The Dark Web Is On The Rise In South Africa
According to current metrics published by Tor, the daily dark web users in South Africa has increased to 8000 users per day. This involves activities such as purchasing drugs from darknet markets, visiting child porn sites, carding forums, and so on.
In order to prevent the increase of dark web users and to track down those who use this side of the net, the local police in South Africa are teaming up with and trained by law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, in order to track down the dark net users of the country. However, they had no success in such activities so far.
The head of the Electronic Crime Unit of the Hawks, Brigadier Piet Pieterse stated that it is nearly impossible to monitor dark web users in South Africa. He made this statement:
“I think it’s extremely difficult to establish exactly what they are doing on the Dark Web.”
The ”rising threat” of the increasing dark net users was brought to attention by the South African Police Service (SAPS) last year. That was the time when the South African government has decided to provide extensive training to the local police.
“It is difficult to locate perpetrators or monitor this web because of the anonymity,” stated Pieterse, describing their situation.
“Unlike the FBI, we can’t go into the Dark Web and pose as buyers or seller of drugs, for example, to catch the criminals. We work with intelligence we gather.”
Pieterse also said that it is pretty easy for a South African to access the dark web and stay hidden: “Provided you know how to get access, one can easily conduct illegal activities.”
A cyber forensics expert and managing director of Cyanre (a computer forensics lab), Danny Myburgh, states the fact that South Africans have become increasingly active on the dark web.
“It’s becoming a bigger threat because more people know about it and it has become the ‘hip thing’ to do,” said Myburgh.
Myburgh has formerly been the head of the cyber crime investigation unit of the SAPS, however, he stated that during that three years, not a single South African was arrested for doing illegal activities on the dark net. He also stated:
“This dark corner of the internet is a playground for people that want to be rebels and deal drugs, child pornography, piracy or human trafficking.”
Symantec Cyber Security has conducted a report about dark web users and South Africa was included in the top three countries, along with Russia and China.
Manuel Corregedor, operations manager of Wolfpack Information Risk has made this statement:
“The necessary structures required to prevent, detect and respond to cyber threats in South Africa are not in place. There are projects under way to address these shortcomings – but not enough progress is being made.”
According to Corregedor, South Africans have increasingly become more aware of their online privacies:
“For example, companies such as Facebook allow access to their services via the Dark Web due to the increased demand.”
“We also receive reports from South Africans who become victims on the Dark Web. One such example was where a woman was being blackmailed by her daughter’s boyfriend, who posted naked pictures of her on the Dark Web along with her address, contact numbers and ID/passport numbers.”
The Department of Justice published the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill to tighten legislation around cyber crime two months ago. The draft bill seeks to introduce a range of new offenses with explicit penalties. According to Corregedor, the bill is a step in the right direction.
“However, it is not a ‘silver bullet’; we still lack the skills to catch cyber criminals,” said Corregedor.