Have you always wondered what goes on in the dark web? I understand your curiosity, and I am here to break down all you need to know about the dark. Anything in darkness will be brought to light, literally.
There are a lot of activities that happen on the dark web that include terrorism, drug dealing, hacking forums and services, ransomware, botnets, cryptocurrency services, financing and fraud, pornography, downloading content, darknets markets, assassins, and exclusive social media platforms.
In this article, you will learn all the activities that go on on the dark web, what you shouldn't do in the dark web, whether it is legal or illegal, and how it was invented.
The dark web is content on the World Wide Web that consists of untraceable and hidden files that are not accessed throughout the normal browsers like Chrome but special browsers like Tor. This aids in keeping all the web activities secure and private.
Most of the dark web content is not indexed by search engines (crawling). There are millions of web pages, databases, and servers that are normally indexed by search engines. There are billions of searches that take place on the dark web right now.
To access the dark web, we use the Tor (The Onion Routing Project) browser, enabling users to access the content using virtual network tunnels. It works by sending traffic to different random relays (servers) via the Tor network. It allows the users to surf with confidence without being tracked or spied on by anyone.
There are a lot of activities that are done on the dark web:
The dark web has many drug markets where users can buy illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, cannabis Sativa without being tracked down. The famous drugs marketplace was called Silk Road, which Ross Ulbricht founded. The FBI shut it down, and the founder was arrested and convicted by the police.
There are a lot of darknet markets that exist on the dark web. These markets accept Bitcoin as a method of payment. Some of the popular markets on the web, like Silk Road and Diabolus Market, were closed by legal authorities. Silk market was known for selling weapons and carrying out fraudulent activities.
Even after the closure of these markets, others emerged and rendered the same services. The prices on these markets are relatively low, which is why most users flow to these markets.
Hackers have formed groups either as an individual or a group. They normally attack those people who are attracted to children sexually. They also attack big financial institutions such as banks.
Investigative institutions like the FBI have been trying to track these groups down. They normally use the phishing method to lure people to sign into fake pages and get their sensitive information. Some of the common hacking groups include Mazafaka, Darkside.
Not all hacker groups or hackers are legit. Some are scammers who, after paying them they disappear or send you files that are not valid or match what you bought from them. The government institutions are trying to crack these groups down, but their efforts have remained futile. Learn what to do when your site or system is hacked.
The dark web has free premium content. When users want free content sold somewhere for premium, they head to the dark web, where they part with little cash or get the content for free. Some of this content includes albums, movies, courses, tutorials, books.
The dark web has a lot of Pornography content, especially those of child pornography. The dark web gives people a chance when browsing porn to remain incognito. In 2011 a famous Tor network known as Lolita City was taken down after being found with images and videos of children below 18 years in the UK and US and included both male and female.
It was run by professional photographers, models who ran the Tor Network. Apart from child pornography, these sites also offer torture and killing of animals using sexual activities. In 2021, German police closed the Boystown forum, which had more than 200,000 users.
When someone wants to hire assassins or people who can perform an assassination, they head over to the web to hire them according to the prices, location, and availability. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, hired a hitman to kill people from the web.
The dark web has a lot of terrorist groups that come together due to easier access to materials on Tor Network, lack of stress from regulatory bodies, and anonymity. The group forms chat platforms to teach and even print how-to guidelines that guide the members to become one of them and hide their identity.
With the introduction of Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, transactions are held anonymously between members. A famous terrorist was arrested and charged in 2018 for attempting to buy bombs and hire snipers who will help the Syrian terrorists with funding. Many sites out here on the web promote terrorism, some being fake and others being legit.
Like any other site, the dark web has a social media platform to create posts, connect and design blogs. Many people refer to these platforms due to their ability to keep the data private and with a lot of secrecy.
The dark web is known as a medium for performing ransoms. They use it to encrypt information and websites that prevent users from accessing the sites without paying the ransom stated. Once the user pays the ransom through Bitcoin, the hackers decrypt the files making the site run normally.
The dark web has a lot of marketplaces where they sell firearms. Most of the guns listed are from the US, and they have a lot of buyers who buy hence generating a lot of revenue for them. Most of the firearms listed to come up with rifles. They have gone to an extent where they also sell riffle and firearms design where they teach everything you need to know about marketing and designing a firearm.
Bitcoin is one of the largest cryptocurrencies. Due to most of the users hiding their identity on the dark web, they use Bitcoin as the main cash transfer method. The growth of Bitcoin has led to an increase in cybercrime activities by individuals through cyber attacks.
The dark web has a lot of botnets where users buy command-based servers that increase traffic to websites, YouTube, social media platforms e.t.c. Bots bring this traffic.
The dark web has been one of the tools that have been used in aiding fraudulent activities. Users have come up with scam pages, cloned sites where they use to carry out fraud services. They have come up with a lot of carding sites where they steal and sell credit cards. These carding sites play a big role in money laundering techniques.
Users on this forum steal credit and bank details that they later use to purchase stuff online without the real users knowing. According to cyber security firms, over 80 million credit users' details are stolen and sold online.
The dark web also sells tax fraud documents that help file faulty tax returns to evade paying tax. This tax fraud is enabled by the sale of W2s, which shows they have come from employers. Most details like payment details, credit details, personal information are sold on sites like Paste bin.
Using the dark web is not illegal. Most of the dark web and Tor networks began as small communication tools that offered people freedom and privacy. Most organizations support the use of the dark web. US department of justice has come up with a way to track down drug vendors, weapon sellers, and illegal products on the dark web.
The main reason people use the dark web is:
Anonymity: People like the dark web due to its ability to hide their identity. For example, in countries like the USA, you would be in danger when caught divulging in activities like child pornography, riffle selling e.t.c. Other browsers like Chrome have been invading the users' privacy in recent reports, making people use the Tor browser as an alternative.
Accessing Secret Services: Secret services include reporting bad acts to the public without revealing the real you.
Illegal activities: It is easier to carry out illegal activities like selling drugs, weapons, fraud without being traced or arrested. Some materials are not accessible in the public domain
There are a variety of things we have to avoid when surfing on the dark web. Some many threats and vulnerabilities come with surfing on the dark web. There are several precautions you can do to prevent all these:
Avoid downloading torrents on the dark web. Using Tor for downloading torrents on the dark web is harmful as it breaks your anonymity by exposing your IP address to your peers. It makes you vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The peers can target you and send you malware and might land you in trouble.
When searching the web using the Google search engine, When surfing the dark web, avoid using the Google search engine as the default search engine. Google doesn't respect users' privacy that may lead to IP tracking. When surfing the dark web, stick on using the default search engine, DuckDuckGo, known for its privacy.
Never Share Your actual email. When surfing the dark web, avoid using your actual email; instead, look for sites where you can generate fake emails like SaneBox and use that email for registrations.
Avoid Clicking Malicious Links. When visiting the dark web, avoid clicking malicious links. Clicking any link has a lot of security troubles.
It can cause a threat to your personal information and files when you click on any link. To avoid bad scenarios, consider installing antivirus on your machine and going through the links carefully before clicking on them.
Avoid making payments on the dark web. When surfing, avoid making payments, specifically when using credit cards and Paypal. When you use credit cards, your credit details may be harvested and sold online or used to purchase things online. Another disadvantage is that you may end up paying for goods that don't exist. If you are to buy anything from the dark web, Bitcoin is recommended.
The dark web was started in the late 1960s by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), part of the USA Defense department. But the dark web started thriving a few years later. In the 1970s, ARPANET, which was under APA, facilitated the first online illegal transaction.
In 1983, the internet was released, and was now used by everyone; the main issue raised here was how the data would be stored, concern about privacy, and how to share the data. In 1991, the internet became publicly available to everyone and led to the first illegal music streaming site through Napster.
In 2000, Freenet was released, which saw the free transfer of files, publishing the site, and browsing the internet.
In 2002 Tor was released, which played a significant role in forming the dark web. The Tor network created a network that enables people to surf anonymously, which opened a big door to the growth of the dark web.
Tor was designed to minimize government tracking and surveillance. It enabled people to publish what they want whether it was to criticize the government as nobody would know who they were. It led to the growth of the community and followers of the dark web. Using Tor was free, and it was open source. After Tor was fully developed collection of websites started to emerge.
In 2009, Bitcoin was released. Bitcoin was a form of cryptocurrency, and it replaced other payment methods like PayPal and credit cards which left-back details and could lead to easier tracking. Bitcoin removed all these and improved the secrecy, and people could freely transact without having any privacy issues as no one would trace the payment. It saw the growth of large forums like Silk Road, Playpen, and Snow Den.
Silk Road was used to sell drugs while Snow Den used the dark web for whistle-blowing, and Playpen was used to sell children pornography. After the successful release of Tor and Bitcoin, this saw the crackdown of several individuals behind several dark web forums like the famous Silk Road forum, Dream Market, Playpen, etc. Most of them were seized and shut down, and that's how the dark web grew and emerged.
Many cyber security firms work with these organizations to monitor the dark web and share their findings with institutions like the FBI.
Some researchers, journalists, educators are coming out in large numbers and educating the mass about the importance and disadvantages of the dark web. They are preaching on how to use the freedom to better themselves rather than focusing on the dark side of the dark web. There are many good things the dark web can offer from research rather than the illegal stuff that the dark web is commonly known for.
The dark web has a lot of helpful content; however, users should be careful about the sites they visit. There are higher chances of coming across illegal content; hence remain vigilant and wise when visiting these sites. Therefore, when you are a new user, you are very careful and will enjoy the benefits of the dark web.
Some have been saying that the dark web encourages freedom, privacy, and anonymity but what does the future hold on these. Many government institutions are forming teams that will spy and fight illegal forums on the dark web that view it as a source of criminal activity. It has led to the introduction of training programs that will help curb all these activities.