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Illuminating the dangers of the ‘dark’ web

It is time for a Global cyber police force to be nested with Interpol. 

Unknown to much of the public who operates the ‘Normal Web’ lies an elite hideaway at the opposite end of the spectrum, inaccessible by standard browsers and sophisticatedly hidden: the Dark Web.

{mosads}One can buy legal items on the normal web, controlled substances such as drugs on the Deep Web, and things they will never admit to buying (as incarceration would soon follow) on the Dark Web.

An invisible tunnel system, the Dark Web requires special software to access, which, once inside, allows users to access the web similarly to that typical on the Normal Web.  Unlike its less deviant counterparts, however, it’s encrypted software ensures almost total anonymity to those whose roam.

Considering that the Normal Web, the surface web, accounts for less than one percent of the World Wide Web in its entirety – this is cause for concern. Why?

Because the Dark Web’s largest customers constitutes terrorists and pedophiles.

Regrettably, the Dark Web is more often a breeding ground for pedophiles, with research attributing more than eighty percent of Dark Web activity to child pornography, making it the largest category of activity on the Tor anonymity network.

In 2015, the FBI cracked Tor and caught about 1,500 visitors on the biggest child pornography website, Playpen. The site’s primary purpose for creation was to advertise and distribute child pornography. Playpen had almost 215,000 members, more than 117,000 posts and received an average of 11,000 visitors (non-members) a week.

Crime also pays on the Dark Web.

The Darknet Market sells many predictable and unpredictable goods. The predictable goods are the highest volume, notably illegal pornography, illegal drugs, and illegal weapons. Also, the general communications capacity of the Dark Web and its Darknet software is popular for illegal associations such as terrorists and assassins.

That is a lot of bitcoins – a currency specific to the Dark Web – passing through untraceable e-commerce portals.  One bitcoin is equal to $448.74 U.S. dollars. Presently, there are 11 million bitcoins in circulation with the maximum projected production of bitcoins resting at 21 million by year 2140.

Experiencing much growth, the DarkNet commerce sees a heavy traffic of drugs throughout its marketplace. Leading the drug market, AlphaBay Market drug listed in the hidden market, with its competitor, Abraxus, reigning in at 16,000 listings, as of Oct. 2015.

For your hacking and malware needs, look no further, there is RANSOMWARE.  

This is a malware that locks your keyboard or computer to prevent you from accessing your data until you pay a ransom, in bitcoins.  Entities affected by Ransomware have been hospitals, school districts, state and local governments, law enforcement agencies, small businesses, large businesses and individuals; so basically, anyone is susceptible to the malware.

Terrorist organizations are also welcome, extremely, I might add.

Exploiting the anonymity of the Dark Web to further their goals, terrorist organizations have been linked to spreading propaganda and recruiting members.  Still, experts say that terrorists prefer to share propaganda content on the Surface Web in order to reach a wider audience, including the wannabe terrorists and those teetering that of a normal life and a life of terrorizing the world – you know, the usual.

But because data can travel globally in mere seconds, traditional law enforcement is ineffective.  A global cyber police force needs to be created to focus on internet crime without borders.  The task force should contain at least one FBI agent and one Department of Homeland Security agent for every six Cyber Task Force member.  The task force should also be co-located with Interpol, to facilitate arrests and monitoring. Agents from each country should provide agents proportionate to their e-commerce development.

For this global problem and its networks, there must be a global task force, properly equipped to protect those most vulnerable in our society, children. They are often kidnapped or sold off, manipulated by brokers for a profit.

In a civil, healthy society, there is no room for this element as it destroys both the victim and the perpetrator (eventually).  A global cyber police force can assist Interpol and each country’s law enforcement community in arresting cyber criminals and, most importantly, preventing cyber subterfuge.

M’Kai Folley is a second-year graduate student at George Washington University studying Security Studies Policy. She can be contacted LinkedIn or at  folleym@gwmail.gwu.edu.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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