Booming business on dark web ::

Opt-in to Cyber Safety. Multiple layers of protection for your devices, online privacy and more.

— The recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline has raised new concerns about cybersecurity.

Cyberattacks have grown during the coronavirus pandemic, and sites on the dark web are thriving with information and good obtained through those hacks, according to security experts.

“They’ve got everything from bank logins, credit cards, corporate intelligence,” says Neal Bridges, a cybersecurity expert and chief content officer for Cary-based INE. “There are quite a few known dark net marketplace websites that sell anything from drugs, guns, fake IDs, passports, credit card numbers, personal identifiable information.”

Most people surf the surface web, which accounts for only 4 percent of the internet. The deep web, which includes protected sites for medical and legal records, accounts for about 90 percent. The remainder is the dark web and its illicit activities.

Using a special browser to hide his identity and navigate the dark web, Bridges searched “Carolina” on one site and found plenty of hits:

  • A template for North Carolina driver’s licenses that sells for about $1
  • A Social Security number and a date of birth for a North Carolina resident.
  • Some 7.4 million records in North Carolina’s voter database.

“There’s a database leak from the website,” he said,

The majority of the personal information on the dark net was stolen through hacking or email scams, he said.

Simon Migliano, who researches sales trends on the dark web, said regardless of how the information is obtained, business has been booming during the pandemic.

“We’ve probably seen some of the most interesting movement over the past couple of years in the last 12 months,” he said. “What I would say is since the pandemic there’s been a lot more listings.”

Migliano attributed the increase to lockdowns that had more people at home spending more time on the internet buying more services and goods to survive the isolation.

“We’re seeing a lot more lifestyle brand accounts for sale on the dark web that we’ve never seen before,” he said. “The users on many of these…