Internet hacking should be legalized

On the move in the Darknet: "If you want me to destroy someone's life, I'll do it."

We were with the police in the Darknet ... and it was surprisingly light there. Who hangs around there, what is on offer and where the line to illegality lies.

Black screens with green numbers and letters à la Matrix floating around on them. This is how one imagines the Darknet. But what is it really like in this corner of the internet? And how do you even get there?

The Carinthian police have been working intensively with the Darknet for a good five years. It's the place to get everything a criminal's heart desires - from drugs to stolen passports and credit cards. Accordingly, the investigations often lead to this corner of the Internet.

The Darknet greets you every day

Reinhold Jank is a departmental inspector at the Carinthian regional police department and is responsible for IT security, computer forensics and the preservation of evidence. With the Carinthian author Bernhard Regenfelder, who is working on a trilogy on exactly this topic, he regularly holds workshops in schools - including live hacking. Jank is out and about on the Darknet almost every day. This time he's taking us.

"Getting started is relatively easy"says Jank as he starts his laptop. “There are enough instructions on the Internet. However, it is much more difficult to find your way around. " There are search engines that work similarly to Google. However, it is practically impossible to find hidden pages. At least if you don't know exactly what to look for.

While a URL ends with “.com” or “.at” in the mainstream Internet, there is the abbreviation “.onion” in the Darknet. These pages cannot be accessed with a regular browser such as Chrome or Firefox.

After his computer boots up, Jank picks up a USB stick. The Tor browser is stored on it; the ticket to the Darknet, so to speak. Moving there is legal, by the way.

Jank has already saved a list of pages. The virus protection is updated and the WLAN connection is up. Nothing stands in the way of the digital excursion.

Hacking as a business model

The first link leads us to the site of a hacker who offers his services on the Darknet. “(Illegal) hacking has been my business since I was 16. I never had a real job, so I had time to get really good at hacking, ”he writes. As a computer expert, he could earn up to 100 euros per hour: "So stop reading if you have a problem with spending some money hacking."

Despite the hacker's alleged expertise, his website looks rather poorly put together. It is very reminiscent of the Internet in the 2000s. The icing on the cake: The title of the page, "Rent-A-Hacker", is written in Comic Sans.

"I can ruin your adversaries, companies or individuals you don't like."

In the following paragraph the stranger describes his abilities. Among other things, he is proficient in SQL, HTML and other web languages. He is also good at phishing. But it only gets really frightening when he describes the type of assignments for which he is responsible.

Because, as the hacker says, he is not a pussy: "If you want me to destroy a company or someone's life, I'll do it." And further: "I can ruin your adversaries, companies or individuals you don't like." And not just financially. If the said adversary is to be arrested, he can arrange that too. And: "If you want someone to be known as a child porn user, that's no problem."

If you trust the website, it only costs between 250 and 900 euros to destroy a life. Bitcoins are used to pay for.

"The guy has been on the darknet for a long time"says Jank. "Every now and then he had to change his side because someone found him." But to this day nobody knows who it is.

Content confiscated

But what is really special about the Darknet? "The anonymity"says Jank. “You are redirected to the pages via various nodes. It is difficult to trace that back. " But that doesn't mean that criminals can feel safe. "Sometimes the FBI also builds pages to track down criminals." Or portals are turned off. So we don't get very far with the next link that we want to call up.

"The platform and the criminal content were confiscated", it says there. At the top left is the logo of the German Federal Criminal Police Office, on the right that of the Public Prosecutor's Office in Frankfurt am Main. Despite anonymity, you are not safe even on the Darknet.

And sometimes investigators make bogus purchases. Because not only services, but also goods are offered in the Darknet

The next page we visit has the illustrious name “Dream Market”. This is, so to speak, the Amazon for drug dealers and buyers. From steroids to opioids to ecstasy and cocaine - everything a junkie's heart desires has been there since 2013.

We look around and look for cocaine that is shipped within Austria. One push of a button and the “Dream Market” spits out thousands of results. A provider shows humor and lures customers with a photo montage: He has placed the “Yes, of course!” Seal over his cocaine using Photoshop.

As with regular online shopping, there are ratings and reviews here too.

"For example, this provider has already made more than 3000 sales and a rating of 4.94 stars"says Jank. In the past month alone there were 277 people who ordered drugs from him. If you believe the reviews, this is good material. "Fast delivery. As always a dream ", writes one user, while another praises the airtight packaging.

If he measures the fabric with a calibrated scale, the provider lets his customers know: "So please no weight complaints with kitchen scales." Apart from that, he just ran out of weed: "But hash is a good alternative."

By the way, we are still in the legal area at this point. "But as soon as you do something illegal, that is, order drugs, that changes"says Jank. The same applies to calling up videos or photos that show child porn or IS glorification, for example. Viewing such material is illegal.

Human kidney?

Contract killers, weapons, or even organs - there is nothing that cannot be found on the Darknet. Jank: "Of course, the question always arises as to how serious the providers are." For example, a fraudster could hide behind an alleged contract killer who first collects as much information as possible about his client and then uses it to blackmail them. And who knows whether the kidney offered is actually a human one.

We want to know which darknet find has shocked Jank the most so far. "There are numerous IS videos that show actual beheadings"says Jank. And some clips like these have already found their way onto the “regular” Internet.

But the darknet and anonymity do not only have dark sides, according to the police officer. Some people just use it to be anonymous in forums. And: "I am convinced that the Darknet also played an important role in social movements such as the Arab Spring."

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