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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.

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.

The Conversation

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Source : http://siouxcityjournal.com/opinion/columnists/far-beyond-crime-ridden-depravity-darknets-are-key-strongholds-of/article_03394871-e577-510a-82b2-e23102e327d5.html

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

Keeping Facebook safe and keeping Facebook secure are two different tasks, Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said at recent conference. Security, he explained to the crowd, is building walls of defense to keep threats out. But “safety is bigger than that.”

Stamos explained that the “bigger” form of safety was making use of stolen password dumps on the darknet. Instead of simply comparing the password hashes of Facebook users with those made publicly available, Facebook buys the account dumps hidden on the DNMs.

Database breaches containing electronic healthcare records have routinely popped up on marketplaces like the TheRealDeal. Social media has been regularly exploited too. Earlier this year, 65 million Tumblr accounts surfaced for a surprisingly low price.

Tumblr.png

After the Adobe breach, we learned Facebook that the social media giant mined the Adobe data to find anyone who shared passwords between Facebook and Adobe. The accounts that used the same username (email) and password were “concealed” and received a message with instructions to update their password.

moduleplant id="558"]

“Recently, there was a security incident on another website unrelated to Facebook. Facebook was not directly affected by the incident, but your Facebook account is at risk because you were using the same password in both places,” the Facebook message said.

fb-message.png

Stamos explained that the social media giant hunted the darknet for account and/or server dumps to buy. The team then used a “computationally heavy” method to cross-reference the passwords found in the dumps with Facebook users’ password hashes.

Facebook sandboxed the users after matches were found, keeping the possibly-compromised accounts from the public eye—until the account owner changed the password.

“The reuse of passwords is the No. 1 cause of harm on the internet,” Cnet quoted Stamos on stage. He continued “Even though we provide these options, it is our responsibility to think about those people that choose not to use them.”

The ability that Facebook had regarding cross-referencing passwords found in data breaches and those of Facebook users raised several questions. People wanted to know how Facebook could possibly check their credentials against those found online without storing their login data in plain text. The suspicion that Facebook stored account information in plain text or similar encrypted fashion was not held by a lone conspirator.

moduleplant id="558"]

Chris Long, a security incident response manager at Facebook, explained the process after the 2013 Adobe breach. This was his reply to a commenter on krebsonsecurity.

We used the plaintext passwords that had already been worked out by researchers. We took those recovered plaintext passwords and ran them through the same code that we use to check your password at login time. Like Brian’s story indicates, we’re proactive about finding sources of compromised passwords on the internet. Through practice, we’ve become more efficient and effective at protecting accounts with credentials that have been leaked, and we use an automated process for securing those accounts.

“It can do that because passwords can be used to create hashes, but the reverse isn’t true: hashes can’t be used to recreate the passwords that made them,” Naked Security wrote.

Stamos explained “When somebody logs into Facebook, the password they hand over is passed through a one-way hashing function. If the result matches what Facebook has on record, that user is allowed in.”

Facebook looks for stolen password that are able to pass through Facebook’s hashing algorithm. If it passes and matches the hash file on record for a particular user, “Facebook knows it has hit on a reuser,” Stamos said.

He ended by adding: “Usernames and passwords are an idea that came out of the 1970s mainframe architectures. They were not built for 2016.”

Source : https://www.deepdotweb.com

Author : C. ALIENS

Categorized in Social

What does Edward Snowden think the future will look like with a President Donald Trump at the helm of the US National Security Agency?

"This is a dark moment in our nation's history, but it is not the end of history," said Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed widespread government surveillance, including the bulk collection of internet user information and phone records.

Speaking remotely from Russia to an event hosted by search engine company StartPage in Amsterdam, Snowden urged the audience to get involved in protecting online privacy. Snowden appears regularly at events via video conference. His lawyers recently launched a campaign asking President Barack Obama to pardon him of espionage and other criminal charges Snowden faces for taking and leaking NSA secrets.

"We have to be political," Snowden said. "You have to talk about these things."

Snowden pointed to 2008, when many believed President-elect Obama would pump the brakes on surveillance programs developed by the administration of President George W. Bush. Obama's efforts fell short, Snowden said, as he urged the crowd not to count on politicians to rein in government overreach.

"This will never be the work of politicians. This will only be the work of the people," he said. "We cannot hope for an Obama and we should not fear a Donald Trump -- rather, we should build it ourselves."

Snowden went on to encourage the young people watching to start working on technology that could "guarantee human rights," and not leave it up to governments check their own power.

Before noting that he enjoys his own role as an advocate for freedom from government surveillance, Snowden urged others to respond to the US election by getting involved in pro-privacy causes.

"A vote is a start," he said, "but it will never be enough."

Source:  cnet.com

Categorized in Others

Experts from all over the world have been pointing out the dark side of the deep web for quite some time now. However, new research goes to show there are plenty of legal reasons to use the darknet, as the number of legitimate sites far outpaces the number of underground marketplaces. This is quite a surprising outcome, although it will not put government’s minds at ease by any means.

The Darknet Is About More Than Online Crime

The research unveiled by Terbium Labs is quite interesting to take note of. Most people only know the deep web for its criminal activity, and law enforcement is cracking down on these illegal trades. But every story has two sides to it, and it turns out the number of legitimate deep web sites is far bigger than most people give it credit for.

The deep web offers users an additional layer of anonymity and privacy, which is often associated with online crime.However, there are other reasons to demand more privacy when browsing the Internet. Although the research only pulled data from 400 different sites, it goes to show there are multiple legitimate use cases on the deep web.

As one would come to expect, the results showcase there are many different categories of content to be found on the darknet. Drugs, Fraud, Counterfeits, and Hacking are all prominent site directories, but they only represent a small portion of all onion-based platforms. In fact, 6.8% of all search results returned adult content, which is also deemed as “legal.”

Other legal content one can find on the deep web ranges from hosting Facebook – which is often accessed through the Tor browser – to graphic design firms, political parties, and regular forums to discuss IT-related content. All of this content could easily exist without Tor, were it not for the software to offer more privacy and anonymity.

The research also highlights some worrisome development in the “illicit content” category, though. Even though most deep web discussions revolve around drugs and weapons, they only represent a fraction of what is going on among criminals. Exploitation is a serious offense, and it is becoming more prominent on the darknet than ever before. Exploitation ranges from pornographic, violent content, or any other type of illegal activity involving children.

Weapons of mass destruction are notoriously absent from this darknet findings report. Although exploring 400 web sites may not be the best way to target discussions about WMDs, it goes to show biological agents have not found their way to “traditional’” deep web platforms just yet. But that doesn’t mean it is not there for those who know how the look for it.

The main thing to take away from this research is how one cannot classify the deep web as just a place for criminal activity. However, since no one can grasp the full complexity of the darknet, to begin with, further research is warranted. For now, there is no reason to dismiss the positive side of the deep web, as there are more legitimate use cases than assumed at first.

Source:  livebitcoinnews.com

Categorized in Research Methods
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