artistic illustration of the dark web
Image 1: Artistic illustration of the Dark Web

The Internet has brought us together in ways we could never have imagined. Internet is the virtual place where people from all around the world may gather. However, there’s a lot of stuff on the Internet that most people aren’t aware of; whether you’re looking for something, whether it’s a service or a product that’s legal or illegal, immoral or unethical, the Internet has it; you can use it for good or bad, just like the surface web that we all use every day.

It’s a Hidden Corner of The Internet which is full of websites, forums, and services that we can use, but it’s hidden beneath a layer of protection beneath the surface lies the nest of dark and hidden activities that are blocked off from the rest of the world and that can only be accessed with a specialized web browser. It is used to keep internet activity private and anonymous, which can be useful in both legal and unlawful situations. Some people use it to get around free expression, while it has also been used for very illicit activities. The dark web is a haven for illegal online activity and it goes much deeper than you might imagine. It’s a place where criminals, predators, spies, drug dealers, and even human traffickers hide, and it’s all hidden in plain sight.

What is the Dark Web?

The dark web, also known as darknet websites, is the hidden corner of the Internet that can only be accessed through dark internet networks like Tor (“The Onion Routing” project). The Tor browser and Tor-accessible sites are popular among darknet users, and the name “.onion” is used to identify them. Tor browsers provide users with encrypted entry points and pathways to the dark web, allowing them to remain anonymous in their searches and actions. Due to the layered encryption mechanism, darknet users’ identities and locations remain private and cannot be monitored. Users’ data is channeled through a large number of intermediate servers using darknet encryption technology, which conceals users’ identities and ensures anonymity.

Difference Between Surface Web, Deep Web, and Dark Web

Many people just utilize the Surface Web, which is info that can be viewed using standard browsers and search engines, everything that you use daily like Google, YouTube, Twitter, and any other social media is part of what we call the world wide web. It’s relatively easy to find anything on the surface web as almost everything is indexed by search engines. The surface web is massive and in terms of pure traffic almost everything you do can be found here, you could look up anyone and find any kind of information about them and their life.

Now things like bank account details or medical records these things are hidden under password-protected websites where only they can access them this is where we enter into the Deep Web, which refers to the content on the internet that is not indexed by search engines means you can’t find these details on Google, it’s technically on the Deep Web if you’ve ever logged into your email account you’ve browsed the Deep Web. The Deep Web is not as cool as it sounds it’s pretty much just as ordinary as the surface web but with just a bit more secrecy it is the most massive part of the Internet, containing 96% of information on the Internet. However, the Deep Web, which is made up of areas of the web that are not indexed means not searchable by search engines, is frequently mistaken with the Dark web.

The Rise of Dark Web

The phrase “dark web” originally appeared in 2009, although it is still unclear actually when the dark web first appeared. The Dark Web is a subset of the deep web, and accessing its material necessitates the use of special software. This riddle has existed since at least 2009. Despite advice that they are separated, the two names have been frequently muddled since then, particularly in reportage on Silk Road.

The dark web, sometimes known as darknet websites, is only accessible through networks designed particularly for the dark web, such as Tor (“The Onion Routing” project). The Tor browser and Tor-accessible sites are popular among darknet users, and the name “.onion” is used to identify them. Tor browsers provide users with encrypted entry points and pathways to the dark web, allowing them to remain anonymous in their searches and actions.

Due to the layered encryption mechanism, darknet users’ identities and locations remain anonymous and cannot be monitored. Users’ data is routed through a large number of intermediate servers using darknet encryption technology, which conceals users’ identities and ensures anonymity. Only a following node in the scheme, which leads to the exit node, may decode the transferred data.

The sophisticated mechanism makes reproducing the node path and decrypt the information layer by layer nearly impossible. Websites are unable to trace the geolocation and IP addresses of their users because of the high level of encryption, and users are unable to obtain this information about the host. As a result, darknet users’ communication is fully encrypted, allowing them to privately converse, blog, get information, and share files.

Advertisement, continue reading

The Dark Web’s Applications

Dark Web Applications means the use of the dark web for products, services, and content. For example, Child pornography was the most often hosted type of content on Tor, followed by illegal marketplaces, according to a December 2014 analysis by Gareth Owen of the University of Portsmouth, while the individual sites with the most traffic were dedicated to botnet operations.

Many whistleblowing websites, as well as political debate forums, have a presence. Some of the most popular websites include those relating to Bitcoin, fraud-related services, and mail order services. The number of active Tor sites in .onion was expected to be 76,300 as of December 2020 but only 18,000 of them would contain original content. One of the three founders of the Tor Project, Roger Dingledine, stated in July 2017 that Facebook is the largest hidden service. The Tor network’s dark web traffic accounts for barely 3% of all traffic.

The following is a breakdown of material by an alternative category set from a February 2016 investigation by researchers at King’s College London, demonstrating the unlawful use of .onion services:

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency services

Due to its versatility and relative anonymity, Bitcoin is one of the most commonly utilized coins in dark web marketplaces. People can hide their objectives as well as their identities with Bitcoin. One popular method will be to use a digital currency exchanger service that can convert Bitcoin into an online game currency, which will then turn back into fiat currency.

Tumblers and other bitcoin services are frequently available on Tor, including darknet market integration. New trends in the use of Bitcoin tumblers for money laundering were highlighted in a study conducted by Jean-Loup Richet, a research fellow at ESSEC, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Bitcoin has become a popular product for people to swindle companies with due to its relevance in the digital realm. Since the debut of Bitcoins in 2014, cybercriminal groups such as DDOS”4″ have been responsible for over 140 cyberattacks on businesses. Other cybercriminal organizations, such as Cyber Extortion, have sprung up as a result of these attacks.

Illegal Adult Content

Illegal pornography more specifically child pornography is the most popular sort of content on the dark web. Although child pornography is difficult to uncover even on the dark web, it accounts for about 80% of its online traffic. Lolita City, a website that has since been taken down, had over 100 GB of child pornographic media and over 15,000 subscribers.

Regular law enforcement action is taken against sites that distribute child pornography, which is frequently accomplished by hacking the site and tracking visitors’ IP addresses. The FBI investigated and shut down a website named Playpen in 2015. With over 200,000 subscribers, Playpen was the largest child pornography website on the dark web at that time. These sites use Complex systems of manuals, forums, and community regulation.

Other content includes sexualized animal cruelty and murder, as well as revenge pornography. In May 2021, German authorities announced the dismantling of Boystown, one of the world’s largest child pornography networks on the dark web, which had over 400,000 registered users. According to Europol, in raids, four persons were seized, including a Paraguayan, on suspicion of controlling the network. Several pedophile chat sites were also shut down as part of the German-led intelligence operation.

Advertisement, continue reading

Terrorism

Terrorist organizations began using the internet in the 1990s, but the birth of the dark web drew them in because of its anonymity, lack of control, social interaction, and ease of access. These organizations have been using chat platforms on the dark web to incite terrorist attacks. Groups have even issued “How To” manuals on how to become a terrorist and mask their identity.

The dark web evolved to become a platform for terrorist propaganda, guidance, and, most significantly, finance. With the launch of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, anonymous transactions were possible, allowing for anonymous donations and funding. Terrorists were now able to purchase weapons by accepting Bitcoin as payment. In 2018, a man called Ahmed Sarsur was accused of attempting to use the dark web to buy explosives and employ snipers to aid Syrian terrorists, as well as providing them with financial support.

At least some legitimate and phony websites purporting to be utilized by ISIL (ISIS), including one confiscated in Operation Onymous. With the advancement of technology, cyber terrorists have been able to thrive by exploiting technological flaws. Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, an actual such site was hacked by GhostSec, an Anonymous-affiliated hacker organization, and replaced with a Prozac advertisement. At one point, the Rawti Shax Islamist group was discovered functioning on the dark web.

Social Media

The Dark Web Social Network(DWSN) is a collection of growing dark web social media platforms that are comparable to those found on the World Wide Web. The DWSN functions similarly to a traditional social networking site, with members being able to customize their sites, add friends, like postings, and participate in forums. Facebook and other standard social media companies have begun to develop dark-web versions of their websites to address issues with traditional platforms and continue to provide service across the Internet. Unlike Facebook, the DWSN’s privacy policy compels participants to stay anonymous and not share any personal information.

Unverified content and hoaxes

Rumors of Crowdfunded Murders and hitmen for Hire are high on the Dark Web, but these are all thought to be scams. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht for his site and reportedly employed a hitman to kill six people, however, the charges were later dismissed. Ross Ulbricht believed he was doing the world service rather than the violence that can result from the trading and dealing of illegal drugs Silk Road provided a safer more genuine experience that brought an opportunity to the masses and protected people as opposed to putting them at risk. Despite this his apparent peaceful and non-harming nature, he used hitmen services on the dark web in an attempt to have six different people killed it all depends on how you view it and how open you are to interpretations.

On the dark web, there is an urban tale that one may find live murder. The phrase “Red Room” was coined about a Japanese anime and urban legend of the same name; however, all reported incidents appear to be hoaxes. YouTuber Obscure Horror Corner reviewed the indie game Sad Satan on June 25, 2015, which they claimed to have uncovered on the dark web. Several contradictions in the channel’s broadcast threw doubt on the version of events that were reported. For threat intelligence, various websites examine and monitor the deep web and dark web.

Hacking groups and services

Many hackers make money by selling their services alone or in groups. xDedic, hack forum, Trojanforge, Mazafaka, dark0de, and the TheRealDeal darknet market are examples of such organizations. Some have been accused of tracking down and extorting alleged pedophiles. On the dark web, cybercrime and hacking services for financial organizations and banks are also available.

Various government and private organizations have attempted to monitor this behavior, and an evaluation of the tools employed can be found in the Procedia Computer Science publication. The dark web has also been used to launch Internet-scale DNS distributed reflection denial of service (DRDoS) assaults. Many .onion scam sites offer tools for download that are tainted with trojan horses or backdoors.

Financing and fraud

According to Scott Dueweke, president and founder of Zebryx Consulting, Russian electronic currencies like WebMoney and Perfect Money are at blame for the majority of unlawful activities. Flashpoint acquired a $5 million investment in April 2015 to assist its clients in gathering intelligence from the deep and black web. Carding forums, PayPal and Bitcoin trading websites, as well as fraud and counterfeiting businesses, are all available. Many of these sites are also scams. Phishing through cloned websites and other scam sites is common, and darknet markets are frequently marketed with bogus URLs.

Advertisement, continue reading

Darknet markets of the dark web

Commercial darknet markets facilitate illegal-goods transactions and often accept Bitcoin as payment. Starting with the success of Silk Road and Diabolus Market and its subsequent confiscation by legal authorities, these markets have received a lot of media attention. Silk Road was one of the first dark web marketplaces to appear in 2011, allowing for the trade of weapons and resources for identity fraud.

These markets offer no user protection and can be shut down by authorities at any time. Although many marketplaces have closed, others have sprung up to take their place. There were at least 38 active dark web market venues as of 2020. These marketplaces are similar to eBay or Craigslist in that they allow users to interact with merchants and provide product reviews.

Studies on the quality of commodities received over the dark web, as well as pricing discrepancies in dark web markets versus prices in real life or on the World Wide Web, have been attempted. From January 2013 to March 2015, one such study was conducted on Evolution, one of the most popular crypto markets.

The study discovered issues with the quality of illegal drugs sold in Evolution, stating that “the illicit drugs purity is found to be different from the information indicated on their respective listings,” although the digital information, such as concealment methods and shipping country, “seems accurate.” Consumer motives for using these markets and the factors that influence their utilization are less well understood.

Botnets

Botnet command-and-control servers are frequently built on a censorship-resistant hidden service, resulting in a high amount of bot-related traffic.

Ransomware

Extortion-related activities are also carried out on the dark web. Data from ransomware attacks are frequently seen on many dark websites like data sales sites, public data repository sites, etc.

Keeping an eye on the dark web

The dark web has been argued to support civil rights such as “free speech, privacy, and anonymity.” Some prosecutors and government organizations fear it may become a refuge for illicit activity. The deep and dark webs are extensions of the internet that allow privacy and anonymity. Policing entails focusing on certain private web behaviors that are regarded as illegal or subject to internet regulation.

When investigating online suspects, authorities normally utilize the individual’s IP (Internet Protocol) address; however, because Tor browsers provide anonymity, this is no longer possible. As a result, law enforcement has turned to a variety of alternative methods to track down and apprehend anyone involved in unlawful activities on the dark web. Open Source Intelligence, or OSINT, is a type of data collecting technique that lawfully gathers information from public sources. Officers can use dark web-specific OSINT technologies to help them locate bits of information that will help them learn more about what’s going on in the dark web.

Interpol revealed in 2015 that it now offers a dark web training curriculum that includes technical information on Tor, cybersecurity, and simulated darknet market takedowns. The National Crime Agency and GCHQ announced the development of a “Joint Operations Cell” to combat cybercrime in October 2013. This squad was entrusted in November 2015 with combating child exploitation on the dark web as well as other forms of cybercrime.

Advertisement, continue reading

The Congressional Research Service published a thorough analysis on the dark web in March 2017, emphasizing the shifting dynamics of how the material is accessible and displayed on it; characterized by the unknown, it is attracting the attention of scholars, law enforcement, and politicians. According to a report published in August 2017, cybersecurity firms that monitor and research the dark web on behalf of banks and merchants routinely communicate their results with the FBI and other law enforcement authorities “where practicable and required” in the case of illicit content. The Russian-speaking underground, which operates on a crime-as-a-service premise, is thought to be particularly strong.

Revealing the Darknet

Many journalists, alternative news organizations, academics, and scholars have influenced the public’s understanding of the darknet through their writing and speaking about it. The dark web is often covered in two ways by the media: explaining the power and freedom of expression that the dark web allows people to express, or reaffirming the illegality and fear of its contents, such as computer hackers. Many headlines link the dark web to child pornography, such as “N.J. man charged with surfing ‘Dark Web’ to amass nearly 3K photographs of child porn,” as well as other illicit activities, such as “a nexus for black markets that sell or distribute drugs,” as described by news sites.

Specialist DeepDotWeb and All Things Vice, both clear web news sites, give news and practical information on dark web sites and services; nevertheless, authorities shut down DeepDotWeb in 2019. At any one time, the Hidden Wiki and its mirrors and forks house some of the largest content directories on the internet. Articles on the darknet have also appeared in traditional media and news networks such as ABC News.

Conclusion

The above explanation is only a small part of what lies in this deep and deeply elusive part of the Internet; As you go deeper you see the true nature of the dark web. It’s been said that there are only around two to ten thousand of these hidden services on the dark web, with only a little over half of them deemed illicit content, but these numbers can’t be taken as fact because well-hidden services are by design meant to be hidden. Of these few thousand websites, only less than six percent are accessed by people using Tor, which is less than 120,000 of the billions of people who use the Internet.

A hundred thousand people use the dark web, but only a few thousand of the billions of websites on the internet are considered illegal; this is a drop in the ocean. It’s no surprise that not everyone in the world is as sincere as they appear, but that’s the risk you take, and the price you pay for it. While the darkest portions of the internet exist, other parts exist to assist the rest of the globe. Many countries throughout the world prohibit content on the Internet that has been judged indecent by a higher power, usually governments. The dark web provides a safe sanctuary free of censorship, allowing individuals to glimpse the truth in many circumstances they would not have seen otherwise. It provides a safe space for people to discuss and report on vital issues without fear of censorship or even physical harm.

Many of the world’s top news organizations provide dark web services that allow people to come forward with information without fear of being discovered or publicly humiliated. This would have been crazy and stupid 10 or 15 years ago, but now it feels relatively normal. In some ways, we’re gradually giving up Internet privacy, but the dark web protects us. It allows people to reclaim their privacy and anonymity, which they can use either constructively or adversely.

While most of the medications sold on the dark web are illegal, they can also have some beneficial effects. For example, if you live in a country where they aren’t offered, you may buy them there, although governments and the general public believe the Silk Road had disastrous consequences.

The dark web does not have to be a dangerous environment. It’s only frightening if you go looking for things you don’t want to see; you won’t be able to get rid of them, but you won’t be able to avoid them either. If you don’t want to be a victim of the dark web, stay away from it whether or not you believe it’s as horrible as it’s made out to be. If this is the first time you’re reading about the dark web, you probably have no idea what you’re getting yourself into, and once you’re in, you’re not going anywhere.


Sources


Advertisement, continue reading

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, please contact us

SUPPORT US: Help us deliver true multilingual stories to the world. Support the UNREVEALED FILES by making a small monetary contribution. Your contribution will help us run this platform. You can contribute instantly by clicking on this PAY NOW link or SUBSCRIBE membership.

- Sponsored Articles -

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here