March 1, 2017
Law enforcement’s focus on the Dark Web seems to be paying off, as we learn from the write-up, “Finland: Dark Web Drug Operation Exposed” at Hetq, an outlet of the Association of Investigative Journalists. In what was described as Finland’s largest drug bust, authorities seized over a million dollars’ worth of narcotics from a network selling their wares on the Dark Web. We learn:
The network is alleged to have imported €2 million (US$ 2.2 million) worth of drugs between 2014 and 2016, selling them on the dark web site Silkkitie. More than 40 kilograms of powdered narcotics, such as amphetamine, heroin and cocaine, as well as 40,000 ecstasy tablets and 30,000 LSD blotters were smuggled into Finland from the Netherlands and Germany, and then sold on the site. …
As part of the investigation, customs officers in April seized at least €1.1 million worth of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA and ecstasy in the coastal town of Kustavi. The same month, police arrested three Finnish citizens.
The write-up notes that Silkkitie users communicated through encrypted messages under pseudonyms, and that Bitcoin was the currency used. We’re also reminded that Silkkitie, a.k.a. Valhalla, is one of the Dark Web’s most popular drug marketplaces. The Finnish site was launched in 2013.
Cynthia Murrell, March 1, 2017
February 14, 2017
A feature article on CNN recently provided some background on Dark Web marketplaces. Entitled Inside the illegal online weapons trade, this piece shares the story of Michael Andrew Ryan. Ryan adopted the moniker gunrunner and opened up a gun sales business on the Dark Web while based in a small town in Kansas. Dark Web trading statistics are tough to pinpoint. However, in comparison with other illegal online trading, gun sales on the Dark Web are less than 3% according to a Carnegie Mellon professor and researcher. The author writes,
By the way, it’s entirely legal to buy guns online in the U.S. — although the process is more complicated, depending on various factors. Nonetheless, the ATF said it’s taking enforcement to a new level by creating an Internet Investigations Center aimed at combating illegal online gunrunners. The center includes federal agents, legal counsel and investigators. Their job: track illegal online firearms trafficking and feed intelligence to agents in the field. It’s a gigantic task, which aims to hit a constantly moving target.
While we will not comment on the sensationalizing and dramatizing of the Dark Web through Ryan’s story, we can say found the concluding remarks above to be helpful. This presents a good picture of the interconnectivity between multiple layers of law enforcement. It also hints at a need for technology upgrades in this cybersecurity arena.
Megan Feil, February 14, 2017
January 19, 2017
A prison librarian in England who purchased drugs and weapons over the Dark Web for supplying them to prisoners was sentenced to 7-years in prison.
The Register in a news report Prison Librarian Swaps Books for Bars After Dark-Web Gun Buy Caper says:
Dwain Osborne, of Avenue Road, Penge, in London, was nabbed in October of 2015 after he sought to procure a Glock 19 – a staple of police and security forces worldwide – and 100 rounds of ammunition on the dark web. A search of Osborne’s house revealed the existence of a storage device, two stolen passports, and a police uniform.
Osborne was under the impression that like other Dark Web actors, he too is untraceable. What made the sleuths suspicious is not known, however, the swift action and prosecution are commendable. Law enforcement agencies are challenged by this new facet of crime wherein most perpetrators manage to remain anonymous.
Most arrests related to the purchase of arms and drugs over Dark Web were result of undercover operations. However, going beyond this type of modus operandi is the need of the hour.
Systems like Apacke Teka seem to be promising, but it is premature to say how such kind of systems will evolve and most importantly, will be implemented.
Vishal Ingole, January 19, 2017
January 17, 2017
Unsuspecting Royal Mail postmen are delivering narcotics and drugs ordered over Dark Web to punters and buyers with much efficiency. Taking cognizance of the fact, The Home Office is planning an investment of GBP 1.9 billion over next five years to fight this new face of crime.
The Sun in an article titled Royal Mail Postmen Unknowingly Deliver Drugs Parcels Bought From the Dark Web says:
Royal Mail postmen are unknowingly delivering drug parcels bought from the dark web, it has been revealed. Millions of pounds of drugs are bought online every day via the dark web and shipped to punters anonymously.
The postmen, however, cannot be blamed as they are ill-equipped to find out what’s hidden inside a sealed parcel. Though drug sniffing dogs exist on paper for the Royal Mail, many postmen say they never saw one in their service life. Technology is yet to catch-up with dogs that can sniff out the drugs.
As the postmen are being put at risk delivering these packages, the Home Office in a statement said:
We have committed to spending £1.9bn on cybersecurity over the next five years, including boosting the capabilities of the National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit, increasing their ability to investigate the most serious cybercrime.
Law enforcement agencies, including the ones in the US will have to invest in detecting and preventing such crimes. So far the success ratio has been barely encouraging. Till then, unsuspecting people will be used as pawns by cybercriminals, royally!
Vishal Ingole, January 17, 2017
January 13, 2017
Law enforcement officials use fake social media accounts and online profiles to engage with criminals. Their goal is to deter crime, possibly even catching criminals in the act for a rock solid case. While this happened way back in 2011, the comments are still coming. In light of the recent presidential election and the violent acts of the past year, it is no wonder the comments are still fresh. Tech Dirt talked about how the, “US Military Kicks Off Plan To Fill Social Networks With Fake Sock Puppet Accounts.”
The goal was for a company to develop a software that would allow one person to create and manage various social media profiles (including more than one profile on the same platform). These accounts will then, and we are speculating on this given how dummy accounts have been used in the past, to catch criminals. The article highlights how the government would use the sock puppet accounts:
Apparently a company called Ntrepid has scored the contract and the US military is getting ready to roll out these “sock puppet” online personas. Of course, it insists that all of this is targeting foreign individuals, not anyone in the US. And they promise it’s not even going to be used on US-based social networks like Facebook or Twitter, but does anyone actually believe that’s true?
Then the comments roll in a conversation that a span of five years the commentators argue about what it means to be American, reaffirming that the US government spies on its citizens, and making fun of sock puppets.
Whitney Grace, January 13, 2017
January 10, 2017
It seems the dark web is now making it easier for disgruntled employees to take their revenge to the next level, we learn from the KrebsOnSecurity article, “Rise of Darknet Stokes Fear of the Insider.” The article cites Gartner analyst Avivah Litan; she reports a steep increase in calls from clients concerned about vindictive employees, current or former, who might expose sensitive information on the dark web. Not surprisingly, companies with a lot of intellectual property at stake are already working with law-enforcement or private security firms to guard against the threat.
How, exactly, is the dark web making worker retaliation easier than ever before? Writer Brian Krebs explains:
Noam Jolles, a senior intelligence expert at Diskin Advanced Technologies, studies darknet communities. I interviewed her last year in ‘Bidding for Breaches,’ a story about a secretive darknet forum called Enigma where members could be hired to launch targeted phishing attacks at companies. Some Enigma members routinely solicited bids regarding names of people at targeted corporations that could serve as insiders, as well as lists of people who might be susceptible to being recruited or extorted.
Jolles said the proliferation of darkweb communities like Enigma has lowered the barriers to entry for insiders, and provided even the least sophisticated would-be insiders with ample opportunities to betray their employer’s trust.
I’m not sure everyone is aware of how simple and practical this phenomena looks from adversary eyes and how far it is from the notion of an insider as a sophisticated disgruntled employee,’ Jolles said. ‘The damage from the insider is not necessarily due to his position, but rather to the sophistication of the threat actors that put their hands on him.
According to research by Verizon, few vengeful employees turn out to have been in management positions. Most are workers lower on the totem pole who had to be given access to sensitive information to perform their jobs. The Verizon report cheerfully advises, “At the end of the day, keep up a healthy level of suspicion toward all employees.” What fun.
See the article for more about this threat, and how organizations might go about protecting themselves.
Cynthia Murrell, January 10, 2017