The term Dark Web, which has become commonplace in recent years, refers to online content which is not listed by search engines. It is also often known as the Deep Web. This content is featured on websites with a hidden IP address. Anyone who knows that address can easily access such sites.
What are darknets?
When referring to the Deep Web it is also important to mention the so-called darknets: closed computer networks which exchange private content. Among the most well-known darknets on the web is the TOR network (short for The Onion Router), as well as The Invisible Internet, Project and Freenet. TOR is the most popular of these.
Such networks consist of an infrastructure which makes anonymous internet access possible and for that reason, they have become an important instrument for cyber fraudsters and criminal organisations. Furthermore, the TOR network is greatly appreciated by those involved in fraudulent activity due to the fact that its monitoring by security authorities is particularly difficult.
As far as the size of the Deep Web is concerned, the numbers are astounding. To get an idea of its scale, bear in mind that the Surface Web, which houses content listed by the major search engines, constitutes just 4% of the total information on the World Wide Web. The remaining 96% of content on the network is displayed on the Dark Web.
The dangers of the Deep Web and darknets
Although the darknets of the Deep Web are frequented by many different types of user, it is well-known that groups of IT criminals, hackers and political dissidents are also present. Most commercial transactions which take place there involve drug trading or fraudulent financial operations.
Interpol has classified the crimes committed using this IT tools according to the following categories:
- Cyber-attacks against hard and software
- Financial crime
These two areas involve crimes frequently perpetrated by malware creators, who find the Dark Web to be an ideal environment for their activities. The numerous Black Markets present on the part of the web which is not listed by search engines provide access to strings of malevolent code, as well as services designed to customise and distribute malware.
Let us not forget that darknets are used by cyber-criminals to hide the entire command structure of botnets, making them immune to any operation carried out by security authorities. The Command and Control servers hidden on networks such as TOR, are in fact difficult to identify, which guarantees greater opportunities for cyber-criminals.
The services available in this ecosystem are unfortunately very affordable. The cost of 1000 installations of malware on European devices can cost as little as 80 to 130 dollars. A cause of concern for law enforcement authorities is also the spread of malware as a service, thanks to which users have the option to pay to access a customised version of malevolent code.
Black markets offer a huge number of other services which are very useful to anyone wishing to commit fraud. Scans of ID documents and driving licences are up for sale at a few tens of dollars and constitute the most frequently used material in the case of identity theft. Alternatively, for a price of between 50 and 200 dollars, you can access a service which enables the hacking of social network accounts.
In the light of these characteristics, it is clear that the Dark Web, which is also accessible to those without any professional IT skills, must be avoided if you wish to keep your sensitive data safe and avoid becoming a victim of scams or credit-card cloning operations.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith