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Dark network trading: the dark space beyond search engines

Time : 10/08/2022 Author : 2pd0v9 Click : + -
        Dark networks are generally considered to be closely related to illegal activities, providing low-risk cooperation platforms for criminals and opportunities to challenge "borders". The covert network based on anonymous communication system has developed into a complex form. However, not only criminals rely on the anonymity of the dark net, but law enforcement personnel, military institutions and intelligence agencies also need to use the dark net. They can conduct online monitoring, fishing and law enforcement on the dark net, and protect anonymous intelligence channels and top secret plans. The dark network has been frequently used as an illegal trading platform for a long time. The factors that maintain its stable operation and development are closely related to the trust building mechanism of the dark network market. Understanding the complexity of the trading process of the dark network market and exploring the trust mechanism affecting the trading activities of the dark network have important reference significance for understanding and destroying the trading links of the dark network, maintaining the order of cyberspace and building a harmonious digital governance system.
        In 2006, the first "dark net" known to everyone & mdash& mdash; The farmers market was born. According to DEA data, from 2006 to 2009, "farmer's market" developed more than 3000 users in all 50 states of the United States and 34 other countries and regions. By 2011, the annual transaction volume exceeded US $1 million. "Farmer's market" deals in almost all kinds of prohibited goods, mainly drugs and controlled drugs. It relies on commission to maintain the operation of the dark network. In its heyday, it was called "Amazon in the field of illegal trade".
        In April 2012, the DEA cooperated with the local police and intelligence departments in the Netherlands, Colombia and Scotland to smash the "farmer's market" and arrest mark middot; William and other eight organizers of different nationalities. In September 2014, the founder William was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for drug trafficking and money laundering. The other seven people were all convicted except one who died in prison. In October 2013, the Silk Road, which sold illegal drugs, provided digital goods such as malicious software and pirated media, forged documents, and provided illegal computer intrusion services, was seized. Its founder ulbrit was sentenced to life imprisonment. This incident made the "dark network" surface again and attracted attention.
        The hidden network is also called the hidden network. The hidden server is contained in the "deep network". Compared with the surface network, it exists in the world wide web in the hidden network. The content that cannot be captured by the traditional search engine needs special software, configuration or permission to log in. It is worth noting that the world wide web and the Internet are not synonymous. The world wide web is only a part of the Internet, and the websites we can search through traditional search engines are only a part of the World Wide Web & mdash& mdash; Surface mesh. The number of domain names of the dark network is 400 to 500 times that of the surface network, and visitors will not leave any traces on it. The deliberately hidden content contained in the dark network may be used for legal purposes, or may be used to hide criminal acts or other malicious activities. The use of the dark network has attracted the attention of relevant departments and scholars.
        At present, the most popular and practical anonymous communication system Tor (onion routing for short) is a common way for individuals to access the dark network. Tor's communication depends on the network composed of volunteer computer nodes using the software. All network traffic of users will be encrypted and transmitted through a series of computer nodes of other users in the network, so that the traffic cannot be traced back to the original users. By establishing a "hidden service", the service provider and the service requester are anonymous to each other throughout the communication process. The tor based dark network uses this protocol to maintain the anonymity of the users of the dark network. In the dark network, users can use hidden directory pages to browse classified encyclopedia content, use hidden search engines to search for contraband and other transaction content, and also use hidden forums, hidden chat rooms, and hidden e-mails to communicate through privately built communication methods.
        As scholars have said, "a considerable amount of information is lost by search engines because it is hidden in the deep. This deep field of the Internet has unknown breadth, depth, content and users." The dark network provides anonymous services and platforms for illegal commodity sales and other activities, as well as for the organization, communication and cooperation of criminals, spies and a series of malicious attackers, enabling users to avoid censorship, access banned content and protect sensitive communications. The dark network mainly deals with bitcoin or other digital currencies. E-mail is the main communication mode in the dark network market. For sellers, customer evaluation is an important proof of the reputation of the merchants. It should be pointed out that not only criminals rely on the anonymity of the dark network, but law enforcement personnel can also treat them in their own way.
        In fact, law enforcement personnel, military agencies and intelligence agencies also need to use the dark net. They can conduct online monitoring on the dark net, fishing law enforcement, and protect anonymous intelligence channels and top secret plans. The anonymity in the dark network can be used to avoid being reviewed and identified and attacked by hackers, to protect users from being monitored and eavesdropped, to attack and shut down illegal websites, and to interrupt server attacks and communications. Although individuals may anonymize activities, researchers have been exploring ways to use security vulnerabilities to penetrate, de anonymize, and track malicious behavior. In order to identify the source of malicious attacks online and detect the true destination of network traffic visiting the dark network sites, researchers are constantly developing "de anonymization" technology that can identify hidden services and individuals to resist the invasion of criminal forces from the dark network.
        The anonymity in the dark network can also be used to protect the military command and control system on the battlefield from the identification and attack of the enemy; At the same time, it can also shut down websites or interrupt network attacks to intercept enemy communications; It can also be used for anti espionage activities and spreading false information. For example, researchers of the advanced intelligence research program (iarpa) of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the US Department of defense have explored various methods of "finding those who do not want to be discovered". The development of the dark network economy promotes the rise of anonymous servers, anonymous mailboxes, anonymous mail services and other services. Cryptocurrency has entered the vision of ordinary users. However, while cryptocurrency brings convenience to people, it also opens a new door for economic crimes such as money laundering. The dark network market provides a lower risk platform for users' illegal transactions.
        In the future, these online black markets will no longer be centrally managed websites such as the "Silk Road", but will disperse the flow of goods, information, payment and feedback, making it more difficult to pry. The quantity and quality of the dark network resource information are better than that of the surface network. The demand for these resource information makes researchers constantly explore methods that can efficiently fill the dark network query interface and obtain the dark network resources. For example, scholars from Nankai University classified the dark network resource information according to fields, including more than ten categories such as finance, Internet, literature and chemistry, and each of them contained detailed subcategories. The dark network can be accessed through many centralized anonymous nodes on the network, including tor or i2p. When using these anonymous communication tools, the user's IP address is always hidden. The IP address displayed by the connection with any target website can be anywhere in fact, so it is difficult to capture the user's source and location.
        When tor is used, the format of the website address will change. The website usually ends with the suffix "ion" and identifies the "hidden service" instead of ending with. When using tor to search the network, an onion icon tor browser is usually displayed. The biggest disadvantage of this service is that it is slow. According to the dark net report released by the Congressional Research Service in 2017, the average number of daily tor users in the United States is 353783, accounting for 19.2% of the average total number of daily tor users. The average daily number of tor users in the United States is the largest, followed by Russia (11.9%), Germany (9.9%) and the United Arab Emirates (9.2%).
        As for the communication mode on the dark network, individual users usually choose to start with the social news website reddit. The dark network sub section of the website often provides a dark network portal, and the website provides a platform for users to discuss, but it is not encrypted or anonymous. Individuals who want to use more secure forms of communication can choose to use e-mail hosted on tor, network chat rooms or privately built communications. Many anonymous instant chat rooms are hosted on tor. Some do not require users to provide any information, and some require users to register through e-mail. The anonymity and non traceability of the dark network enable any user to be anonymous in real time when accessing the dark network, without disclosing his identity to the server, including criminals who conduct illegal activities.
        For example, in 2016, the official website of a dark network trading platform was attacked by hackers, resulting in the disclosure of a large amount of information in the database, and the theft of countless credit card information and thousands of user accounts. The attack of "black eating black" not only affected the portal of the network criminal group, but also affected the original holder of the data. However, anonymous service is not an absolute weapon for illegal activities to "smooth" the network. In October 2011, hacktivist, a well-known hacker organization, launched an attack against the dark network, destroying a website called freedomhosting operated on tor, which hosted more than 40 child pornography websites.
        Hacktivist has obtained the user database of the website, which enables the FBI to track the real identity of individuals. At present, it has successfully filed criminal charges against 185 of them. In addition to the anonymity and untraceability of users, traders in the dark network world also need to solve the anonymity of transaction settlement. Since all countries have strict monitoring measures for the banking system, the criminal acts based on the dark network will inevitably lead to the tracking risk of the banking system through the traditional bank accounts. Some scholars believe that the rise of virtual currencies such as bitcoin just solves this problem. As a payment medium, bitcoin has impressed the public with its anonymity and privacy since its emergence.
        Every bitcoin payment record in the digital public ledger is called a blockchain, which records the transfer of bitcoin between users (in essence, a transaction). Blockchain is a distributed accounting technology. Every transaction will be recorded on it, and every person accessing the blockchain will have this ledger. Therefore, bitcoin itself has certain transparency, because everyone will get the transaction records. Although the bitcoin wallet has a unique coded identifier, it does not point to the identity of the trader, so it is impossible to know who the trader behind it is. Bitcoin was born in 2009, but at the beginning of its birth, bitcoin was only an encrypted number.
        It was not until the "bitcoin pizza day" in 2010 that an American programmer bought a pizza worth $30 with 10000 bitcoins that bitcoin gained a value of $0.003 for the first time. In 2011, the "Silk Road" was born, and cryptocurrency officially became the "official" currency in the dark network market. The problem of anonymity of traders' transaction settlement in the dark network market is solved, and the criminal behavior is free from the risk of being tracked by the traditional financial system. In short, bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that uses anonymous peer-to-peer transactions. The user's address is associated and stored in the "electronic wallet", which contains the personal "private key" & mdash& mdash; A string of secret numbers that allow the person to spend bitcoin from the corresponding e-wallet, similar to a password.
        The transaction address and encrypted signature are used to verify the transaction. The wallet and private key are not recorded in the public ledger. The electronic wallet can be hosted on the network. Since there is no issuing agency for bitcoin, there is no crisis that bitcoin will be frozen like ordinary currency, so it has become a new way for criminals to blackmail. In May 2017, wannacry blackmail virus was popular all over the world. The virus maker locked "poisoned" users and required to pay a certain amount of bitcoin as the price of unlocking. Dark networks are generally considered to be closely related to illegal activities and provide low-risk cooperation platforms for criminals, such as using anonymous chat rooms and communication services to plan crimes and disseminate criminal skills.
        All kinds of contraband, stolen goods and stolen information can be sold for profit. In the event that Facebook leaked user information two years ago, some hackers revealed that the sales amount of relevant user information in the dark network was very cheap, and the really popular information was the bank account and password. Ghostsec, a hacker organization that fights against terrorist organizations, once tracked down a bitcoin wallet worth $3 million, confirming that virtual currency has become one of the channels for terrorist organizations to raise funds. However, there is a shortage of data on the activity of some dark web sites such as bank accounts and passwords. It is estimated that only about 1.5% of tor users can access hidden service pages or dark web pages. It is unknown how much tor traffic will flow to any of these sites.
        It is difficult for ordinary users to touch the boundaries of these websites. Some websites require users to obtain invitation codes to access. At the same time, the dark network provides opportunities for criminals to challenge "boundaries", including physical boundaries, physical & mdash; Network boundaries, and network boundaries. As long as the network can reach the place, there is the possibility of crime. A large number of studies tend to describe the dark net as a "safe haven" for illegal activities, and call for the regulation of the dark net to reduce the possibility of breeding crime. Based on the characteristics of easy access, strong concealment, special trading methods and great harm to public security of the dark network, the dark network is very easy to become a channel for the dissemination of obscene information, a platform for illegal goods trading and a safe haven. Some researchers believe that to improve the regulatory mechanism of the dark network, we should first strengthen the prevention and control of publicity information about the dark network, strengthen the supervision of the logistics industry, and improve the confidentiality awareness of users.
        Some scholars believe that it is difficult to solve the problem of the dark network. The most important point is that the complexity and anonymity mechanism of transnational crime make the threat posed by the dark network not subject to geographical restrictions. In particular, the advantages of the blockchain technology provide great convenience for the criminal activities of the dark network. Scholars who study the crimes of the dark network believe that although the criminals of the dark network are more hidden in ways and means than the criminal activities of the surface network, in order to improve the anonymity and security, users need to update tools frequently and be familiar with various auxiliary software, thus raising the technical threshold of using the dark network. Therefore, the criminal activities of the dark network are auxiliary in function, It is not the "chief culprit" of rampant criminal activities.
        Although trust is a very personal emotion, under the "escort" of anonymous technology, the sellers of the dark network must also build trust with the buyers, expand their user groups, and market their products, technologies and services. Reputation is as important to the sellers of the dark network as the buyers of the surface network and the real world. For the dark networks that cannot conduct face-to-face transactions and are not subject to any transaction laws and regulations, the buyer should normally be unable to establish trust with the seller. However, the actual situation is just the opposite. It rarely happens that the goods are not delivered or sold on the dark Internet. Based on the research conducted by Nicolas Christin, a scholar at Carnegie Mellon University, on 184804 feedback opinions on the "Silk Road" in eight months, the good evaluation rate of the products on the dark Internet is as high as 97.8%.
        Like airbnb landlords or surface online shopping platform sellers, the "suppliers" in the dark network also pay great attention to their "brand" reputation and customer satisfaction. Generally speaking, the supplier interface of the dark network will contain the following information: total transaction volume, supplier registration time, last login time of the supplier, other important aliases of the supplier, and competitive advantage
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