Killers for hire, illegal drugs freely available for Pinoys in ‘Dark Web’

By Edd K. Usman

There is more to the Internet than just movies and music and shopping and selfies. A shadowy part of the Internet called the “Dark Web” is a marketplace that sells illegal drugs, guns, counterfeit goods, pornography, and offers services such as killers for hire, among others.

Besides providing complete anonymity, the Dark Web also attracts whistle-blowers, journalists, and, as expected, law-enforcement agents chasing criminals.

Dark Net (1)

This is according to Erez Lugassi, security architect and AVP for marketing and business development of Maroev Cyber Systems, a cybersecurity consulting firm and a member of Fibercom Telecommunications Philippines.

During his lecture presented during an event organized by the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ICCP), Lugassi said that cybersecurity experts have divided cyberspace into three dimensions: Surface or Clear Web; Deep Web; and Dark Web.

Clear Web is the domain of casual digital citizens who can use any browser to access it. Deep Web contains legal documents, medical records, academic information, like research studies, etc., but only members are allowed to access them since they require passwords and special search engines.

Meanwhile, the Dark Web is a hacker’s world, a black market for illegal goods, among others. It can only be accessed through the use of very special tools, one of them is the TOR (The Onion Router) browser which enables anonymous communication and browsing. Users have to tweak TOR in order to use it on Dark Web.

During his presentation, he showed Philippine websites that sell illegal drugs and guns and offers services such as dating and hackers for hire.

The most popular Dark Web site is called AlphaBay allegedly owned and administered by Alexander Cazes, a 26-year-old Canadian computer wizard and multimillionaire.

Since AlphaBay has “unique advantages,” such as an easily navigable “Ebay-like site,” clients were able to give their reviews, use escrow for payments, offer referral/affiliate programs, and scam prevention.

Citing figures from the European Police and United States’ Department of Justice (DOJ), Lugassi said Cazes’ black market website “had as many as 40,000 vendors and 200,000 members.

US and European authorities were able to trace him to Thailand and arrested him on July 5 this year after he inadvertently outed himself through his email address,

According to Lugassi, when authorities seized Cazes’ laptop, he had a total net worth of $23,033,975 and also owned a Lamborghini costing $1 million. Authorities later said they already asked for the forfeiture of his Thailand properties, such as bank accounts and four vehicles that included a Lamborghini and a Porsche, and real estate properties.

US authorities wanted him extradited but Cazes was found dead on July 12, said to be a case of suicide, in his prison cell at Bangkok’s Narcotics Suppression Bureau. He was about to meet prosecutors to discuss his impending extradition.

A website in the Philippines' Dark Net selling shabu.

A website in the Philippines’ Dark Web selling shabu

Different kinds of hackers

In his presentation at the ICCP event dubbed Cyber Defense Forum on Oct. 25, Lugassi also gave a lecture on various hacker terms.

“Hacking is unauthorized access to or control over computer network security systems for some illicit purpose,” Lugassi said during his presentation.

Among the threat agents or actors, Lugassi identified, were cyber criminals, cyber terrorists, hacktivists (Anonymous, LulzSec, Jester, Decocidio, milw0rm, Telecomix, Qassam Cyber Fighters), agents of cyber warfare (G2G or government to government), and agents of cyber intelligence of competing enterprises.

Lugassi said there are different kinds of hackers, such as White Hacker (ethical hackers who protect systems and people), Black Hacker (criminals and other wrongdoers), Grey Hat Hackers (conflicted hackers who are not sure which side of the law to be on), Script Kiddies (stylish name for novice hackers who are still unskilled; they can be white, black or grey hat hackers), hacktivists (hackers who is social activist fighting for a cause), as well as Red Hat Hackers, known as the vigilantes of the hackers’ world, Green Hat Hackers, and Blue Hat Hackers whose goal is vengeance.

What are the types of attacks? Either to damage enemies, expose secrets; steal identities; steal information; extort using ransomware; steal credit card information; deface websites; DoS (denial of service)/DDoS (distributed denial of service); botnets; and social engineering.

Transactions, the Israeli expert said, on the Dark Web are through Bitcoin cryptocurrency, or the digital money.

Lugassi cautioned casual or ordinary Internet users not to go into the Dark Web. But for journalists, he said, the hidden cyberspace could be a good source of information.

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