The Dark Web and Cybercrime by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

The Darkweb is a network of overlay networks that use the internet and require specific software or credentials to access. It includes surface web, deep web, and dark web which require the Tor Browser and may require additional credentials. The dark web is often associated with criminal activities such as narcotics, payment card fraud, identity theft, cybercrime and cybercrime–as–services.

Criminal activity on the dark web can be found in forums and marketplaces, with different barriers to entry and entry prices. forums are used to coordinate sales and share wisdom, tactics techniques and procedures while marketplaces are e-commerce sites similar to those found on the surface of the web. Both types of sites have escrow systems and are more susceptible to shutdown due to exit-scamming or law enforcement action. 

The Dark web is not similar to crime, as many people use it for legitimate reasons like political disagreement or private communication. Cybercriminal communities thrive in the dark, such as Silk Road, alphabay, Hansa and Dream. These communities also use surface websites or other privacy-focused hosting solutions.

The categories of dark web cybercrime culture are characterised by scams between users, site administrators and buyers and sellers. Credible accusations of scamming or ripping can result in bans and ostracization. Site admission policies and reputation points are used to keep bad out of sites and evaluate user behaviour. Actors establish personas across multiple sites to show their credibility and networks of actors across sites can distribute stolen data widely.

The life cycle of stolen data involves filtering through communities, eventually landing in open forums or large marketplaces, and being sold and resold. The dark web is not synonymous with crime, but it is a significant part of the cybercriminal landscape.

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