12.06.2020

Hey stranger, we know you

That widespread view that Darknet interactions
are entirely anonymous is not true. Experts from Social Links have studied statistics and found out that one can quickly locate email addresses for half of the registered PGP keys and then go on to search for real individuals behind them if these emails were registered in public domain space.

PGP key is a unique identifier of an individual on the DarkNet. One can change
their nicknames on various forums and marketplaces but changing a PGP key is like changing your mobile phone number in real life - your usual communication will get extremely difficult if you do that. So, it is possible but everyone tries to avoid doing that. Many investigations, including those that are conducted by law enforcement agencies, are aimed to identify the link between PGP key and a real person. This helps to formally identify the perpetrators, including those who are involved in drug trafficking
and the sale of products prohibited by law.
The database of Social Links contains 6,524 unique PGP keys. They were generated under 6,201 unique email addresses. Where have those been registered? This question is at the very core because if an email address has been created in free public domain space, then it is definitely impossible to link it to a certain individual from the real world. However, if the address is linked to a social network profile, then this is already enough for some firm conclusions which can later be checked and confirmed during further research. Email address is the key to user identification on the DarkNet.
So, here is the most successful case: a PGP key and a Facebook account are registered using one and the same email address. There are around 10% of such cases, 542
to be precise. The same kind of match is less common on Twitter – 170 cases. But
as for Skype, the situation is much better there – 676 cases. Flickr, MyMail, MySpace, Tumblr, Weibo give another 1,400 hits. Overall, through all sources it is possible
to establish links between a PGP key, an email address and an account in social networks in 50 per cent of the cases.
You can do the search manually but this requires a lot of time and effort. The same result can be achievedautomatically in a matter of seconds. The Social Links service allows its users to conduct these and other similar searches quickly and accurately, saving time and energy of the experts in the end.
Investigations by law enforcement authorities often require checking multiple PGP keys for any clues, any links between key registration data and real people. Whereas
with Social Links, you can upload the entire list of keys into special software and see
all the related networks and links there. This will not be applicable to every single key. But even if it works for half of them, just have a go yourself and see how it can speed up things. (link to request details)
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