Interpol has entered a partnership with the South Korean data intelligence startup, S2W Lab, to monitor darknet activities, focusing on the use of cryptocurrencies in illicit dealings. This new collaboration was revealed on March 20 in what can be considered as a renewed resolve by the International Criminal Police Organization to arrest the growth of dark web-fueled cybercrime.
In principle, the dark web’s ability to provide internet access through overlay networks and special protocols has attracted the criminal world. Anonymized spaces have become hotbeds of unregulated environments where credit fraud, drug sales, identity theft and the weapons trade control the order of the day.
In order for criminals to operate under the radar of law enforcement, they resort to using Bitcoin and other forms of virtual currencies. It can be inferred that cryptocurrencies and the dark web are interconnected at the hip – they have operated in a symbiotic manner to ensure the success of criminal organizations.
In fact, a close brief study into the operation and fate of famous darknet markets supports the premise that virtual money has continued to facilitate the spread and growth of international crime.
Among the most powerful stories is that of the now-defunct Silk Road and the imprisonment of Ross Ulbricht, its founder. It is remembered that Silk Road provided an escrow service that fulfilled the needs of darknet vendors and buyers – it would ensure that buyers received ordered goods, mostly drugs, and vendors received their crypto.
This dark web platform was only accessible via Tor, which ensured that the locations of websites and crypto was kept secret. It turned out that this crypto-darknet collaboration led to millions of dollars in annual turnovers.
Unsurprisingly, since Silk Road was shut down by authorities, the complexity of darknet platforms has increased tremendously – including their dependence on crypto as the currency of choice.
A Blockchain-Focused Startup
The Korean S2W Lab was established in 2018 – focusing on providing public protection against cybercrime, an issue that has been bolstered by the anonymity of hidden web platforms that depend on cryptocurrencies to survive.
As a blockchain-focused company, S2W Lab claims to have acquired a huge amount of dark web data in creating its darknet database. The startup utilizes the principles of artificial intelligence to examine information and establish links between various domains and timeframes. In fact, the organization boasts of owning a number of patents relating to dark web and cryptocurrency analysis.
Among S2W Lab’s recent projects include their study of the dark web’s role in fueling the current coronavirus infodemic – spotting the germination of a hidden market for COVID-19 face masks within dark web platforms. The company studied the frequency of code words related to the pandemic and established a fact file concerning the corona-related darknet listings.
An Important Partnership
The Interpol- S2W Lab agreement will augment the global efforts invested against policing the dark web and the associated cryptocurrency industry. As far as Interpol is concerned, the law enforcement agency will capitalize on the technology and expertise up the startup’s sleeve to arrest the growth of cybercriminal networks.
In addition, just to ensure mutual benefit, Interpol will avail investigative data to S2W Lab in order to modernize the process of investigating cybercrime. This aspect is reflected in remarks made by S2W Lab’s CEO, Suh Sangduk, who acknowledged the challenges faced by cyber intelligence firms and law enforcement agencies in facing the complexities created by crypto-supported dark web cybercrimes.
Sangduk further remarked that the new partnership will help his organization join the global platform in ensuring that distributed ledger technologies (DLT) are used for good purposes.
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