Trust Between Criminals is the Darknet’s Real Currency

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On July 20, 2017, U.S. and European law enforcement authorities announced they had jointly taken down two major darknet marketplace sites: AlphaBay and Hansa. These sites, which aspire to operate in the shadows beyond the reach of national and international police forces and organizations, present a significant risk to national security and to financial systems.

To understand how this works, think of the internet as an iceberg. The darknet is the portion that exists beneath the water’s surface, invisible without additional efforts – passwords and special software – to see it. By contrast, the tip of the iceberg is what most people know, see, and use – but constitutes just a small fraction of the overall. The vast majority of the internet is not indexed. In fact, according to a study published in Nature, Google only indexes 16 percent of the surface internet. Put differently, any single search produces up to only 0.03 percent of the information that exists online.

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