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The FBI’s lack of ability to deal with dark web crimes, the US Department of Justice requires the development of a dark web governance strategy


The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently released an audit report recommending that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should develop a “formal bureau-level darknet governance strategy” to address its own lack of ability to respond to illegal activities on the darknet question.

The Office of the Inspector General concluded that the current FBI’s various units involved in darknet investigations go their separate ways, resulting in inefficiencies, overlapping mandates, and misallocation of resources.

After completing the relevant audits, the Office of the Inspector General made five recommendations, emphasizing that it should clarify “investigation responsibilities among departments, develop and acquire investigative tools in a more efficient and cost-effective manner, and provide strong safeguards at the transition of personnel tenure. Continuity of strategy, while establishing guidelines for benchmarking data collection to better quantify darknet findings.”

01 Insufficient investigation ability

The revised audit report underscores the urgency of the proposal, noting that darknet markets are currently rife with the trade and distribution of malware, data breach records, drugs, guns and child sexual abuse material. The current FBI is simply unable to conduct effective follow-up investigations on related cases.

The OIG found that the problem of isolation between law enforcement units within the FBI is “widespread” or even poorly documented, and that the “most comprehensive” approach to date comes from the High-Tech Organised Crime Division’s strategy for opioid trafficking.

In addition, the “overlapping positioning” of high-tech organized crime units and major cybercrime units could lead to “redundancy, inefficiencies, or conflicts in terms of investigative mission content, skills, capabilities, tools, and resources.”

The OIG also mentioned that budget cuts have also hindered the ability of the Remote Operations Section to develop and acquire investigative tools. Currently, only tools “for use in national security investigations” are on the department’s high-priority list, resulting in a “lack of institutional basis” for aggregating darknet investigative tools.

02 Anti-conflict system

FBI officials are currently unable to document the data collected during the investigation, which could lead to inefficiencies and even lead other government operations to mistake normal dark web visitors for criminals, the report said.

Only 47 percent of the data entries tested by the OIG were correctly counted in the Justice Department’s investigative anti-conflict system. The data can be used by law enforcement agencies to “ensure the safety of agents, safeguard the integrity of ongoing investigations, and identify targets of shared investigative interest.”

As for the cryptocurrency support strategy currently being evaluated by the FBI, the OIG sees a need to “align it with the broader strategy” to help the FBI’s two lower cryptocurrency-focused teams more accurately prioritize resources.

Finally, the report calls for the FBI to adopt a more unified strategy to address the serious “fragmentation and fragmentation” that exists in current darknet investigation training materials. In fact, some officials had never even heard of this part of the material.

03 Sharp increase in darknet transactions

In addition, developing a more unified strategy will also help the FBI restore its original operational capabilities and deter emerging threats as soon as possible in the context of the challenges posed by the new crown epidemic to routine operations.

In a research report released in May this year, cybersecurity firm Trustwave found that social distancing and government service disruptions triggered by the pandemic were seen by many visa traffickers and money launderers as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Suppliers trapped in changing ways are forced to adjust their business models.

In addition, many fraudsters also took the opportunity to promote fake COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments, and launched phishing campaigns on hot topics such as mass vacation cancellations, flight closures, and housing rental compensation policies.

Ziv Mador, head of SpiderLabs, Trustwave’s global security research team, said in an interview at the time, “Today, with the rapid expansion of the number of Internet users, the transaction of credit card information through the dark web has also increased dramatically.”