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Dark Web: A Cybersecurity Nightmare


The dark web is a section of the internet where every kind of criminal activity flourishes. The hidden websites of the dark web cannot be accessed through conventional web browsers. Threat actors use specifically designed web browsers such as TOR to discover these dark web addresses. TOR browser anonymizes internet users’ IP addresses and so makes it difficult to trace internet activities back to users.

Bad guys continue to trade in stolen credentials, ransomware, and malware on the Dark Web. They can also sell and buy guns, drugs, counterfeit money, compromise credit card numbers, and even a lot more. According to Munish Walther-Puri, chief research officer and head of the intelligence analytics at Terbium Labs, “People need to understand that there is an underground economy – a marketplace where all these things are being traded and sold.”

In this article, we will explore how cybercriminals are using the dark web to commit various crimes.

Compromising Credit and Debit Card Numbers

Payment card info or/and banking details are widely demanded items for sale on the dark web these days. Greg Foss, a Senior Cybersecurity Strategist at VMware Carbon Black, researched the dark web and found that e-skimming attacks in the retail sectors were on the rise. The cyber pests injected JavaScript into the website’s payment processing pages to steal account credentials and a credit card from consumers.

As per the report from Sixgill cybersecurity firm, which provides threat intelligence in the face of the dark web, 76,230,127 compromised cards were offered for sale in the dark web market. You can read more about credit and debit card frauds on the dark web.

Exploiting Social Security Numbers

Cyber pests find social security numbers and other personal information such as phone numbers, birthdays, and addresses to sell them on the dark web. They can also steal your identity to acquire financial gains. For example, attackers can apply for mortgage loans and apply for credit or debit cards in your name.

A cybersecurity firm Flashpoint says that the social security number, full name, and birth date of the people who have high credit scores can be sold for $60 to $80 on the digital black market. Hackers mostly target schools or hospitals because they have a lot of information related to people’s identity.

Buying and Selling Firearms

Global law enforcement agencies and policymakers such as the United Nations (UN) or United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are unable to tackle illegal trafficking in firearms on the black market – the dark web. According to government agencies and media reports, the proliferation of arms trafficking, explosives, and banned digital materials on the dark web is a real phenomenon.

The Rand Europe and the University of Manchester published a research paper – namely “Behind the Curtain: The Illicit Trade of Firearms, Explosives, and Ammunition on the Dark Web.” The researchers spelled out that the trade of firearms, explosives, and ammunition on the dark web had links with terrorist attacks in Europe.

The payment on the dark web market is made through cryptocurrencies (e.g., Litecoin, Bitcoin, Stellar, XRP, and USD Coin) in order to make transactions obfuscated.

Perpetrating Pornography

The dark web provides a plethora of sources for pornography. Not only that, even child pornography is being sold on the black market. In 2019, Reuters reported that a South Korean-based 23 years old man was arrested due to the charge of perpetrating child pornography on the dark web. The name of his website was “Welcome to Video” and it had been seized by the U.S Department of Justice (see the screenshot below).

U.S. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said, “Darknet sites that profit from the sexual exploitation of children are among the vilest and reprehensible forms of criminal behaviour.”

The Bottom Line (Conclusion)

The dark web is a part of the internet that provides various opportunities to threat actors so that they can perform criminal activities such as compromising credit and debit card numbers, exploiting social security numbers, buying and selling firearms, and perpetrating pornography.

Cybercriminals are gleaning huge money through the dark web. Even a single dark website of a South-Korean-based guy collected a revenue of $3.7 million worth of Bitcoin between 2015 and 2018 when it was taken down. Undoubtedly, the dark web is a home of major cybercrimes.









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