10.10.2023

Darknet as Part of the Internet: Youth and Cybersecurity

Darknet as Part of the Internet: Youth and Cybersecurity

The participants of the discussion were Milos Jovanovic, President of OpenLink Group, Gabriela Marcelja, President of the International Company Sirius Global, Pedro Lana, Project Director of ISOC Brazil, Izaan Khan, ISOC 2022 Youth Envoy and Fiffi Abraham Selby, Program Director for Information Technology at the Foundation for E-Government and Internet Governance for Africa (EGIGFA). The moderator was Alina Ustinova, Senior Expert on External Communications at the Center for Global IT-Cooperation.

Milos Jovanovic noted that the use of a darknet or software that outputs to the darknet does not always mean a person's intention to commit a crime, because after all, cybercrimes occur everywhere. "You need to understand that the darknet is just a part of the so-called deep Internet ("deep web"). And when we talk about offenses on the Internet and the prohibited content that is posted on it, we must understand that all this is close to us - in the "big" Internet, and not just in the "dark" part of it. Therefore, it is extremely important to improve protection systems against various kinds of violations throughout the online space, not limited to just one part of it," he concluded.

Does the "darknet" phenomenon always automatically mean something related to illegal or malicious activity? After all, as the participants of the discussion noted, quite a lot of users use browsers like Tor (the most well-known way to access the darknet) for normal search and visiting quite familiar news resources and social networks, believing that this will secure the connection.

In addition, the fight against cybercrime is impossible without the access of law enforcement agencies to the "darknet". "Many criminals were detained by the police because of this. Obviously, everything has its pros and cons. And a complete ban of the "darknet" is hardly possible, at least because, as practice shows, a new technology invariably appears in place of something forbidden, which will be even more difficult to keep track of. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to find a balance between anonymity, freedom of speech and user safety," Izaan Khan said.

Fiffi Selby reminded about the dangers of the darknet, because there you can stumble not only on scammers, but also on malware. "The main problem is that users do not fully understand how to protect themselves from cyber threats. And some of them deliberately resort to using software to access the "darknet" in order to preserve their privacy in the online space. Therefore, the most logical way out is to create more secure applications so that people can trust accessing the network through a regular browser more than using encryption software. And this can be achieved only through the joint efforts of specialists around the world," he said.

Gabriela Marcejla spoke about how developing technologies can help in the future with the fight against crime in the "darknet". For example, AI and some programs can already uncover money laundering schemes, as well as calculate patterns of criminals, which makes it possible to identify repetitive ones. "Now many countries are focusing more on biometric identification of users, although it seems to me that for Internet security we need to focus on improving the quality of software and equipment in order to fight cybercrime more effectively," she concluded.

Pavel Zoneff, a representative of the Tor Project, also spoke at the session, who cited interesting statistics: it turned out that only 1% of all Tor browser traffic refers to "onion servers", that is, pages directly located in the darknet. The most popular resource visited by Tor users is Facebook (Meta service, recognized as an extremist organization in Russia). That is, in fact, Tor is used like any other browser. He also stressed that cybercrime exists not only in the "darknet" segment, but also in the "clean Internet", especially if we take into account that the number of pages in the "darknet" is in the thousands, and there are billions of sites on the Internet.

As a result of the discussion, the speakers came to the conclusion that excessive introduction of bans may lead to the emergence of other dangerous tools for ensuring anonymity on the Internet, which may be unpredictable. Therefore, it is important to implement more cybersecurity education and training of new information security specialists in different parts of the world.