Mark James talks Dark net

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The BBC reported on the recent raid that “shut down 400-plus dark net sites”. Mark James, ESET Security Specialist, helps guide you through Dark net (aka Deep Web, Invisible Web, or Hidden Web) basics and the possible implications of the raid.


What is the dark net?


The “Dark net” is an area on the internet that is deemed to be private, the network of these private computers is only made from trusted and anonymous machines thus hiding the identity of the users involved, the original concept is designed around friend-to-friend (F2F) this method allows the circle or network to increase without breaking the anonymity of existing users.”


Is the dark net exclusively used for illegal activity?


“Not at all, although it has evolved into an area primarily used for the purchase of drugs, weapons and other lucrative and illegal services as a result of its anonymity, people for a while now have expressed a concern about internet anonymity and these networks are often used by activists and others who want to protect their privacy.”


Will the recent raid have a lasting effect?


“A lasting effect? No, it will cause some inconvenience but it won’t be long before another “Silk Road” emerges, what is important here is the fact that this “private” network was infiltrated and taken down, the message is simply “if you’re going to do something illegal and (assumingly) anonymous then think again” a network (private or not) is no different than a bicycle chain, its only as strong as the weakest link.”


400 sites closed but only 17 arrests, how telling is this about the nature of Cybercrime?


“This has always been the problem with internet type criminal activities, actually arresting people and making charges stick will be the hard part now as more often these people are released without charge, what’s also interesting is their statements regarding what was taken down, the authorities claim 400 hidden services were seized, later reports have clarified that it was hundreds of URLs hosted on roughly 27 web sites offering hidden services, a good catch and more importantly a warning shot to those involved.”


Any closing thoughts about Tor or the Dark net?


Internet anonymity has a place, every person has a right to keep their privacy, but as usual one person’s means to protect themselves turns into another person’s way to flout the law and this is not going to stop anytime soon, the internet is a very large place and it will always be used for good and bad things.”