The Dark Web and Bitcoin
The Dark Web and Bitcoin
When talking about the dark web, the term "Bitcoin" is often tossed around, but many people don't know exactly what the cryptocurrency is. For those who do, the term "dark web" is a catch-all term for a network of websites that aren't typically found on mainstream Internet search engines. The interests of people using the dark web have changed over the years, but the reasons behind the switch from traditional currencies to tor links crypto coins are still largely unclear. This article aims to address some of those questions, and the possible legal options for pursuing illicit actors on the dark web.
A crypto aficionado can't help but take pride in the fact that their favorite currency is not controlled by a central bank but rather a private company with a vested interest in the well being of its customers. One would be forgiven for believing that this group is at least partly responsible for the recent uptick in the number of complaints about credit card theft. Despite the fact that the best of them all, the likes of a handful of high profile individuals and organisations, are the best bets when it comes to their security credentials, the likes of a few unsuspecting victims have been left on their own to rot. Of course, it's not hard to imagine a similar calamity afflicting a number of banks and fintech firms that are tasked with protecting their customers' most precious financial assets. And the truth is that in the current climate, it's often better to be safe than sorry. The only downside is that such a scenario is highly likely to be akin to a hangover from the previous night's festivities. Fortunately, the likes of a handful of savvy scalawags have been known to lurk about the edges of the most prestigious establishments for the aforementioned aforementioned reason to begin with.
It's no secret that the dark web is a nefarious place. In the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has stepped up its game in recent years to thwart illegal activity on the dark net. This has led to an uptick in reported drug and money laundering cases.
For example, a recent Chainalysis report found that the number of bitcoin transactions in the dark web has been on the rise. However, the real question is whether this will actually translate into increased crime. The DEA has noted a spike in the number of narcotics crimes involving the dark web. While the neophyte user may feel safe stowing away in the underground, law enforcement agencies need to devise a strategy to curb the nefarious activities of those with access to the crypto currency.
Nevertheless, it's not hard to find a small group of dedicated dark web users who have a problem or two. These individuals often operate in multiple jurisdictions and use the dark web as an avenue of illicit activity. Others use the dark web to avoid government surveillance. One recent operation in the Netherlands hijacked a leading dark web merchant. Other nefarious activities include obtaining unauthorized access to computer systems, hacking into corporate networks, and stealing identities.
The dark web is also home to some surprisingly intelligent users. As one DEA agent observed, "it is not unusual for users of the dark net to interact with each other and share tips on how to avoid detection by other law enforcers." A recent study by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) revealed that there are several nefarious activities associated with the dark web, including drug trafficking and nefarious e-commerce sites. Indeed, the DEA has reportedly identified over 100 sites in the US and Canada that are known to operate in a clandestine manner.
Although it's difficult to assess how many people are utilizing the dark web, it is certainly a fact that its popularity is on the rise. That's why governments and regulators need to devise an effective policy and regulatory framework to deal with the dark web and its kin. The most important thing to remember is that the dark web is just that - a shadow world. To better understand its true potential, a comprehensive review of the research is needed.
The illicit actors operating on the Dark Web are a major concern for international law enforcement. Illegal transactions on the Dark Web are a concern for global financial institutions, and warrant attention from regulators worldwide. Governments must devise approaches to address this issue.
Law enforcement agencies and the financial community should work to enhance information sharing between the two groups, as this is one way to improve dark web evidence. New state task forces could share dark web data and manage privacy concerns during investigations. In addition, INTERPOL and the Department of State could deploy cyber security tools to monitor black market trade on the internet.
An increasing number of illicit actors are relying on untraceable online technologies and currencies to conduct illicit transactions. This presents a challenge for law enforcement to collect the technical data required for evidence gathering. It is also challenging to turn technical data into evidence that is understandable to the public. Additionally, the quantity and variety of data increases the evidence challenge.
The growth of illicit activity on the Dark Web has led many governments to develop counter-trafficking efforts. For example, in 2014, the FBI took down the Silk Road 2.0 website. The agency also conducted operations to "de-anonymize" Tor servers. These efforts have resulted in the disruption of dozens of other dark web merchants. A recent Dutch operation seized a leading dark web merchant.
Illicit actors on the Dark Web have found new opportunities to conduct transactions using virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin. This makes them particularly attractive to criminals because they are both anonymous and untraceable. Satoshi Nakmoto, the creator of Bitcoin, created the world's first currency not controlled by government. However, he used an alias and developed the payment system for the technology community.
While the international community has made progress in addressing the challenges associated with the Dark Web, more needs to be done. Recent reports have highlighted illicit art and antiquities trafficking on the Dark Web. And, in November 2017, a deadly attack in Munich was thought to have been carried out with a weapon purchased on the Dark Web.
With its anonymity, the Dark Web is a digital playground for illicit activity. As such, it merits the attention of international law enforcement, but it is essential to increase the effectiveness of the law enforcement response. One way to improve the evidence is to ensure that law enforcement has access to the best-available standards, training and evidence gathering techniques. Another important factor to consider is improving the coordination of law enforcement, and empowering state and federal partners to provide the information necessary to solve these crimes.
Moreover, international regulatory agencies need to take into account anti-money laundering issues when designing policy responses to illicit cyber activity. They should also consider anti-terrorism measures and counter-financing.