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What happens on Dark Web, doesn’t stay on Dark Web

What happens on Dark Web, doesn't stay on Dark Web 1
It might sound scary, but the ‘dark web’ is not much different from the rest of the internet. Willequet Manuel/Shutterstock.com

With the prevalence of computers, a lot of us have heard the term “Dark Web”, and think of it as some sort of deep dark hellhole where the scum of the internet live, breathe, subsist and die.

That picture or fear of such a scenario is not unfounded, as you would see a plethora of news articles reporting pilferage of child porn and paedophilia, prostitution, illegal drugs sold freely like good being sold on Amazon, and even assassins that could be hired to kill to name a few of the ills that tread on the Dark Web.

Hiring an assassin would seem like a big deal for normal folks, but the hitmen on Dark Web even advertise their services and claim that they will make it look like an accident or suicide.

Just like Google once changed our lives (for good or bad, one can argue), Dark Web, though not a corporation, is poised to change our lives but definitely not for good, however, not many know what it is and how it is impacting their lives.

Many imagine Dark Web to be one website that you can type in your browser, among many others. But unfortunately, it’s more than that.

What is Dark Web?

Dark Web, sometimes also known as darknet or black web, is a collection of websites or resources that can only be accessed using specific software and authorization to access it.

Often Dark Web is confused with Deep Web, however, Dark Web is a small portion of Deep Web.

Surface Web vs Deep Web
Over 95% of the internet is on deep web, with only 5% indexed by search engines.

In simple terms, Deep Web is any website or web resource that is not indexed by a search engine like Google or Bing. It could include webmails (like Gmail, Hotmail or YahooMail), online access controlled websites (like banking website, etc.) or services that you must pay to access (e.g. NetFlix, etc.).

While Deep Web are hidden services built on top of encrypted and hidden networks that requires specific software like Tor, to access those services.

What is so dark about Dark Web?

The most important attribute of the dark web is anonymity, unlike the normal web that we love and know, the dark web is hidden behind encryption and obfuscation.

Which mean, someone can create a marketplace for sex slaves, and these are not offered somewhere in Africa, a recent case emerged in UK where a British Model was kidnapped and put on sale as sex slave on dark web.

But these are big cases which sometimes are solved, there is almost nothing you can do about the people who are selling and buying credit cards, drugs, human body parts and organs, illegal weapons, among other things. But that is where the threat starts.

Silk Road
Marketplaces like Silk Road are contantly being seized by authorities in a bid to curb illegal activities

Make no mistake, dark web is a full fledged ecosystem with markets, currencies and trade just like in real world, which is not just used for nefarious purposes.

Take the example of Japanese drug dealers who provide services like they’re selling flour and not cocaine, including buyer refunds.

Great anonymity brings greater threats

Dark web is anonymous, people can create exclusive private chatrooms that no one except the people in it knows exists and websites that nobody can access except the people who know the URL and access codes.

Enter, the terrorists!

ISIS Logo
ISIS and other terrorist organisations routinely use dark web to communicate and organise

Law enforcement already knows that dark web is used by terrorist organisations to communicate. The terrorists also buy credit cards on the dark web to evade detection by law enforcement agencies and also buy other illegal items including conventional weapons, biological weapons, etc.

Terrorists also use the dark web to launder money in form of cryptocurrency, to co-ordinate their actions across continents.

This allows them to evade authorities who would normally track and block such transactions in the real world, however, in the dark web, the terrorists have a safe haven.

A study found over 800 weapons listed on 24 different darknet website, including ebooks on how to manufacture explosives and bombs for as low as $2.

In a recent case in the UK, the authorities identified several sites on the dark web that explained how to make Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP), a high explosive, which can be manufactured from household chemicals.

The terrorists also use the dark web as a recruitement device, creating forums and encouraging lone-wolf attacks, of which several cases have been seen recently in Europe.

But anonymity also helps truth get out through the brighter side of the dark web.

As with any tool that, the dark web can be used for positive or negative purposes. On one end it aids criminals to evade detection, but the same tools can be used to bring out the truth and dissenting voices that government and agencies try to silence.

PRISM Logo
The PRISM Surveillance program was leaked over WikiLeaks, which is hosted on darkweb

Places like China where the government tries to control the internet to their purposes. The dark web provides an outlet for dissenting voices to be heard outside and educate the world to their plights.

Similarly, dissenting voices like WikiLeaks are built on dark web and help whitleblowers bring out illegal activities like PRISM without the fear or repurcussions.

In the end it comes down to a simple principle, just like real world, people will find both good and evil uses of any technology, and the benefits that dark web offers in terms of protecting people’s identities may be does not outweight the evils, but make it worth having.

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