The Watchman On The Wall

The Watchman On The Wall
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Verse 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pedophilia and The Dark Web

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The Feds (US) are part of an international campaign to shut down anonymous pedophile communities hosted on the dark underbelly of the Internet. Their target: 'the largest child porn facilitator on the planet'.

The attack was launched on an anonymous Dark Web online community tracked back to an NSA contractor in Virginia. Pedophile message boards that once operated with impunity are now going offline. The operation began with arrest of Eric Marques in Ireland, who was accused of running Freedom Hosting. The web hosting service that operates on the anonymous Tor network, facilitated the operations of several pedophile forums.

The U.S. government appears to have been single handedly forcing the shut down of pedophiles communities on the darker segments of the Internet by targeting the heavily-encrypted, secretive sites called the 'Dark Web.' [The Guardian, 2013]

The Surface Web is content accessible by a search engine, while the opposite is true concerning the Deep Web. The Dark Web then is classified as a small portion of the Deep Web that has been intentionally hidden and is inaccessible through standard web browsers.
The more popular content residing on the Dark Web is found in the Tor network. The Tor network is an anonymous network that can only be accessed with a special web browser, called the Tor browser. This is the portion of the Internet most widely known for illicit activities because of the anonymity associated with the Tor network.
Tor (The Onion Router) is a free program that allows access to all the sites that hide from Google. The project, of the same name, originated in the military sector, sponsored the US Naval Research Laboratory and was supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation from 2004 to 2005. The software was under development and maintenance of Tor Project.
Tor uses numerous layers of security and encryption to render users anonymous online. Tor client software routes Internet traffic through a worldwide volunteer network of servers hiding user’s information eluding any activities of monitoring. The data are encrypted multiple times passing through nodes, Tor relays, of the network, ensuring user privacy.
In October 2013, government authorities shut down one of the most popular anonymous illegal drug distributor on the web, Silk Road 2.0. The online marketplace was part of the 'dark web', in which users could purchase illicit goods, like drugs and weapons, on sites invisible from standard search engines. Before it was shut down, Silk Road 2.0 grossed roughly $8 million in drug sales per month, typically in difficult-to-trace currencies such as bitcoin. 
"...There are the usual categories – Business and File Sharing for example, and then there’s some more hard core stuff – Adult and Hacking that includes child porn. 
The next stop is Hidden Wiki. This is the deformed cousin of Gumtree and it allows users to buy and sell anything they want. We search around for a little while and find stolen goods, fake artwork, firearms, drugs, explosives, prostitutes, party girls (whatever they are), guard dogs and fake passports. Finally the Hit Men tab catches our attention and we find ourselves looking at a long list of assassins. There is generally no mention of price but the titles on the ads will give you an idea of what’s on offer..." From an anonymous Dark Web viewer reporting for Vulture Magazine
Normally, file sharing and internet browsing activity can be tracked by law enforcement through each user's unique IP address that can be traced back to an individual computer. The Tor network on the Dark Web hides the IP address and the activity of the user.
What is the Dark Web?
The Dark Web is a term that refers specifically to a group of websites that are publicly visible, but hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them. They can be accessed by any web user, but it is very difficult to distinguish the authors of the sites. These sites cannot be found using conventional search engines.
Listed below are a few of the firearms sold in Dec. 2012 on Silk Road:
* IMI 9 mm uzi
* 44 magnum Desert Eagle
* 50 rounds of .22 ammunituzi
* 9 mm machine pistol with silencer
* 9 mm Beretta handgun
Along with the addition of weapons, Silk Road's main trade—illegal drugs—is booming. A few month earlier there were 343 items for sale under the drugs category; that's climbed to 1821 by the end of that year. Today the site has a more clean, professional appearance and smoother-running. They're even hiring; you need only to visit the new "careers" section, where you can apply to be a Silk Road customer service rep (Question 3: "What is your drug of choice"?).
This results from Tor; most sites on the Dark Web hide their identity using the Tor encryption tool. Known for its end-user-hiding properties, it can be used to hide your identity and obscure your location. A website running through Tor has much of the same effect; it multiplies the effect. Access to websites on the Dark Web requires the use of Tor encryption. Just as the end user's IP is bounced through several layers of encryption to appear to be at another IP address on the Tor network, so is that of the website.
However, Tor is not used by all Dark Web sites; some use similar services, e.g., I2P, which is used by the new Silk Road Reloaded. The principle remains the same; user access requires the same encryption tool as the site and the user must know where to find the site in order to type in the URL.
Dark Web or Deep Web? (Or Deepnet, Invisible Web, or Hidden Web) ???
Infamous examples of Dark Web sites include the Silk Road and its copycats. The Silk Road was a venue for the buying and selling of recreational drugs. However, there are legitimate uses for the Dark Web. People operating within closed, totalitarian societies can use the Dark Web to communicate with the outside world. And given recent revelations about US- and UK government monitoring web use, a user may use the Dark Web as an alternative communication tool.
According to a study conducted by Gareth Owen, a computer science researcher at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, more than four out of five visits to Tor hidden sites were linked to online destinations with content related to pedophilia, which is over five times as many as any other categories of content that researchers found in the study. The findings are expected to question supporters of the “dark net,” who defend the concept claiming that it is crucial to protect users’ privacy. Before we did this study, it was certainly my view that the dark net is a good thing,” Owen said. “But it’s hampering the rights of children and creating a place where pedophiles can act with impunity. 
Over a period of six months, Owen and his team of researchers identified about 80,000 hidden sites on Tor, and most of them did not stay online for a long time. Although the number of sites containing images of child abuse is small, the traffic they generated -- about 75 percent of all visits observed in the study -- outnumbered that of other sites. However, Owen said that it is yet to be concluded that actual users were behind all the visits to pedophilia sites
Although all the terms Dark Web, Deep Web, Deepnet, etc. tend to be used interchangeably, they don't refer to exactly the same thing. The 'Deep Web' refers to all web pages that search engines cannot find. Thus the 'Deep Web' includes the 'Dark Web', but also includes all user databases, webmail pages, registration-required web forums, and pages behind paywalls. There are large numbers of such pages, and most exist for mundane reasons.
'Dark Internet' is also a term sometimes used to describe further examples of networks, databases or even websites that cannot be reached over the internet. In this case either for technical reasons, or because the properties contain niche information that few people will want, or in some cases because the data is private.
The phrases 'Dark Web' or 'Deep Web' are typically used by print and web media to refer to secretive online worlds. To a greater extent, the 'Dark Internet' is basically uneventful, where scientists store raw data for research. The Deep Web is a more flamboyant term for all web pages that are not indexed for search.
The US Department of Homeland Security announced on March 2014 that it has arrested 14 men who were allegedly operating a child pornography Web site on the anonymous Tor network.
The arrests were the culmination of one of the agency’s largest ever online child exploitation investigations — dubbed “Operation Round Table.” The authorities have identified 251 victims who were exploited on the site. The majority of the victims, 243, were male and their ages ranged from 3 to 17; they were identified as being from 39 US states and five foreign countries. (United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Belgium)
The underground subscription-based Web site was allegedly led by Jonathan Johnson, 27, of Abita Springs, La. According to Homeland Security, he admitted to creating fake female personas on social networks to lure in male children and convince them to record explicit videos of themselves. 
Accessing the Dark Web
To enter the Dark Web, you need only to install and use Tor ( and download the Tor Browser Bundle, which contains all the required tools. Run the downloaded file, choose an extraction location, then open the folder and click Start Tor Browser. The Vidalia Control Panel will automatically handle the randomized network setup and, when Tor is ready, the browser will open; it must be closed to disconnect from the network. Users recommend blocking your laptop's webcam to prevent spying while using the browser.
Once you get into the Dark Web, sites selling drugs, illegal narcotics, prostitution, guns, and pornographic material are but a click away. According several researches, the principal search engines index only a small portion of the overall web content, the remaining part is unknown to the majority of web users.
A simple but accurate definition of the Deep Web may be derived from a statement by the founder of BrightPlanet, Mike Bergman; he compared searching on the Internet today to dragging a net across the surface of the ocean: a great deal may be caught in the net, but there is a wealth of information that is deep and therefore missed.
Ordinary search engines to find content on the web using software called “crawlers”. This technique is ineffective for finding the hidden resources of the Web that could be classified into the following categories:
Dynamic content: dynamic pages which are returned in response to a submitted query or accessed only through a form, especially if open-domain input elements (such as text fields) are used; such fields are hard to navigate without domain knowledge. Unlinked content: pages which are not linked to by other pages, which may prevent Web crawling programs from accessing the content. This content is referred to as pages without backlinks (or inlinks).
Private Web: sites that require registration and login(password-protected resources).
Contextual Web: pages with content varying for different access contexts (e.g., ranges of client IP addresses or previous navigation sequence).
Limited access content: sites that limit access to their pages in a technical way (e.g., using the Robots Exclusion Standard, CAPTCHAs, or no-cache Pragma HTTP headers which prohibit search engines from browsing them and creating cached copies).
Scripted content: pages that are only accessible through links produced by JavaScript as well as content dynamically downloaded from Web servers via Flash or Ajax solutions.
Non-HTML/text content: textual content encoded in multimedia (image or video) files or specific file formats not handled by search engines. Text content using the Gopher protocol and files hosted on FTP that are not indexed by most search engines. Engines such as Google do not index pages outside of HTTP or HTTPS.
A parallel web that has a much wider number of information represents an invaluable resource for private companies, governments, and especially cyber crime. In the imagination of many users, the DeepWeb term is associated with the concept of anonymity that goes with criminal intents the cannot be pursued because submerged in an inaccessible world.
What happened after the Federal investigation?
The FBI has requested that Marques, 28, be extradited to the United States to stand trial. But the operation did not stop hackers. The Daily Dot reports that the day after Marques was arrested, hackers uploaded malicious code to Freedom Hosting's servers. The code was designed to attack the browsers of anyone who accessed the anonymous sites. It reportedly collected internet browser data and surfing history, which could help identify the location of users of the anonymous site. As a result of the attack, pedophiles who had previously trafficked images of child sexual abuse without fear of being discovered since the Dark Web offered anonymity, realized that their identities could be compromised. Pedophile message boards that were once bustling with activity suddenly went dark.
The administrator of the 4Pedo forum, which operates on the Dark Web, posted a warning to users before he took the forum offline: 'ALL BOARDS HAVE BEEN DELETED TO PROTECT YOU! IF THE BOARDS COME BACK UP, IT IS NOT ME RUNNING THE SITE ANYMORE!'
Numerous other pedophile sites on the Dark Web that use Tor encryption have gone offline, as well.
Along with the lingering child-porn sites, users can freely purchase any number of illegal items on the site - drugs, stolen identities, assassins, illegal weapons and explosives.

Users should also expect that they could be the next target of the U.S. government attack.

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