Talking about ‘scammers & criminals’ that inhabit the “Dark Web” who have found new focus – ‘the worry over Covid-19 virus’, Morgan Wright, an ex-Senior Adviser to the US Department of State Anti-terrorism Assistance Programme has recently observed:-
“They’re exploiting the fear, uncertainty & doubt people are experiencing during the pandemic, & using the anxiety & desperation to get people to buy things or click on things they wouldn’t have otherwise”
Mr Wright, who is now Chief Security Adviser at security software company Sentinel One, used to teach behavioural analysts at the US National Security Agency (NSA) about the mechanics of the ‘exploitation of human behaviour.’
Now, he is witnessing many of those same methods being used within the Dark Web, an encrypted part of the internet that can, nonetheless, be accessed using popular networks e.g. Tor.
Tor browser is privacy-focused, which means it can mask both the user & which data is being accessed. It lets malicious players have an opportunity to operate with ‘relative impunity’, because law enforcement officers will find it far harder to locate the criminals concerned.
From the outset of the current global pandemic, Dark Web markets have witnessed a big rise in virus related products & services. Hugely in-demand things, e.g. N95 Masks, gowns, gloves & the now controversial drug Hydro-Chloroquine can all be found in these markets. During April, security software firm IntSights discovered that blood supposedly coming from ‘recovered Coronavirus patients’ was being offered for sale through this forum!
The rationale is that crooks believe that a greater sense of fear will make people rush to obtain these things. As a result, these items are expensive. An Australian Institute of Criminology report discovered that typically, fake vaccine was selling for around $370 (£300), & one said to ‘have been sourced from China’ sold for the range of $10-15,000 (£8-12,000).
A reason for this could be because many criminals are having to flee their usual methods of Dark Web money-making, e.g. selling fake flights booked utilising stolen air-miles – because these industries are in effectively now in ‘suspended animation.’
Criminals also perceive opportunity because most people are now home-working, & there is, therefore, a larger possibility of ‘more-relaxed’ cyber security within new home workplaces.
“There was suddenly a huge shift on the Dark Web of talking about vulnerabilities in collaboration software when they realised people were going to be working from home,” commented IntSights Chief Security Officer, Etay Maor.
Truly, the new ‘ethics of the Dark Web!