Believe it or not, most people being busted on the Deep Web / Dark net are simply making stupid mistakes, and rarely is it entirely the fault of the imperfect software. Consider for example some of the most common mistakes pedophiles and drug buyers make.
Ordinarily, law enforcement doesn’t know where darknet websites are because of anonymizing software. They can barely start an investigation based on just one user’s hearsay. However, many users stupidly leave comments on the surface web, such as YouTube, 4Chan, Reddit and so on.
Some will post pictures and forget that poor technique will leave metadata in the pictures, providing police more evidence to work with.
While it’s hard to find encrypted data, it’s fairly easy to take down drug stores with undercover agents posing as customers. Using snail mail addresses to ship drugs, guns or other illegal content can provide the physical evidence that police need to make an arrest. All it takes is an undercover agent to make the deal and a criminal investigation to dust for fingerprints, or to find drugs and paraphernalia.
Sometimes darknet users fall into the trap of using surface websites. For example, using a VPN but then entering your address on Google Map, sends traceable information to Google. Google, Facebook, and all the other local-centric sites log all information and they don’t purge it.
Accidentally entering local information into a surface or “non-darknet Deep Website”, while using a VPN, has compromised your security. Human error catches up with you quickly when performing illegal activities. If you’re prone to human error, and plan on doing any espionage, then definitely use TOR as well as a VPN.
Less Common Mistakes Made in Anonymous Surfing Online
Bitcoins are sometimes the downfall of would-be anarchists, as bitcoin transaction records are public. Purchasing illegal goods can sometimes tie you to your surface web identity as well as other websites you visit.
Think about how you set up a bitcoin account—funding your account with a credit card, or PayPal account right? That’s easily searchable for government agencies. Agencies can track down individual transactions based on specific bitcoin amounts traded.
One proposed solution is the invention of a new digital currency not associated with Bitcoin. Dashcoin is supposedly an anonymous currency, but it’s not as widely accepted as Bitcoin.
Trusting People on Darknet Common Mistakes
While there probably trustworthy people on the darknet, there are also plenty of bad guys…and plenty who will pretend to be your friend.
Onion sites, associated with TOR, do not make up the entire oceanic Deep Web. New Onion sites are somewhat easy to find and that means these sites are also easy for law enforcement to find, especially if you’re using a well known site like The Hidden Wiki.
In order to entrap pedophiles, authorities are fighting back digitally as well as with undercover agents.
Netherlands charity Terre des Hommes created a CGI bot that was designed to help lure pedophiles into conversation so they could be identified.
Using Public WI-FI Common Mistakes Made in Anonymous Surfing Online
A surprisingly dumb move, and many people will actually ask questions online about setting up their TOR browser on a mobile phone. However, if you are in a neutral place like a library or café where you can have privacy, you don’t actually have anonymity. The ISP of the establishment can track your usage and find hidden browser histories. All of these visits are logged. You also expose yourself to the threat of public photographs, proving you were at the location using the Internet. That’s leaving physical evidence behind. Using darknet from a public WI-FI is an amateur mistake.
Using an Unsafe OS and Hard Drive
Windows is simply believed to be unsafe in comparison to Linux, because of a number of “back doors” that makes spying easy. A Linux OS, particularly one developed outside of your home country, would be the best way to deflect an investigation.
Even the users that work with Linux don’t seem to understand how to use it properly. A hard drive operating systems is constantly storing files on the same drive as the OS. While there are OS’s like TAILS, an even better idea is to simply use TAILS from a USB drive or DVD disc—no hard drive memory required. This is means less information your computer stores about your online habits.
Of course, just because you avoid the most obvious mistakes most users make doesn’t mean you’re in the clear yet. The truth is ever since whistleblowers have made headlines in world news, the NSA and other spying agencies, not to mention the FBI and state or county law enforcement are actively searching out people who may be performing illegal activity on the web.