Po­lice to beef up probe into ‘dark web’

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Kim Rahn rah­[email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Po­lice will in­ten­sify their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the “dark web,” an en­crypted net­work in­ac­ces­si­ble through tra­di­tional search en­gines, as dark web sites have be­come a hot­bed of crimes such as child porn dis­tri­bu­tion and il­le­gal drug trad­ing.

The Korean Na­tional Po­lice Agency (KNPA) said Sun­day cy­ber­crime units of all re­gional po­lice agen­cies across the coun­try will deal with dark web-re­lated crimes, a great in­crease from the six-mem­ber team within the agency that has been han­dling cases so far.

Other teams at the agency will also sup­port in­ves­ti­ga­tions into dark web sites, and the po­lice will ad­di­tion­ally seek co­op­er­a­tion with its over­seas coun­ter­parts.

“We’ll as­sign as many of­fi­cers as pos­si­ble to thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gate il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties tak­ing place on the dark web, such as child porn dis­tri­bu­tion, il­licit trad­ing of drugs and firearms, cy­ber-mer­ce­nar­ies and trad­ing of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion,” a po­lice of­fi­cial said. “Not only the op­er­a­tors of such dark web sites, but also those us­ing them, are sub­ject to pun­ish­ment.”

The po­lice will es­pe­cially look into child porn, fol­low­ing the re­cent ar­rest of 338 peo­ple from 32 coun­tries, in­clud­ing 223 Kore­ans, for us­ing a Korea-based dark web site stor­ing 250,000 child pornog­ra­phy videos.

The op­er­a­tor of the site, a Korean man named Son Jong­woo, 23, is in prison after be­ing sen­tenced to 18 months in jail by a lo­cal court here.

The dark web is in­ac­ces­si­ble through or­di­nary search en­gines such as Naver or Google, and ac­cess of­ten re­quires spe­cial soft­ware or au­tho­riza­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice es­ti­ma­tion, fewer than 10,000 Kore­ans vis­ited dark web sites per day early this year, but the num­ber hiked to around 20,000 in early Au­gust. It has de­creased again since Septem­ber to a level of about 13,000 a day, along with the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into some of the sites.

“Peo­ple be­lieve the dark web is a safe zone and those par­tic­i­pat­ing in il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties there are not caught. But we’ll con­duct thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tions so they will learn such per­cep­tions are wrong,” the of­fi­cial said.

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