SAN ANTONIO — KENS 5 takes you inside the epicenter of illegal activity. A former FBI agent specializing in cybersecurity explores the dark web to show how criminals exploit people’s information in various marketplaces.

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The dark web is a hidden section of the Internet and can only be accessed through a specialized web browser. Jonathan Trimble, a former FBI agent who’s now the founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Bawn, logged in a browser called ‘The Onion Router’ known as TOR.

“I use a computer that I can get rid of because going onto some of these hacking sites, downloading information, you don’t know what’s going to happen from it. It might be safe, and it might not be,” he said.

Credit: KENS 5

Jonathan Trimble, a former FBI agent who’s now the founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Bawn.

The dark web’s lure is anonymity and lucrative deals. Trimble showed KENS 5 several marketplaces that have grown in popularity over the years. Criminals advertise various products, including drugs, hacking tools, and people’s personal information. Trimble says there are criminals looking to make a quick buck and larger criminal organizations that set up these marketplaces like a business to make a profit. He says the purchases are made in bitcoin, unlike a credit card that can be traced back to a person.

“It ranges from how complete the information is or how sophisticated of an information package it is. An example is an identifying number like a social security number might be about $2 to $3. But if you have a complete package, for example, for a business, an employee identification number, a Dun & Bradstreet number, all the identifying information for a business would be more expensive. Around $70 is what I’ve seen,” said Trimble.

The sites that sell products or packages of information appear like any regular retail website. There’s even a review and recommendations section.

“A user says not good or this product is legitimate and successful for me,” said Trimble. “There’s a high concern of whether they can trust the person they’re buying from or institute that they’re buying from.”

Credit: KENS 5

A marketplace where buyers can leave reviews and recommend a product.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, a research site, the economic cost of cybercrime globally is growing every year and is expected to hit $10.5 trillion by 2025. it says this represents the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history.

Trimble says it’s reasonable to assume that your information has already been compromised or will be in the future.

“Having been an employee of the federal government for 25 years, I assume that my information has been stolen through the different hacks that have been focused on OPM and other places from the government,” he said. “It really comes back to us to make it more difficult for them to take advantage of that. Because if they have the information but can’t set up an account or it’s too difficult for them, they’re going to move onto someone else.”

He recommends that you consistently update digital software, monitor your financial activity, and be wary of what you download or click online. The FBI also has a list of recommendations to reduce your risk.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, has information on general security, email communication, and threats. If you believe you’ve been a victim of an internet crime or want to file on behalf of another person, click here for more information.