Welcome to the dark side of the Internet. We have often been asked about the Dark web, some individuals use it to trade bitcoin. So we decided to write this article.
I personally would not recommend using the dark web for any reason. This article is for information purposes so you can stay safe while achieving your goals. Parts may seem a little complicated. But knowledge is power.
For good or for bad. Here is what you need to know about The Dark Web .
So what exactly is the Deep Web and the Dark Web?
Sometimes the term Dark Web and the Deep Web are used interchangeably.
So let’s expand a little. The Deep Web is a term that specifically refers to a collection of encrypted websites. These websites would not be found by searching the traditional search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
The dark web is a subsection of this (the deep web).
It is estimated that up to 25,000 of these sites are in existence today. These websites are not indexed by the search engine giants. Meaning that you’ll need to know the exact site address (URL) to access it along with the use of specific software packages the most common being TOR which stands for The Onion Router (more on this below).
What is TOR?
Tor was originally developed in the 1990s to be used by the US Navy for protecting classified government communications.
Today, however, it is used by a wide variety of people and for a wide variety of things!
Mostly commonly journalists, activists, hackers, law enforcement agencies to name but a few.
High profile individuals such as Edward Snowden have used it as a whistleblowing platform.
To quote Mr.Snowden
Tor is used for bypassing censorship in countries that deploy techniques to restrict internet usage.
Most will have heard of the very widely publicized Ashley Madison dating website hack where over 10GB’s of data was stolen and dumped on the Dark web.
Why use TOR at all?
So what does TOR do you might ask?
The answer is to help provide anonymity. Websites on the Dark web deploy the TOR encryption software suite.
The regular Joe, for example, wants to connect to his favourite website, he/she enters the URL in the address bar. After this, the “www” request will flow from his PC to the intended website. The request hits a few ‘nodes’ along the way. But the request for the website is relatively straight forward. It is also easy to track even if he thinks deleting the internet cache is going to help!
What the TOR network does is route traffic through several intermediary nodes in multiple locations across the globe that are within the TOR network.
The IP (Internet Protocol) address assigned to you by the ISP (Internet Service Provider) is spoofed (A situation in which one person or program successfully masquerades as another by falsifying data, thereby gaining an illegitimate advantage) and bounced through these nodes.
Connections are made using the TOR browser developed by the TOR project. Dark websites do not look like regular URL’s that you are familiar with. Instead, they’re composed of very random strings of mixed characters.
The website URL address is followed by “.onion”. The network has several wiki pages that act as indexes that tend to be categorised into subsections depending on what you are looking for.
Using the service does have an impact in terms of speed, connecting to the multiple nodes takes time, but this is the sacrificeto pay for anonymity.
For even more increased security many users also connect to a VPN service provider before connecting to the TOR network and always using the HTTPS protocol as the last node on the request can see the information that can identify you.
The Dark Web – Used for Good
The use of anonymity can be of great advantage to internet users.
Journalists are offered privacy and safety. They can be allowed to offer opposing viewpoints and encourage government change. Law enforcement can carry out surveillance and undercover investigations disguising their true IP addresses which could raise flags.
Whistle-blowers can expose wrongdoings in public interest. Even regular internet users like you and I can protect ourselves against identity theft, snooping cooperation’s and even protect our kids online.
If you live in a country that blocks Facebook, Twitter or YouTube it can be used to circumvent this.
But with the good comes the bad, unfortunately, this great network providing anonymity to the public is being used and abused on a large scale.
The Dark Web –The Evil Uses
This anonymity that we have discussed is, however, unfortunately, being abused on a large scale.
It is gaining a reputation as a hotbed for highly illegal activities with cyber criminals making their fortunes selling everything from drugs, guns, and credit cards to blueprints for instructions on how to make a 3D printed gun.
Even scarier is a recent report that has indicated that the majority of those accessing the dark web are in search of child abuse imagery.
Steps are being made to shut down these illegal and dangerous websites most recently two of the largest websites on the dark web AlphaBay and Hansa were taken offline by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration along with agencies acting through Europol.
“AlphaBay and Hansa were associated with the trade of illegal goods such as drugs, guns, personal data stolen in hacks, and computer viruses. There were more than 40,000 sellers on AlphaBay who were advertising around 250,000 items of illegal drugs and chemicals, according to Europol.”Telegraph UK
In a statement by the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, he warned cybercriminals that you cannot hide and you are not as safe as you might think. “The darknet is not a place to hide. We will find you.”