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For a beginner, it is almost impossible to find a website on the Tor browser or how it works and that’s where dark web search engines help.

To the layperson, their only exists one type of the Internet – the one we use for normal browsing every day. But, in reality, there are 3 main types of the Internet which are crucial to understanding to get an accurate picture of how it works:

1: The Surface Web
2: The Deep Web
3: The Dark Web

The Surface Web

The surface web consists of all the pages that can be indexed by a normal search engine like Google and are available for everyone to see.

The Deep Web

The deep web consists of all those pages that are protected and hence cannot be indexed by a search engine. This protection may come in the form of several security measures such as passwords. An example is a private Instagram profile whose content cannot be displayed in Google search results.

The Dark Web

The dark web consists of all those websites which cannot be accessed using a normal browser and require a special type of network known as The Onion Routing (TOR). All websites there use a .onion appended at the end instead of top-level domains such as “.com”.

Even though the first 2 are not consciously known by the vast majority of users to be distinct types, they are used every day by them. However, the real mystery lies in the third one, the dark web which only makes up a very tiny proportion of the internet containing about just over 65000 URLs.

Out of these too, only about 8000 are active with the majority of existing URLs not working due to various issues. Yet, this is only one part of the problem.

Dark web search engines

Another one is the difficulty in finding dark web websites. Unlike the normal surface web, the site URLs do not have easily rememberable names and hence memorization is not an option in most cases. This naturally poses a question, what dark web search engines are available to fill in for Google? Turns out, there are plenty, here are the top 8 dark web search engines:

1. DuckDuckGo – 3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion

 

Built with the unique selling point of not tracking users, DuckDuckGo has long been used as a replacement for Google by privacy-conscious users. On the other hand, many use it on the dark web as well for its anonymity features. Considering that it is the TOR browser’s default search engine, it says a lot about their reputation for being a good search engine in the community!

2. Torch – cnkj6nippubgycuj.onion

Also known as TorSearch, it claims to be the oldest search engine residing on the dark web along with indexing over a billion pages giving it considerable brownie points. Users are neither tracked nor is there any censorship allowing one to make full use of the information buried within the dark web.

3. Recon – reconponydonugup.onion

This particular search engine was built by Hugbunt3r, a prominent member of the popular Dread service on the dark web. It aims to serve as a database through which users can search for products from different vendors in different marketplaces on the dark web.

Individual profile viewing options for vendors & marketplaces are also available including details like ratings, mirror links, number of listings, and uptime percentage.

4. Ahmia.fi – msydqstlz2kzerdg.onion

An interesting part of Ahmia is that it lets you browse dark web links using a normal browser like Google Chrome. This is even though you would eventually need TOR to access those obtained links but it lets you at least see them this way. On the other hand, it also has an onion URL.

img class="aligncenter wp-image-77808 " src="https://www.hackread.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Top-10-dark-web-search-engines-for-20202.png" alt="" width="738" height="374" srcset="https://www.hackread.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Top-10-dark-web-search-engines-for-20202.png 960w, /

Usage statistics are also available on its site categorized by simple & unique search queries, and simple & unique search results on both the TOR and I2P network. A notable feature of this search engine is that it appears to be simplistic while highly functional at the same time.

Further, it places the comfort of its users at heart with an example being that with one click, it allows you to add your own dark web hidden service to its database.

5. notEvil – hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion

Putting up an aura of simplicity, notEvil is believed to have been modeled after Google. It is also reported that it took its name from Google’s motto back in the day of “don’t be evil”. For searching, users have multiple options to select their results from which are titles, URLs, or both of them combined.

6. Candle – gjobqjj7wyczbqie.onion

Built just about 3 years ago, where the design inspirations came for this site are obvious – Google. Attempting to imitate the kind of simplicity the tech giant has on the dark web has yielded its good traffic with the number of sites indexed growing every day.

7. Haystak – haystakvxad7wbk5.onion

Advertising itself as having indexed over 1.5 billion pages, it sure does deserve a place on the list. However, it should be noted that many of these may not work considering that only a small portion of the sites created on the dark web ever remain online constantly with most being wiped away.It also offers a premium version that can be ordered using a contact form.

8. Kilos – dnmugu4755642434.onion

Kilos is one of the dark web search engines that’s primarily been designed for the Dark Web. It was launched in November 2019 and provides cybercriminals a platform to find answers to their dark queries, search for services on the Dark Web and find the right person to deal with for all the wrong tasks. Such as, if someone wants to deal with Bitcoin secretly, they only have to type the relevant keywords and the deed will be done.

The only drawback is that researchers who have investigated the use of Kilos believe that the search engine helps cyber criminals more than someone eager to learn about dark web markets.

To conclude, you may also find the links of other dark web search engines but these happen to be the ones that stand out the most. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, many sites don’t survive the stain of time in this strange land so it could be that some of these don’t exist tomorrow.

To remain safe, be sure to steer clear from search results that may lead you to illegal sites such as those offering child abuse content, illegal drugs, or weapons as some of these search engines do not censor such results.

[Source: This article was published in hackread.com By Sudais Asif - Uploaded by the Association Member: Robert]

Categorized in Deep Web

While public safety measures have started to relax, the surge of malware accompanying the pandemic is still making headlines. As a recent study points out, hackers have created no less than 130 000 new e-mail domains related to Covid-19 to carry out what analysts now call ”fearware” attacks.

A lot of these domains and attacks are tied to the same source: the dark web. From selling vaccines and fake drugs to simply spreading panic, the dark web has been the host of many pandemic-related threats. And these attacks were just the latest addition to the dark web’s regular activity including, but not restricted to botnets, cryptojacking and selling ransomware.

However, to see how threats from the far reaches of the Internet can affect your company or clients, we must delve deeper into the concept of “dark web’’.

In the first part of our article, we try to understand the dark web’s structure and acknowledge its growing importance to cybersecurity teams.

What is the Dark Web?

Simple users or security specialists, most of us spend our time online the same way: tied to a few popular websites and chat clients or perusing pages through a search engine. This activity, mediated by traditional browsers and apps, accounts for an almost endless amount of content.

But, as copious as this content might seem, it’s only a small percentage of what the Internet has to offer – as little as 4%, according to CSO Online. The rest of it? An enormous collection of unindexed websites, private pages, and secluded networks that regular search engines cannot detect, bearing the generic moniker of ‘’ deep web’’.

The deep web covers just about anything that’s hidden from the public eye, including exclusive and paid content, private repositories, academic journals, medical records, confidential company data, and much more. In a broad sense, even the contents of an e-mail server are part of the deep web.

However, there is a certain part of the deep web that’s noticeably different. How? Well, if the deep web, in general, is content that can’t be found through conventional means, the dark web is that part of it that does not want to be found.

The dark web exists through private networks that use the Internet as support but require specific software to be accessed, as well as additional configurations or authorization. While the dark web is only a small part of the deep web, it allegedly still accounts for around 5% of the entire Internet… and for a lot of its malicious activity.

Since the dark web can’t be accessed directly, users need to use special software such as the Tor browser, I2P, or Freenet. Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is perhaps the best-known means of accessing the dark web, as it is used both as a gateway and a security measure (limiting website interactions with the user’s system). While the protocol itself was initially developed by a Navy division before becoming open source, the project is currently administered by an NGO.

I2P (The Invisible Internet Project) specializes in allowing the anonymous creation and hosting of websites through secure protocols, directly contributing to the development of the dark web.

At this point, it’s worth stating that many dark web sites are not in any way malicious and might just be private for security reasons (journalism websites for countries where censorship is rampant, private chat rooms for people affected by trauma, etc.). It’s also worth noting that platforms such as Tor are not malicious in themselves, with their technology being also used by many legitimate companies. However, the dark web offers two very powerful abilities to its users, both of them ripe for abuse.

These abilities are complete anonymity and untraceability. Unfortunately, their dangers only became visible after Silk Road, probably the world’s largest illegal online market at the time was closed. A similar ripple was also produced by the closing of the gigantic Alphabay, an even more comprehensive follow-up to Silk Road.

The Dangers of Anonymity

The truth is, dark web sites have been known to sell just about anything from drugs and contraband, guns, subscription credentials, password lists, credit cards to malware of all types, as well as multiple other illegal wares. All without any real control, from website owners or authorities, and all under the guard of encryption. Back in 2015, a study classified the contents of more than 2,700 dark web sites and found that no less than 57% hosted illicit materials!

Obviously, this prompted authorities to take action. Some law enforcement agencies have started monitoring Tor downloads to correlate them with suspicious activity, while others, such as the FBI, established their own fake illegal websites on the dark web to catch wrong-doers.

Even with such measures in place, the dark web’s growth is far from coming to a halt. Its traffic actually increased around the Covid-19 pandemic and the technology’s 20th anniversary. It is estimated that in 2019 30% of Americans were visiting the dark web regularly, although mostly not for a malicious purpose. Furthermore, as large social networks increase their content filtering and as web monitoring becomes more prevalent on the „surface web”, the dark web is slowly becoming an ideological escape for certain vocal groups.

While these numbers can put things into perspective, many security experts, from both enterprise organizations and MSSPs, might ask: ”Alright, but what does that have to do with my company? Why do I have to monitor the dark web?”

In the second part of our article, you will learn what Dark Web threats are aimed directly at your enterprise, and how an efficient Threat Intelligence solution can keep them at bay.

[Source: This article was published in securityboulevard.com By Andrei Pisau - Uploaded by the Association Member: Alex]

Categorized in Deep Web

Scraping the Dark Web using Python, Selenium, and TOR on Mac OSX

Warning: Accessing the dark web can be dangerous! Please continue at your own risk and take necessary security precautions such as disabling scripts and using a VPN service.

Introduction

Finding Hidden Services

Method 1: Directories

Method 2: Snowball Sampling

Environment Setup

TOR Browser

VPN

Python

Pandas

pip install pandas

Selenium

pip install selenium

Geckodriver

Firefox Binary

Implementation

from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.firefox.firefox_binary import FirefoxBinary
import pandas as pd
binary = FirefoxBinary(*path to your firefox binary*)
driver = webdriver.Firefox(firefox_binary = binary)
url = *your url*
driver.get(url)

Basic Selenium Scraping Techniques

Finding Elements

driver.find_element_by_class_name("postMain")

driver.find_element_by_xpath('/html/body/div/div[2]/div[2]/div/div[1]/div/a[1]')
driver.find_elements_by_class_name("postMain")

Getting the Text of an Element

driver.find_element_by_class_name('postContent').text

Storing Elements

post_content_list = []
postText = driver.find_element_by_class_name('postContent').text
post_content_list.append(postText)

Crawling Between Pages

for i in range(1, MAX_PAGE_NUM + 1):
page_num = i
url = '*first part of url*' + str(page_num) + '*last part of url*'
driver.get(url)

Exporting to CSV File

df['postURL'] = post_url_list
df['author'] = post_author_list
df['postTitle'] = post_title_list
df.to_csv('scrape.csv')

Anti-crawling Measures

captcha.png

driver.implicitly_wait(10000)
driver.find_element_by_class_name("postMain")
import pandas as pddf = pd.read_csv('scrape.csv')
df2 = pd.read_csv('scrape2.csv')
df3 = pd.read_csv('scrape3.csv')
df4 = pd.read_csv('scrape4.csv')
df5 = pd.read_csv('scrape5.csv')
df6 = pd.read_csv('scrape6.csv')
frames = [df, df2, df3, df4, df5, df6]result = pd.concat(frames, ignore_index = True)result.to_csv('ForumScrape.csv')

Discussion

[Source: This article was published in towardsdatascience.com By Mitchell Telatnik - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]

Categorized in Deep Web

New search engine Kilos is rapidly gaining traction on the dark web for its extensive index that allows users access to numerous dark web marketplaces.

A new search engine for the dark webKilos, has quickly become a favorite among cybercriminals and here’s why.

It all began when the dark web search engine, Grams, launched in April 2014. Grams was an instant hit, proving useful not only to researchers but cybercriminals too.

The search engine used custom APIs to scrape some of the most prominent cybercriminal markets at the time. These include AlphaBayDream Market, and Hansa.

In addition to helping searchers find an illicit product using simple search terms, Grams also provided Helix, a Bitcoin mixer service. That way, users can conveniently hide their transactions on the platform.

Yes, Grams was a revolutionary tool for cybercriminals on the dark web. But, it’s index was still relatively limited.

In a Wired interview, an administrator stated that the team behind Grams didn’t have the capabilities to crawl the whole darknet yet. So, they had to create an automated site submitter for publishers to submit their site and get listed on the search engine.

Despite Grams’ success, it would not remain for long. In 2017, the administrators shut down the search engine’s indexing ability and took the site down.

However, a new search engine would eventually rise to take Grams’ place two years later.

Kilos Became the Favorite Search Engine on the Dark Web

In November 2019, talks of a new dark web-based search engine called Kilos started making rounds on cybercriminal forums.

According to Digital Shadows, it’s uncertain whether Kilos has pivoted directly from Grams or if the same administrator is behind both projects. However, the initial similarities are uncanny.

For example, they both share a similar search engine-like aesthetics. Also, the naming convention remained the same, following the unit for weight or mass measurement.

Expectedly, Kilos pack more weight than Grams ever did.

Thanks to the new search engine, searchers can now perform more specific searches from a more extensive index. Kilos enable users to search across six of the top dark web marketplaces for vendors and listings.

These include CryptoniaSamsaraVersusCannaHomeCannazon, and Empire.

According to Digital Shadows, Kilos has already indexed 553,994 forum posts, 68,860 listings, 2,844 vendors, and 248,159 reviews from seven marketplace and six forums. That’s an unprecedented amount of dark web content.

What’s more, the dark web search engine appears to be improving, with the administrator introducing new updates and features. Some of these features include:

  • Direct communication between administrator and users
  • A new type of CAPTCHA to prevent automation
  • Advanced filtering system
  • Faster searches and a new advertising system
  • New Bitcoin mixer called Krumble

Kilos are gradually becoming the first stop for dark web users. From individuals looking to purchase illicit products to those searching for specific vendors, tons of users now depend on the search engine.

This could further increase the amount of data that’s available to security researchers as well as threat actors.

[Source: This article was published in edgy.app By Sumbo Bello - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jennifer Levin]

Categorized in Search Engine

Silk Road was an internet black market and the first modern-day darknet market. It was founded by Ross William Ulbricht (also known as Dread Pirate Roberts) born in Texas, the U.S. who had a different ideology.

He believed everyone should have the right to buy, sell whatever they want as long as they did not harm anyone.

If we summarise it, it made Ulbricht a millionaire, and later a convict.

It may sound like a Hollywood movie but it is true. Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves narrated a 2015 documentary on the Silk Road legend called Dark Web which chronicles the rise and fall of the black market and its founder.

Initial Days

SilkRoad was first launched in February 2011. Ulbricht started his dark web marketplace development in 2010. It was a side project to Good Wagon Books. The project was designed to use Tor and bitcoin. It was destined that his marketplace to become the catalyst for a revolution.

When it started, there were a limited number of new seller accounts available. So, every new seller has to purchase a merchant account in an auction. Later, each merchant has to give a fixed fee.

How did it work?

As it operated as a Tor hidden service, communications on Silk Road were considered by users to be entirely anonymous. Besides, transactions on Silk Road could only be made using bitcoins.

For customers, the main benefit it had over its rivals was that it was trustworthy.

Same like eBay, it would match consumers and dealers, allows both parties to rate each other, and provide products to be delivered directly to customers’ doors by the unsuspecting mail service.   

Silk Road 1.jpg

His website connected nearly 4,000 drug traders around the world to sell their drugs to more than 100,000 buyers, and could you get you anything you want from fake documents to top-quality heroin.

It is estimated that in its very short span, over $1 billion transferred through Silk Road, giving Ulbricht a secret fortune of an estimated $28 million at the time of his arrest.

Products in Silk Road

Initial listings on Silk Road were to be restricted to products that resulted in ‘victimless crimes’. On that foundation, products linked to the likes of stolen credit cards, assassinations, weapons of mass destruction and child pornography were banned.

Silk Road 2.jpg

Ulbricht became unwilling or unable to maintain the standards that he had initially set and indeed had relaxed the policy on banning the sale of weapons based on a view that increased firearm regulations were making it harder for people to purchase guns, in contrast with his libertarian values. Furthermore, as the site evolved, more and more ‘contraband’ products began to be listed.

There were also legal goods and services for sale, such as apparel, art, books, cigarettes, erotica, jewelry, and writing services. A sister site, called “The Armoury”, sold weapons (primarily firearms) during 2012, but was shut down, due to a lack of demand.

The End of the Silk Road

Although the authorities were aware of the existence of Silk Road within a few months of its launch, it took over two years from that time for Ulbricht’s identity to be revealed.

Ulbricht may have included a reference to Silk Road on his LinkedIn page, where he discussed his wish to “use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind” and claimed, “I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.” Ulbricht moved to San Francisco before his arrest.

Ulbricht was first connected to “Dread Pirate Roberts” by Gary Alford, an IRS investigator working with the DEA on the Silk Road case, in mid-2013.

The connection was made by linking the username “altoid”, used during Silk Road’s early days to announce the website and a forum post in which Ulbricht, posting under the nickname “altoid”, asked for programming help and gave his email address, which contained his full name.

On an October afternoon in a public library in San Francisco, Ross Ulbricht’s dream of an online libertarian paradise came to a sudden end. The FBI had finally caught up with Ulbricht having infiltrated the Silk Road.

At the time of his arrest, he was logged into Silk Road as an administrator and using his Dread Pirate Roberts alias to unknowingly communicate with an undercover FBI agent. Agents found that Ulbricht’s laptop had tens of millions of dollars of bitcoin on it, with millions more stored on USB drives found in his apartment.

The computer also contained Ulbricht’s private journal, which contained damning evidence against him. Within hours of his arrest, Silk Road’s domain had been seized, the market was shut down and Ross Ulbricht’s grand plans to make the world a better place were in disarray.

Silk Road 3.jpg

Aftermath – Silk Road

As part of their investigation into Silk Road, the FBI had caught up with several other Silk Road users and administrators while hunting for Dread Pirate Robert. Prosecutors alleged that Ulbricht paid $730,000 to others to commit the murders, although none of the murders occurred.

The FBI initially seized 26,000 bitcoins from accounts on Silk Road, worth approximately $3.6 million at the time. An FBI spokesperson said that the agency would hold the bitcoins until Ulbricht’s trial finished, after which the bitcoins would be liquidated.

In October 2013, the FBI reported that it had seized 144,000 bitcoins, worth $28.5 million and that the bitcoins belonged to Ulbricht.

The complaint published when Ulbricht was arrested included information the FBI gained from a system image of the Silk Road server collected on 23 July 2013. It noted that “From February 6, 2011, to July 23, 2013, there were approximately 1,229,465 transactions completed on the site. The total revenue generated from these sales was 9,519,664 Bitcoins, and the total commissions collected by Silk Road from the sales amounted to 614,305 Bitcoins. These figures are equivalent to roughly $1.2 billion in revenue and $79.8 million in commissions, at current Bitcoin exchange rates…”, according to the September 2013 complaint, and involved 146,946 buyers and 3,877 vendors.

On 27 June 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service sold 29,657 bitcoins in 10 blocks in an online auction, estimated to be worth $18 million at contemporary rates and only about a quarter of the seized bitcoins. Another 144,342 bitcoins were kept which had been found on Ulbricht’s computer, roughly $87 million.

Trial

Ulbricht’s trial began on 13 January 2015 in federal court in Manhattan. At the start of the trial, Ulbricht admitted to founding the Silk Road website but claimed to have transferred control of the site to other people soon after he founded it.

In the second week of the trial, prosecutors presented documents and chat logs from Ulbricht’s computer that, they said, demonstrated how Ulbricht had administered the site for many months, which contradicted the defense’s claim that Ulbricht had relinquished control of Silk Road. Ulbricht’s attorney suggested that the documents and chat logs were planted there by way of BitTorrent, which was running on Ulbricht’s computer at the time of his arrest.

On 4 February 2015, the jury convicted Ulbricht of seven charges, including charges of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and computer hacking. He faced 30 years to life in prison.

The government also accused Ulbricht of paying for the murders of at least five people, but there is no evidence that the murders were carried out, and the accusations never became formal charges against Ulbricht.

During the trial, Judge Forrest received death threats. Users of an underground site called The Hidden Wiki posted her personal information there, including her address and Social Security number. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he and his client “obviously, and as strongly as possible, condemn” the anonymous postings against the judge.

In a letter to Judge Forrest before his sentencing, Ulbricht stated that his actions through Silk Road were committed through libertarian idealism and that “Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices” and admitted that he made a “terrible mistake” that “ruined his life”.

On 29 May 2015, Ulbricht was given five sentences to be served concurrently, including two for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He was also ordered to forfeit $183 million. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he would appeal the sentencing and the original guilty verdict.

On 31 May 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Ulbricht’s appeal and affirmed the judgment of conviction and life sentence.

Ulbricht’s family continues to campaign to “free Ross Ulbricht from a barbaric, double life sentence for all non-violent charges”, with a website in place to accept donations towards lawyer fees.

 [Source: This article was published in darkweb.wiki - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank]

Categorized in Search Engine

Regardless of its predominantly negative connotations, an increasing number of people have started using the dark web to keep their online activity hidden.

According to PreciseSecurity.com research, North America is the most active region globally in this part of the internet. More than 30 percent of North Americans have used the deep web regularly during 2019.

The dark web represents a network of untraceable online activity and websites on the internet that cannot be found using search engines. Accessing them depends upon specific software, configurations, or authorization.

The 2019 survey showed that North America is the leading region in daily usage of the dark web. The statistics indicate that 26 percent of North Americans admitted using the dark web daily. Another 7 percent of them accessed the deep net at least once a week.

Latin Americans ranked second on this list, with 21 percent of respondents visiting the dark web every day and 13 percent weekly. With 17 percent of citizens utilizing it every day, Europe took third place on the global deep net usage list. Another 11 percent of Europeans admitted to doing so at least once a week.

The 2019 data showed online anonymity was by far the most common reason globally for accessing the Tor and the dark web. Nearly 40 percent of respondents used the deep net during the last year to stay anonymous. Another 26 percent of them claimed to use it to retrieve the usually unavailable content in their location. This reason is more ordinary in Middle Eastern, African, and BRICS countries. Other reasons include overcoming governmental censorships and protecting online privacy.

Nearly 25 percent of North Americans used the hidden web in 2019 to ensure their privacy from foreign governments. Another 38 percent of them named protecting the privacy from the internet companies as the leading reason for using the deep web.

The recent surveys revealed some interesting facts about the reasons why people don’t use technologies like Tor to access the dark web. Nearly 50 percent of respondents globally stated that it is because they don’t know how to, while 45 percent of them have no reason for doing so. One in ten citizens views these technologies as unreliable, and only 13 percent of them appear to be concerned about perceptions that it is used by criminals.

 [Source: This article was published in techdigest.tv - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jennifer Levin]

Categorized in Deep Web

In the popular consciousness, the dark web is mostly known as the meeting place of terrorists and extortionist hackers. While there are other, less malicious players afoot, corporations and organizations need to know the real dangers and how to protect against them.

Dark. Mysterious. A den of thieves. A front for freedom fighters. It is many things for many different kinds of people, all of whom by nature or necessity find themselves driven to the fringes of digital society. It is the dark web. 

There’s still plenty of misinformation floating around out there about this obscure corner of the internet. The average cyber citizen is unaware of its very existence. Even for those intimately familiar with the dark web, accurate predictions as to its behavior and future effect on broader internet culture have remained elusive; predictions foretelling its mainstreaming, for instance, seem less and less likely with each passing year. The problem is, this is one case where ignorance isn’t always bliss. Dark web relevance to the general population is becoming more painfully apparent with every breaking news story about yet another data breach.

The amount of personal information accessible via a web connection these days is staggering. Names, addresses, and phone numbers are only the tip of the iceberg. Credit card information, marital status, browsing histories, purchase histories, medical histories (a favorite target of hackers these days) and so much more—every bit and byte of this data is at risk of theft, ransom, exposure and exploitation. A person’s entire life can be up for sale on the dark web without them being any the wiser. That is until their credit card comes up overdrawn, or worse, a mysterious and threatening email graces their inbox threatening to expose some very private information.

But despite the fact that it is the individual being exposed, the ones who truly have to worry are those entities entrusted with storing the individual data of their millions of users. The dark web is a potential nightmare for banks, corporations, government bureaus, health care providers—pretty much any entity with large databases storing sensitive (i.e., valuable) information. Many of these entities are waking up to the dangers, some rudely so, and are too late to avoid paying out a hefty ransom or fine depending on how they handle the situation. Whatever the case, the true cost is often to the reputation of the entity itself, and it is sometimes unrecoverable.

It should be obvious at this point that the dark web cannot be ignored. The first step to taking it seriously is to understand what it is and where it came from.

The landscape

Perhaps the most common misconception regarding the dark web begins with the internet itself. Contrary to popular sentiment, Google does not know all. In fact, it is not even close. Sundar Pichai and his legions of Googlers only index pages they can access, which by current estimates hover in and around the $60 billion mark. Sounds like a lot, but in reality this is only the surface web, a paltry 0.2% to 0.25% of digital space.

Home for the bulk of our data, the other 99.75% is known as the deep web. Research on deep web size is somewhat dated but the conditions the findings are based on appear to point to a growing size disparity, if any changes have occurred at all.

Unlike the surface web, which is made up of all networked information discoverable via public internet browsing, the deep web is all networked information blocked and hidden from public browsing.

Take Amazon as an example. It has its product pages, curated specifically to customer browsing habits and seemingly eerily aware of conversations people have had around their Alexa—this is the Surface Web. But powering this streamlined customer experience are databases storing details for hundreds of millions of customers; including personal identifiable information (PII), credit card and billing information, purchase history, and the like. Then there are databases for the millions of vendors, warehouse databases, logistical databases, corporate intranet, and so on. All in all you are looking at a foundational data well some 400 to 500 times larger than the visible surface.

The dark web is technically a part of this deep web rubric, meeting the criteria of being hidden from indexing by common web browsers. And although microscopically small in comparison it can have an outsized effect on the overall superstructure, sort of like a virus or a cure, depending on how it is used. In the Amazon example, where the dark web fits in is that a portion of its members would like nothing better than to access its deep web data for any number of nefarious purposes, including sale, ransom, or just to sow a bit of plain old anarchic chaos.

Such activities do not interest all dark web users, of course, with many seeing anonymity as an opportunity to fight off corruption rather than be a part of it. The dark web is a complex place, and to fully appreciate this shadow war of villains and vigilantes, how it can affect millions of people every now and then when it spills over into the light, first you have to understand its origins.

Breaking down the numbers

Anonymity is not without its challenges when it comes to mapping out hard figures. The key is to focus on commerce, a clear and reliable demarcating line. For the most part, those only seeking anonymity can stick to hidden chat rooms and the like. However, if a user is looking to engage in illegal activity, in most instances they’re going to have to pay for it. Several past studies and more recent work provide workable insight when extrapolating along this logic path.

First, a 2013 study analyzing 2,618 services being offered found over 44% to involve illicit activity. That number jumped to 57% in a follow up study conducted in 2016. These studies alone project an accelerating upward trend. Short of a more recent comprehensive study, the tried and true investigative maxim of “follow the money” should suffice in convincing the rational mind that this number is only going to grow dramatically. Especially when comparing the $250 million in bitcoin spent in 2012 on the dark web with the projected $1 billion mark for 2019.

Origins and operation

It was the invention of none other than the U.S. military—the Navy, of all branches, if you’d believe it. Seeking an easy way for spy networks to communicate without having to lug heavy encryption equipment to remote and hostile corners of the globe, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) came up with an ingenious solution. Ditching the equipment, it created an overlay network of unique address protocols and a convoluted routing system, effectively masking both the source and destination of all its traffic. By forgoing the traditional DNS system and relying instead on software specific browsers like Tor and Freenet and communication programs like I2P among others, dark web traffic was rendered invisible to traditional crawlers. Furthermore, with these browsers routing traffic through multiple user stations around the world, accurate tracking became extremely difficult. This solution afforded both flexibility and mobility for quick and easy insertion and extraction of human assets while securing sensitive communication to and from the field.

There was only one element missing. As co-creator Roger Dingledine explained, if only U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) personnel used the network it wouldn’t matter that source and destination were masked between multiple user stations. All users would be identifiable as part of the spy network. It would be like trying to hide a needle in a stack of needles. What the dark web needed was a haystack of non DoD users. And so in 2002 the software was made open source and anyone seeking the option to communicate and transact globally was invited to download it. Thousands of freedom-conscious people heeded the call and thus the dark web was born.

But freedom is morally ambiguous, granting expression to the best and worst urges of humanity. This is why security officers and senior executives in banks and businesses, insurance providers and intelligence agencies, all need to know who is using the dark web, what it is being used for, and how imminent is the threat it poses to their operations.

 [This article is originally published in calcalistech.com By riel Yosefi and Avraham Chaim Schneider - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Eric Beaudoin]

Categorized in Deep Web

Almost a third of North Americans accessed the Dark Web daily in 2019

Despite the Dark Web's mostly negative connotation, new research from PreciseSecurity.com has revealed that over 30 percent of North Americans used it regularly during 2019.

Last year saw an increasing number of people beginning to use the Dark Web as a means of keeping their online activity hidden from governments and telecoms.

The Dark Web itself is made up of websites on the internet that cannot be found through traditional search engines. Instead users must rely on specific software such as the Tor browser, configurations or authorization to access these sites.

PreciseSecurity.com's 2019 survey show that North America is the leading region when it comes to daily usage of the Dark Web. The firm's findings revealed that 26 percent of North Americans admitted to using the Dark Web daily while another seven percent accessed it at least once a week.

Dark Web usage

North American may have taken the top spot in terms of Dark Web usage but Latin America was not far behind at second on PreciseSecurity.com's list with 21 percent of respondents saying they visit the deep net daily while thirteen percent said they did so weekly. Europe took third place with 17 percent of citizens utilizing the Dark Web daily and additional 11 percent accessing it at least once a week.

The 2019 survey showed that online anonymity was by far the most common reason for users to access the Dark Web. Almost 40 percent of respondents used it during the last year to stay anonymous online and 26 percent said they used it to retrieve content unavailable in their location despite the fact that using a VPN would be far easier.

Nearly 25 percent of North Americans used the Dark Web to ensure their privacy from foreign governments and another 38 percent used it to protect their privacy from internet companies.

Of those surveyed who don't use Tor or access the Dark Web, almost 50 percent of respondents globally stated that they didn't because they don't know how to while 45 percent said they had no reason for doing so.

[Source: This article was published in techradar.com By Anthony Spadafora - Uploaded by the Association Member: Rene Meyer]

Categorized in Deep Web

Protect yourself by learning about this mysterious digital world

Below the surface, the internet you recognize and use for your browsing is a shadowy, digital netherworld. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime is projected to cost the world more than $6 trillion annually by 2021. At the heart of most cybercrime is the Dark Web.

The Dark Web is making its way into the public sphere more and more, but much remains unclear and misunderstood about this mysterious digital world that most of us will never see. Here’s what you need to know:

Three Layers of the Web

The World Wide Web has three distinct layers. The first is the Surface Web, where most people do searches using standard browsers. The second is the Deep Web, which is not indexed in standard search engines and is accessed by logging in directly to a site; it often requires some form of authentication for access. Finally, there is the Dark Web, which is only accessible through specific browsers. Its most common browser, Tor, encrypts all traffic and allows users to remain anonymous.

Gaining access to Dark Web sites often requires an invitation which is offered only after a substantial vetting process. Purveyors of these sites want to keep out law enforcement, although “white hat” hackers (computer security experts) and law enforcement have successfully broken through. Some identity theft protection services provide Dark Web monitoring to see if your personal information, such as your credit card, has been stolen. Often it is through the monitoring of the Dark Web that security professionals first become aware of massive data breaches by researching the commonality of large troves of personal information being sold.

Never click on any links in an email regardless of how legitimate the email may appear unless you have confirmed the email is indeed legitimate.

It is on these criminal Dark Web sites that all kinds of malware, like ransomware, are bought and sold. Other goods and services bought, sold and leased on these Dark Web cybercrime websites include login credentials to bank accounts, personal information stolen through data breaches, skimmers (devices to attack credit card processing equipment and ATMs) and ATM manuals that include default passwords.

Be Aware of Cybercrime Tools

Amazingly, the Dark Web sites have ratings and reviews, tech support, software updates, sales and loyalty programs just like regular retail websites. Many also offer money laundering services. Additionally, botnets (short for “robot network”) of compromised computers can be leased on the Dark Web to deliver malware as well as phishing and spear phishing emails (these appear to be sent from a trusted sender, but are seeking confidential information).

While the actual number of cybercriminal geniuses is relatively small, they’ve developed a lucrative business model. They create sophisticated malware, other cybercrime tools and their delivery systems, then sell or lease those tools to less sophisticated criminals.

The proliferation of ransomware attacks provides a good example of how this business model operates. Ransomware infects your computer and encrypts all of your data. Once your data has been encrypted, you, the victim of a ransomware attack, are told that a ransom must be paid within a short period of time or your data will be destroyed. Ransomware attacks have increased dramatically in the past few years and are now the fastest growing cybercrime.

Cybersecurity Ventures says companies are victimized by ransomware every 14 seconds, at a cost of $11.5 billion worldwide this year. While the creation and development of new ransomware strains requires great knowledge and skill, most ransomware attacks are being perpetrated by less sophisticated cybercriminals who purchase the ransomware on the Dark Web.

Regardless of how protective you are of your personal information, you are only as safe as the legitimate institutions that have your information.

Phishing, and more targeted spear phishing, have long been the primary way that malware, such as ransomware and keystroke logging malware used for identity theft purposes, are delivered. Phishing and spear phishing lure victims into clicking links within emails that download malware onto their computer systems.

Sophisticated cybercriminals now use artificial intelligence to gather personal information from social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites to produce spear phishing emails with high success rates.

How to Protect Yourself

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from having your information turn up on the Dark Web is to avoid downloading the malware that can lead to your information being stolen or your computer being made a part of a botnet. Never click on any links in an email regardless of how legitimate the email may appear unless you have confirmed that the email is indeed legitimate.

Relying on security software is not enough to protect you, because the best security software is always at least a month behind the latest strains of malware. Regardless of how protective you are of your personal information, you are only as safe as the legitimate institutions that have your information.

In this era of constant data breaches, it is advisable to use an identity theft protection service that will monitor the Dark Web and alert you if your information appears there.  And there are websites which offer guidance on what to do if this happens to you. These monitors are a small flashlight shedding a beam on a very dark section of the digital universe and may help avoid major headaches before it’s too late.

[Source: This article was published in nextavenue.org By Steve Weisman - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]

Categorized in Deep Web

The BBC has made its international news website available via the Tor network, in a bid to thwart censorship attempts.

The Tor browser is privacy-focused software used to access the dark web.

The browser can obscure who is using it and what data is being accessed, which can help people avoid government surveillance and censorship.

Countries including China, Iran and Vietnam are among those who have tried to block access to the BBC News website or programmes.

Instead of visiting bbc.co.uk/news or bbc.com/news, users of the Tor browser can visit the new bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion web address. Clicking this web address will not work in a regular web browser.

The dark web copy of the BBC News website will be the international edition, as seen from outside the UK.

It will include foreign language services such as BBC Arabic, BBC Persian and BBC Russian.

But UK-only content and services such as BBC iPlayer will not be accessible, due to broadcast rights.


What is Tor?

Tor is a way to access the internet that requires software, known as the Tor browser, to use it.

The name is an acronym for The Onion Router. Just as there are many layers to the vegetable, there are many layers of encryption on the network.

It was originally designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory, and continues to receive funding from the US State Department.

It attempts to hide a person's location and identity by sending data across the internet via a very circuitous route involving several "nodes" - which, in this context, means using volunteers' PCs and computer servers as connection points.

Encryption applied at each hop along this route makes it very hard to connect a person to any particular activity.

To the website that ultimately receives the request, it appears as if the data traffic comes from the last computer in the chain - known as an "exit node" - rather than the person responsible.

dark web

Image captionTor hides a user's identity by routing their traffic through a series of other computers.

 As well as allowing users to visit normal websites anonymously, it can also be used as part of a process to host hidden sites, which use the .onion suffix.

Tor's users include the military, law enforcement officers and journalists, as well as members of the public who wish to keep their browser activity secret.

But it has also been associated with illegal activity, allowing people to visit sites offering illegal drugs for sale and access to child abuse images, which do not show up in normal search engine results and would not be available to those who did not know where to look.


While the Tor browser can be used to access the regular version of the BBC News website, using the .onion site has additional benefits.

"Onion services take load off scarce exit nodes, preserve end-to-end encryption [and] the self-authenticating domain name resists spoofing," explained Prof Steven Murdoch, a cyber-security expert from University College London.

In a statement, the BBC said: "The BBC World Service's news content is now available on the Tor network to audiences who live in countries where BBC News is being blocked or restricted. This is in line with the BBC World Service mission to provide trusted news around the world."

On Wednesday, the BBC also announced the UK's first interactive voice news service for smart speakers.

People using an Amazon Alexa-powered device will be able to skip ahead and get more information about the stories they are most interested in.

[Source: This article was published in bbc.com - Uploaded by the Association Member: Patrick Moore]

Categorized in Deep Web
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