QA | 18 November 2016
For 19 year old Liam Lyburd buying a Glock semi-automatic pistol on the Dark Web was as easy “as buying chocolate”. He was quoted saying this following his arrest and subsequent conviction after planning a mass shooting at Newcastle College, similar to the Columbine massacre in the US.
Luckily the police were tipped off by someone concerned by his posts on social media. However, if he had kept all his activities on the Dark Web they may not have been so lucky.
Even the words “the Dark Web” conjures up images of criminal underworlds but exactly what is the Dark Web, how is it used, and how could a teenager use it to buy illegal weapons? Given cases like that of Mr Lyburd the interest in the Dark Web for law enforcement is obvious, but should private sector have as much of an interest?
To explore the Dark Web we should first mention Tor; a piece of software that can be used very effectively to keep a user’s activities online anonymous. It is Tor that is used to connect to what is known as Tor Hidden Services, which has become synonymous with the Dark Web. Tor Hidden Services allow a website to obfuscate its IP address, which makes locating and closing it down very difficult. Alternative Dark Webs are available but the most commonly used and publicised one is the one accessed using Tor.
It is not just criminals that use Tor to anonymise their activities; human rights activists, governments and terrorists all have been known to use the software. Hackers in particular use Tor to hide their activities and locations. The FBI recently revealed that during the hack into Hillary Clinton’s email someone had connected to the server using Tor, and IP addresses known linked to what are known as Tor exit nodes. Closer to home, it was reported that hackers had boasted thefts from Tesco Bank of £2.5m recently.
This is where the relevance comes for any business. Detecting and stopping connections from services such as Tor can and often should be an integral part of any company’s security policies. Often IT professionals and security teams do not even understand the threat the Dark Web may pose to their business and therefore do nothing about it.
QA’s one-day Dark Web course explores anonymising software including Tor in-depth, the threats and opportunities of them and the ways a network or business can be protected against attacks coming from these mediums.
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