The Dark Web

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What do you think about when someone tells you another world exists other than the world we are part of. Does it scare you or get you excited? Are you excited enough to explore that new world or are you scared to even look at it?

The Dark Web, also called the underworld, is the deadliest second world. The word ‘underworld’ sounds scary as we associate it with organised crime and criminals, which obviously gives us the chills. The Dark Web is part of the world wide web but it exists on darknets, overlay networks which use the internet for access but also uses some specific software. Don’t confuse the Dark Web for the Deep Web. The Deep Web is that part of the world wide web that is kept hidden behind HTML forms. It’s common uses are online banking and web mail. For some movies or magazines we have to have to pay because they are protected by a paywall, so it’s legal online content, whereas the Dark Web is totally different and is generally defined as illegal.  

In the Dark Web, the darknets are small peer-to-peer networks or a large networks such as Tor, Freenet and I2P which are operated by individuals or unknown public organisations. This free software will help you get in the encrypted network and help you to maintain your anonymity online. You won’t see the domain ending with .com or .org, it will end in .onion. No one knows how big the dark web is but it’s a hundred times bigger than the surface web (the web which is accessible to us). According to some people, the data is not intentionally hidden from people, it’s just that the technology of the current search engine can’t find it.

The dark web is totally anonymous and very powerful. You can do anything you want once you get in. You can find illegal trade and activities of all kinds, including: illicit drugs, child pornography, stolen credit card numbers, human trafficking, weapons, exotic animals and copyrighted media. With the dark web, the world is your oyster; if you don’t like someone and wish to kill them, just give the order, make the payments and your work is done. Your enemy is dead.

The infamous Silk Road was the first darknet online black market which became the best platform for selling illegal things, especially drugs. It was operated under the hidden servers of the dark web. People were buying and selling anonymously and without traffic monitoring. It first came to the Dark Web in February 2011 and was shut down by the FBI in October 2013. Silk Road 2.0 was again shut down by the FBI and Europol on 6th November 2014 and Silk Road 3.0 came offline in 2017 because of loss of funds. Ross William Ulbricht was the owner and founder of Silk Road, arrested in 2013, he was convicted of eight charges related to Silk Road by U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Tor, the free software that gets you into the dark web, was the concomitant of the U.S Naval Research Laboratory, which made Tor for the political dissenters and informants, enabling them to convey without dread of retaliation. What they did not realise was that it would soon become such a powerful tool for illegal trading. 

Anonymity is what defines the Dark Web, neither buyers nor sellers know a thing about the other. They do not know who are they selling to or buying from and all the payments are done via Bitcoin, an encrypted digital currency. All kinds of transactions are possible with Bitcoin and it is untraceable. It could be the currency of the future, a decentralized and unregulated money free from the reins of any government. In the Tor software, it’s the closest thing to an idol approach to buy and sell on the Dark Web. In 2014, there was a study from the University of Portsmouth by Gareth Owen, which found that the most uploaded content on Tor was child pornography. 

The future of Dark Web predicts that the marketplace will become stronger, Trend Micro foresees ‘the rise of new, completely decentralised marketplaces‘ that rely on Bitcoin’s blockchain technology. It predicts that this will be used ‘to implement full-blown marketplaces without a single point of failure’, guaranteeing safe and secure transactions. With Bitcoins becoming much more difficult to track, the report says that ‘cryptocurrencies go hand in hand with Deep Web marketplaces… in that regard, we’ll see new, advanced ways to make Bitcoins even less traceable than they are now‘. It also notes that malware could take advantage of the blockchain technology, making the dark web and all the mysterious illegal activity that goes on there even harder to track and, therefore, making users even harder to prosecute.      

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