By Natalie O’Brien
More Australians than ever are secretly accessing the notorious Dark Web as cyber experts warn the explosion in use of the anonymous internet platform could have serious ramifications for crime.
Data collected by The Tor Project shows a spike in users in the past two months using “bridges” an intermediary internet access point which goes one step further in hiding internet browsing activity by also hiding computer IP addresses.
It comes as Information compiled by the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University has revealed that for every 100,000 internet users in Australia up to 50 are now using the Dark Web.
The latest rise in figures has prompted warnings from cyber-crime experts like former top U.K. Cop Peter Davies.
Mr Davies, now the executive director of analysis and response for Austability, warned that his biggest concern is that many authorities do not have any visibility on what is happening on the Dark Web.
“Organised Criminals are utilising the Dark Web for the sale of drugs, guns, contraband and images of sexual and child abuse,” said Mr Davies.
“You don’t know who you will come into contact with by using it,” he said.
The Dark Web was infamously used for money laundering and drug trafficking through the site known as The Silk Road, before it was busted by the FBI.
The Dark Web is alternate internet engine which was established by the US Navy to enable anonymous internet browsing and secure communications for the military.
It is similar to a search engine like google, but is only accessible through special software.
It can be used to find things or sites that are hidden or encrypted and not searchable using google and other internet search engines.
Mr Davies told the CYMASS 2017 conference in Dubai that restrictions on internet use in some countries may also be driving people to use the Dark Web.
He explained that it can be used as a tunnel to get around censorship or blocking of sites by authorities.
Mr Davies said the problem for law enforcement is that they don’t know what is going on in the dark web and they struggle to assess the extent of its use.
He said authorities everywhere needed to step up their working knowledge and surveillance of activities on the Dark Web.
“However much we know now, it won’t be good enough in the next 10 years,” said Mr Davies.
“It is possible, like never before, to plan (nefarious) activities that are under the radar”, said Mr Davies, “that is why the use of the Dark Web is so worrying.”
This article originally appeared on MARCH 13, 2017 on the Security Is Your Business website securityisyourbusiness.com