The head of the UN’s Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, has expressed concerns over the potential availability of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) on the dark web.
According to Nakamitsu, the deluge of weapons and technology that is available for purchase or hire on various dark web markets makes it a lot easier for terrorists and other non-state actors to get their hands on dangerous WMDs.
A well-visited criminal hotspot, the dark web is known for its underground marketplaces where illegal goods—both digital and physical—are bought and sold using cryptocurrency.
While the majority of dark web markets, sites and forums generally have low entry barriers, a few require a more exclusive, invite-only membership to gain access to.
Nakamitsu’s chief concern is the threat terrorists could pose to global security now that they’re able to source WMDs from dark web markets.
Drones and 3D Printers on the Spot
The UN’s chief of disarmament also touched on a number of dual-use items and technologies, specifically how difficult they are to regulate without restricting their legitimate use.
On top of that list were drones and 3D printers—devices that are readily available even outside of dark web markets.
There’s proof that drones can be weaponized, since a number of militaries depend on their versatility to hit targets that cannot be accessed by ground forces.
In the wrong hands, drones can be used to covertly transport weapons or parts from one location to another, making it difficult to intercept and stop terrorist attacks in time.
3D printing, on the other hand, is a technology that is far too expedient in the modern world to simply restrict its usage. However, 3D printing can be a dangerous tool in the hands of terrorists and other actors of malice on the dark web.
Videos of how 3D printers can be used to create weapons, such as plastic knives and even guns, are readily available on the internet.
According to Nakamitsu, the availability of these dual-use items on platforms outside of dark web sites makes it harder to keep WMDs from falling into the wrong hands.
A good number of technological tools that can be manipulated for evil have several legitimate applications in both commercial and private sectors.
Achieving a sort of equilibrium between security and commercial continuity is difficult, but it is the only way to prevent the proliferation of these dangerous devices.
Technology Makes It Easier to Access WMDs
The UN faces a serious dilemma when it comes to limiting the technology relied on by terrorists to obtain weapons from the dark web.
This is chiefly because these dual-use technologies are used to create, source and transport weapons and parts from dark web marketplaces.
Terrorists have an easier time accessing highly sensitive materials because of the kind of technology at their disposal.
Two mustard gas attacks on civilians in Syria by the Islamic State attest to the severe risks posed by the availability of WMDs to terrorists and other malicious actors.
According to Joseph Ballard, an official of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the two attacks confirmed the chilling reality that chemical weapons have begun falling into the wrong hands, causing devastation of an unprecedented scale.
Ballard says the OPCW is currently involved enhancing the security associated with dual-use technologies and materials around the globe.
In addition to closely working with and monitoring the global chemical industry to tighten the security of sensitive chemicals, the organization will also be working with customs offices from around the world to regulate the global supply of such dual-use technologies and materials.
Although far from being an outright solution to the growing availability of illegal goods on the dark web, the OPCW may be able to throttle the accessibility of dual-use technologies that could make it easier for terrorists to get access to more WMDs in the near future.
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