was actually present.

Other research suggests that the presence of child pornography is not a darknet or Freenet problem, but an internet problem. Work from the Association for Sites Advocating Child Protection points to pervasive sharing of child pornography well beyond just Freenet or even the wider set of darknets. Evaluating the darknet should not stop just at the presence of illegal material, but should extend to its full content and context.

A pie chart shows the share of Freenet sites devoted to particular types of content.
A pie chart shows the share of Freenet sites devoted to particular types of content. 

With this new information, we can look more accurately at the darknet. It contains many distinct spaces catering to a wide range of activities, from meritorious to abhorrent. In this sense, the darknet is no more dangerous than the rest of the internet. And darknet services do provide anonymity, privacy, freedom of expression and security, even in the face of a growing surveillance state.

Author : Roderick S. Graham and Brian Pitman

Source : https://www.inverse.com/article/26963-darknet-internet-networks-freedom-of-expression

Categorized in Deep Web
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