The dark web is a central player in the cyber world, acting as a breeding ground for illicit activities that have shaken the cores of diplomatic, governance, and entrepreneurial worlds. A recent report from 2023 by the NCRP revealed that India saw a seismic 61% increase in cybercrime complaints, with 129 complaints reported per lakh population. This surge in cybercrimes can largely be attributed to the integration of the dark web and cyber activities.
The dark web has created a thriving ecosystem for cyber attacks, with India’s remote district Nuh experiencing more than 28,000 cybercrimes that are rooted in the dark web. It has become an illicit marketplace that hosts an array of illegal goods, including drugs, stolen items, weapons, counterfeit money, and much more. Moreover, ransomware attacks have become a refined form of crime, wherein cybercriminals encrypt victims’ data and demand a ransom for its release. Additionally, the dark web has become a breeding ground for government and corporate espionage, making apex organizations vulnerable to full-fledged attacks.
The dark web provides a haven for criminals to carry out illegal and immoral activities. From dark markets selling illicit drugs and contraband weapons to websites offering assassination services and terrorism, the dark web is rife with nefarious activities. It also houses websites offering access to extreme child pornography, making it a deeply concerning space that poses a serious danger to vulnerable individuals. However, there is also a grey area in which the dark web is known to be used for hacktivism, where individuals use offensive methods to shed light on critical social and political issues.
Recognizing the rising popularity of the dark web and its threat to national security, the Indian government has emphasized the importance of digital trust and legitimacy. Efforts are being made to establish a uniform cyber strategy, bolster awareness regarding cybercrimes, and encourage real-time reporting of such offenses. The Indian Cyber-Crime Coordination Centre has been established to ensure a comprehensive response to cybercrime, and there is a growing need for private and government players to take proactive steps to establish a collaborative network featuring cybersecurity experts. This includes robust security training for apex organizations and government teams, as well as the inclusion of cybersecurity training in educational curriculums to prepare the future workforce to combat cybercrimes effectively.
By fostering a cybercrime-ready workforce through education and collaboration, India aims to pave the way towards a culture of cyberpeace. As the threats emanating from the dark web continue to evolve, it is essential for the country to stay ahead of the curve and remain vigilant against the complexities and challenges of cyberspace.