What is the Dark Web?
It may not be October anymore, but for some, just the mention of the Dark Web can send shivers down people’s spines. Often times when we think of the dark web we think of illegal operations, shady dealings, trafficking, and the like. But what does it actually mean? And what actually goes on in this dark section of the World Wide Web?
Let’s dive in.
What is ‘the dark web’?
Think of the internet as an iceberg. On the surface, you have search engines, social media websites, email, etc.. Below the surface is what’s considered ’The Dark Web’.
Only 4% of the World Wide Web is indexed through search engines. That means that that other 96% exists on the Dark Web.
The dark web (also known as the invisible web) refers to the portion of content that exists on the World Wide Web that is only accessible on ‘darknets’ that require specific configurations and authorizations to access. Dark Web site pages can’t be found through your traditional internet browser or indexed through search engines such as Google or Bing. Oftentimes, you need specific specialized software to gain access.
The point of all this veiling is to provide privacy and anonymity for those who use it, keeping personal information like IP and locations confidential.
The invisible web and the anonymity it affords makes it a hotbed for illegal activity:
When data breaches happen, that stolen data is sold on the invisible web. Cybercriminal can use the built in privacy features on the invisible web to buy and sell your information and use it against you in future scams.
Ransomware as a Service and Phishing-as-a-Service have appeared more recently on the invisible web. These solutions offer pre-made kits designed to make any newbie scammer initiate ransomware like a veteran.
Because of the anonymity on the Dark Web, illegal sales— whether illicit drugs, arms, or other— thrive on the Dark Web. In fact, some estimate that the Dark Web sees between $300,000 and $500,000 worth of transactions daily.
The Dark Web can be a dangerous place where many illegal dealings take place. The best ways to keep your information safe is by staying alert online. Don’t fall for email scams, don’t save information on sketchy websites, and be vigilant with VPN use and password security.
While there is a whole lot of bad on The Dark Web, there are pockets of light.
Because the invisible web shields individuals from being identified online, it can often be a place of respite and free speech. This is partially true for internet users in counties where speech and internet usage are heavily monitored and the concept of ‘free speech’ isn’t commonplace. The Dark Net can serve as a place for users to go to vent frustrations, gain information, and, if necessary, find help.
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