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Darknets as Tools for Cyber Warfare

: Denker, Kai; Schäfer, Marcel; Steinebach, Martin


Reuter, Christian:
Information Technology for Peace and Security : IT Applications and Infrastructures in Conflicts, Crises, War, and Peace
Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 2019
ISBN: 978-3-658-25651-7 (Print)
ISBN: 978-3-658-25652-4 (Online)
Book Article
Fraunhofer SIT ()

Darknets serve as licit privacy networks to enable activists, journalists, and others to communicate anonymously and avoid censorship. Yet Darknets also allow for illicit file sharing and trafficking. Besides much-discussed narcotics and child abuse material, goods and services offered on Darknet markets include counterfeit currency, forged documents, weaponry, malicious software, zero-day exploits, and hacking services. Hence, Darknets are a major concern, not only for civilian security institutions like law enforcement, but also for national and international security. In the context of cyber warfare, Darknets enable or support several practices: impeding attribution of attacks by fostering anonymity, trading of cyber-arms and their building blocks like zero-day exploits, providing simple and sophisticated hacking services, and dissemination of information from secrets to fake news. In this chapter, we explain the technology behind Tor, a widely used Darknet client, provide an overview of common Darknet phenomena and discuss them in context of cyber warfare. Finally, we analyse these discourses within the framework of critical securitisation studies.