It was the cover story of The Times on Saturday, and has been an infamous point of discussion since the internet became mainstream, but what is the dark web and why should we be worried?
“Searching on the Internet today can be compared to dragging a net across the surface of the ocean. While a great deal may be caught in the net, there is still a wealth of information that is deep, and therefore, missed. The reason is simple: Most of the Web’s information is buried far down on dynamically generated sites, and standard search engines never find it.” – Michael K. Bergman
The dark web refers to a huge area of the internet, untraceable by standard web browsers, and only accessible through encryption tools such as Tor. Tor hides the identity and location of the user, and is usually used by the website host as well as by the user, meaning that a huge amount of unlawful transactions involving fraudulent identity documents can take place covertly.
Research revealed by The Times this Saturday reported a shocking number of forged identity documents, including passports, utility bills, driving licenses and bank statements, were on sale on the dark web for anywhere from as little as £7 for a passport scan, or £752 for a physical UK passport.
Research leaders, Dr Lee and Dr Andres Baravalle, spent three months searching through the Agora marketplace, known as “the king of the dark web”, finding more than 30,000 illegal products on sale, many of which were fake or real identity documents. The academics found a trade of nearly £2 million in identity documents, including EU identity cards for £142 and driving licenses from EU countries for £419.
Recently Yahoo! Admitted that their database of over 500 million accounts was raided by hackers, leaving millions vulnerable to identity fraud and theft. Now they are being sued in California for failing to take due care of sensitive information under the Unfair Competition Act as well as negligence for poor security. Information stolen from the Yahoo! Database include users’ names, email addresses, telephone numbers, passwords, and encrypted and unencrypted security questions and answers.
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