'Dark web' targeted in crime crackdown

Criminals are emboldened by the anonymity of the dark web, which has become a platform for horrific abuse, the Home Secretary will say today.

New funding to crack down on the ‘dangerous’ dark web will be launched by Amber Rudd in a speech at the Government’s flagship event for cybersecurity.

The National Cyber Security Centre’s CYBERUK conference in Manchester will be the backdrop for the launch of a £9m fund to increase cyber capabilities and tackle organised crime online, focusing on those who use anonymous and hidden online services for illegal activities such as hacking, people trafficking, selling weapons and drug dealing.

Image: Amber Rudd will be speaking at the CyberUK conference in Manchester

The Home Secretary is expected to address the threat of the dark web, calling it a “dangerous place where anonymity emboldens people to break the law in the most horrifying of ways”.

She will add that it is “a platform of dangerous crimes and horrific abuse”.

Earlier this year, prolific paedophile Matthew Falder was convicted of 137 offences committed on the dark web, including encouraging rape, sexually exploiting children, blackmail and voyeurism.

Photo issued by the National Crime Agency of a still taken from surveillance footage of Matthew Falder on a train
Image: Photo issued by the National Crime Agency of a still taken from surveillance footage of Matthew Falder on a train

This conviction was part of a four-year investigation by the National Crime Agency’s specialist cyber teams alongside security and intelligence agencies.

Ms Rudd will say: “The world of cyber is fast-developing and we need a fast-developing response to match. One that recognises that it is the responsibility of everyone in the UK to fight the evolving threat.

“Whilst criminals plot and hide behind their screens, their actions have real-life consequences for their victims.”

More than £5m will be used to support the police to establish dedicated cyber crime units in every police force.

Currently, only 30% of police forces have the minimum capability to pursue cyber crime.

Forty specialist regional cyber “protect” officers provide a link between local and national authorities across the UK, delivering security advice to people and businesses based on the latest National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) threat analysis.

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On Tuesday, the NCSC and the National Crime Agency (NCA) reported that British businesses are suffering more cyber attacks than ever before with criminals having access to “nation-state grade capabilities”.

The funding announcement is part of £50m of newly allocated money from the National Cyber Security Programme and existing Home Office budgets. It will also be used to develop a “cyber app” for Metropolitan Police officers for improved advice and victim care.

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