You may think you know a lot of things about the web but you are greatly mistaken. There are hidden aspects of the web that you are not familiar with especially if you are just the typical person who enjoys social media, award winning site concepts, and contented in watching the occasional videos of your favorite celebrities. The dark web has remained in the dark for a long time and only a select few can access it at will. More often than not, they are people with illegal transactions and responsible for crimes such as theft, drugs, or even pornography and pedophilia. They thrive in the dark web because they are free to do as they wish without fear of getting caught by the authorities but it seems that there is not one minor flaw that they fail to look into that can be the reason of their undoing.
We know how popular digital currencies are now. Many are hooked into investing in it because of the payoff considering how high the price of one bitcoin has become. Criminals also prefer using it simply because they no longer have to go to banks to get their mon, y unlike regular currencies. Perpetrators of ransomware attacks demanded bitcoins as payment from their victims. However, it might not be as fool-proof as what many cybercriminals think it is as researchers were able to identify over a hundred of users of the dark web simply by tracing their bitcoin activity that eventually led to unmasking who they really are in real life.
When bitcoin was first introduced, one of the concerns was that it was being used as a form of payment for questionable and/ or illegal transactions, such as those on the now-defunct marketplace Silk Road. The reason it was so popular for such transactions was because it provided an untraceable way to pay for items, but that seems to be changing.
Researchers recently discovered that they were able to unmask some dark web users by linking them to bitcoin wallets that were used for transactions on the dark web. As a result, the anonymity once offered by bitcoin seems to be coming to an end, at least for those conducting transactions via the dark web.
If this is done on a larger scale, authorities will be able to delve deeper into the deep web and gradually uncover the identities of individuals who use bitcoin there because they are likely criminals who are up to no good and should be made accountable for their crimes. While linking these people to their dark web bitcoin use was not an easy task, it was something doable with the technology we now have. The only catch is that these links are not fresh, only activities until 2015 where traced when bitcoin use was far from the peak it is enjoying today.
You can surf the dark web but you can’t always hide. People who want to keep their online activities secret will often use both bitcoin, which is tied to pseudonyms, and the Tor browser, which obscures your real movements. But if you’re not careful, all that hassle could be for naught.
By linking bitcoin wallets with transactions on the dark web, researchers at Qatar University in Doha were able to unmask 125 Tor users.
Supposedly secret activity on sites like The Pirate Bay – which hosts torrents of pirated music and films, for example – and the black market Silk Road – a kind of Amazon for illegal products, such as drugs and guns – could then be linked to individuals’ social media accounts on the normal web.
It may sound like a good news to the majority of us who are fearing for our data, money, and even security now that there is solid proof we can track down crooks using the same format but alas no. While this process has proved to be somehow successful as it did identify a bunch of people although not as many as you’d probably want to but quite enough for starters, it seems that these criminals have already started to shift from the use of bitcoins to newer forms of digital currencies like Monero and Zcash and only a handful of dark web users continue to use bitcoin. It will be harder to catch them until someone discovers a way to repeat the process on a wider scale and to a more diverse list of alternative currencies.