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Luca Flores
Luca Flores

Anonymous 20 Registered Software 26

Domain name acquisition or transfer is handled by CPASiteSolutions, is unique to the tax and accounting firm and is always owned by the firm. Sites are hosted on two identical data centers, with redundant power supplies and excellent Internet connectivity. If one of the data centers goes offline for any reason, the remaining server is fully capable of handling the hosting in real time. Custom domain-based email accounts are created for every firm member, with 7GB of storage at no additional charge. These accounts can be upgraded to a hosted instance of Microsoft Exchange groupware for $9.95 per user, per month. All e-mail accounts are protected with state-of-the-art spam filtering and anti-virus software. Firms also have the option of running their own e-mail server if desired.

Anonymous 20 Registered Software 26

Just as criminals can rely upon the anonymity of the Dark Web, so too can the law enforcement, military, and intelligence communities. They may, for example, use it to conduct online surveillance and sting operations and to maintain anonymous tip lines. Anonymity in the Dark Web can be used to shield officials from identification and hacking by adversaries. It can also be used to conduct a clandestine or covert computer network operation such as taking down a website or a denial of service attack, or to intercept communications. Reportedly, officials are continuously working on expanding techniques to deanonymize activity on the Dark Web and identify malicious actors online.

Ulbricht received over $13 million in commissions from sales on the Silk Road. While the Silk Road was primarily used to sell illegal drugs, it also offered digital goods, including malicious software and pirated media; forgeries, including fake passports and Social Security cards; and services, such as computer hacking.3

Surface Web. The magnitude of the web is growing. According to one estimate, there were 334.6 million Internet top-level domain names registered globally during the second quarter of 2016.10 This is a 12.9% increase from the number of domain names registered during the same period in 2015.11 As of February 2017, there were estimated to be more than 1.154 billion websites.12 As researchers have noted, however, these numbers "only hint at the size of the Web," as numbers of users and websites are constantly fluctuating.13

The Dark Web can be reached through decentralized, anonymized nodes on a number of networks including Tor (short for The Onion Router)17 or I2P (Invisible Internet Project)18. Tor, which was initially released as The Onion Routing project in 2002,19 was originally created by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory as a tool for anonymously communicating online.

Tor "refers both to the software that you install on your computer to run Tor and the network of computers that manages Tor connections."20 Tor's users connect to websites "through a series of virtual tunnels rather than making a direct connection, thus allowing both organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy."21 Users route their web traffic through other users' computers such that the traffic cannot be traced to the original user. Tor essentially establishes layers (like layers of an onion) and routes traffic through those layers to conceal users' identities.22 To get from layer to layer, Tor has established "relays" on computers around the world through which information passes.23 Information is encrypted between relays, and "all Tor traffic passes through at least three relays before it reaches its destination."24 The final relay is called the "exit relay," and the IP address of this relay is viewed as the source of the Tor traffic. When using Tor software, users' IP addresses remain hidden. As such, it appears that the connection to any given website "is coming from the IP address of a Tor exit relay, which can be anywhere in the world."25

There are several different ways to communicate about the Dark Web. One of the first places individuals may turn is Reddit.27 There are several subreddits28 pertaining to the Dark Web, such as DarkNetMarkets, DeepWeb, or Tor. These forums often provide links to sites within the Dark Web. Reddit provides a public platform for Dark Web users to discuss different aspects of the Tor. It is not encrypted or anonymous, as users who wish to engage in forum discussion must create an account.29 Individuals who wish to use a more secure form of communication may choose to utilize email, web chats, or personal messaging hosted on Tor:

Tor is used to secure the privacy of activities and communications in a number of realms. Privacy advocates generally promote the use of Tor and similar software to maintain free speech, privacy, and anonymity.54 There are several examples of how it might be used for these purposes:

Bitcoin is the currency often used in transactions on the Dark Web.85 It is a decentralized digital currency that uses anonymous, peer-to-peer transactions.86 Individuals generally obtain bitcoins by accepting them as payment, exchanging them for traditional currency, or "mining" them.87

Users' addresses are associated with and stored in a wallet.89 The wallet contains an individual's private key,90 which is a secret number that allows that individual to spend bitcoins from the corresponding wallet,91 similar to a password. The address for a transaction and a cryptographic signature are used to verify transactions.92 The wallet and private key are not recorded in the public ledger; this is where Bitcoin usage has heightened privacy. Wallets may be hosted on the web, by software for a desktop or mobile device, or on a hardware device.93

Just as criminals can leverage the anonymity of the Dark Web, so too can law enforcement. It may use this to conduct online surveillance and sting operations and to maintain anonymous tip lines.94 While individuals may anonymize activities, some have speculated about means by which law enforcement can still track malicious activity.

Less than one month after federal agents disbanded the Silk Road, another site (Silk Road 2.0) came online. After discovering that the site's proprietor made critical errors, such as using his personal email address to register the servers, federal agents seized the servers and shut down the site.100 While law enforcement may aim to defeat criminals operating in the Dark Web technologically, some of their strongest tools may be traditional law enforcement crime-fighting means. For example, law enforcement can still request information from entities that collect identifying information on users. In March 2015, federal investigators "sent a subpoena to Reddit demanding that the site turn over a collection of personal data about five users of the r/darknetmarkets forum [a subreddit where users discussed anonymous online sales of drugs, weapons, stolen financial data, and other contraband]."101 Though, as some have suggested, such law enforcement actions could drive these conversations and activities to anonymous forums such as those on Tor.102

Tor software can be used by the military to conduct a clandestine or covert computer network operation such as taking down a website or a denial of service attack, or to intercept and inhibit enemy communications. Another use could be a military deception or psychological operation, where the military uses the Dark Web to plant disinformation about troop movements and targets, for counterintelligence, or to spread information to discredit the insurgents' narrative. These activities may be conducted either in support of an ongoing military operation or on a stand-alone basis.

The Deep Web and Dark Web have been of increasing interest to researchers, law enforcement, and policy makers. However, clear data on the scope and nature of these layers of the Internet are unavailable; anonymity often afforded by services such as Tor for users accessing the deepest corners of the web contributes to this lack of clarity, as does the sometimes temporary nature of the websites hosted there. Individuals, businesses, and governments may all rely upon the digital underground. It may be used for legal and illegal activities ranging from keeping sensitive communications private to selling illegal contraband. Despite some reaching for increased privacy and security online, researchers have questioned whether there will be a corresponding uptick in individuals turning to anonymizing services such as Tor.111 They've suggested that while there may not be the incentive for individuals to migrate their browsing to these anonymizing platforms, "it is much more likely for technological developments related to the Dark Web to improve the stealthiness of darknets."112 As such, law enforcement and policy makers may question how best to contend with evolving technology such as encryption and the challenges of attribution in an anonymous environment to effectively combat malicious actors who exploit cyberspace, including the Dark Web.

Originally designed as a way to be able to use Internet Relay Chat (IRC) anonymously, I2P has become one of the more popular anonymous networks. While similar to Tor, key differences include the fact that I2P focuses on gaining access to sites within the network, and not to the Internet at large. Not as much academic research has been done on this project as on Tor. This service is very popular in Russia and about half the routers appear to be located there. For more information, see

Reddit is a website for online content ranging from news and entertainment to social networking where registered members can enter and share content. Members can also vote and comment on important stories and discussions. For more information, see

Botnets are groups of computers that are remotely controlled by hackers. They have been infected by downloading malicious software and are used to carry out malicious activities on behalf of the hackers. 350c69d7ab


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