The Different Types of Sites on the Dark Web. 2/3
The dark web contains many sites that host source code. The equivalent on the clear web is GitHub, an online management and hosting service for software development.
The dark web also features its own versions of these web services.
This means we can find malicious people that offer ready-to-use malware3 or personal backups of code repositories. The purpose is always the same: to find an uncensored space that offers freedom of expression. This philosophy, which is key to the dark web itself, means that repositories can easily be either malicious (like the screenshot below) or harmless, with communities of open source software developers or personal backups for educational purposes.
The developer also mentioned that they prefer for the code associated with their projects to be consulted on the dark web to guarantee complete freedom.
Private repository containing various copies of source code.
Lastly, on the borderline between source code repositories and file hosting sites, the dark web also contains online “Paste” services. They are usually referred to by the name of the most well-known tool: Pastebin. Pastebin is a web application that publicly and anonymously publishes a message in the form of text, generally source code or URLs.
These applications are popular and easy to use, making it possible to quickly post and publish text. They also exist on the dark web, guaranteeing greater anonymity and freedom of expression.
These services can be used to quickly share malware source code between ill-intended people, post links for downloading data leaks, or publish classified ads to sell weapons or drugs.
File Hosting Sites
File hosting sites are the next-to-last category of sites on the dark web. This type of digital service is also similar to what is available on the clear web while adding new elements.
As a result, the data posted on these sites can vary greatly, from the most trivial to the most sensitive. We can find anything from press reviews to malware to data leaks. There are as many types of hosting sites as there are types of files to host.
Showcase site for a group of cybercriminals
The screenshot to the top shows public projects for a group of cybercriminals, Darkmode Repository. The file names (like “hall of shame” and “marketplace”) are fairly clear, and we can easily imagine what the group does.
This example of a file hosting site may serve as a showcase for a community of pirates to gain exposure to sell more hacking or cyberattack services or simply to boost their reputation and legitimacy in a competitive environment.
Another example of illegal activity includes websites that host some or all the files from a data breach. These data leaks resulting from a cyberattack are exposed on the dark web as a means of coercion to obtain a ransom payment (as with a ransomware attack). These attacks, which became popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, have dramatically increased the attack surface of information systems, and consequently the vulnerability to and occurrence of even further attacks.
The screenshot to the right illustrates a data leak resulting from ransomware that targeted a large company. Since the firm refused to pay the ransom, the group of cybercriminals provided open access to part of the stolen data.
Lastly, some sites host more “standard” files. These software “shop” allow visitors to choose the programs they want from a variety of specific categories.
The screenshot to left shows the site Digital Thrift Shop, where visitors can download data leaks, ransomware, or even educational books and videos.
Ultimately, the dark web contains the same type of sites as the regular web. However, by guaranteeing freedom of expression and anonymity, it also allows criminal activity to flourish.
The dark web is a lawless space that contains as many risks as it does freedoms. Thanks to this overview of these different sites, we can now see that although the dark web is an integral part of the Internet, it is a very different environment that gives free rein to anarchy, a mercenary spirit, and spaces for free expression.