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What is the Dark Web and Why is it Dangerous?

by Kevin Bellah

The dark web is a slice of the internet that is not indexed by search engines and cannot be accessed through standard browsers. This hidden layer of the internet is often associated with anonymity and crime, as it is a prevalent place for criminals to buy and sell illegal items and services. However, the dark web can also be used for legitimate purposes, such as protecting sensitive information or communicating with others in privacy. Despite its benefits, the dark web can be dangerous and should be used with caution.

What is the Dark Web?

The dark web cannot be accessed through normal means. Websites on the dark web are not found on search engines and tend to have a .onion domain name, which ends with “.onion”, rather than a .com or .org ending. In order to access the dark web, users need to download special software such as Tor. Once connected, users have an anonymous IP address and can access hidden websites that only show up when using Tor. In addition to allowing anonymity, this hidden layer of the internet allows people all over the world to communicate in private without fear of censorship from oppressive governments.

What is the Deep Web?

There are differences between the deep web and the dark web. While the dark web has a bit of a sketchy reputation, the deep web is a much more mundane part of the internet that search engines cannot index. This includes password-protected websites, legal documents and databases, and hidden pages in public websites. Some estimates suggest that up to 96% of the internet is in fact in the deep web, which makes it difficult for people to find information using normal means. 

What is Tor?

Tor was developed by the US military for online surveillance purposes but was then released to the public in 2004 under the name of The Onion Router, or Tor. The US military turned it into a surveillance tool for themselves but eventually decided to release it because its potential for good was greater than its potential for harm, according to the Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

This technology was designed so that traffic is routed through multiple relays around the world instead of in one direct route, making it harder for anyone trying to spy on someone’s internet activity. This is what gives users anonymity; when combined with encryption (see below), even if one relay is compromised, all of the other relays will still encrypt and anonymize data packets.

Tor has become widely used by people who live in oppressive regimes, such as China and Iran; journalists, activists, and whistleblowers use Tor to communicate and send out information. This is why it is known as a “whistleblower” tool. However, anonymity on the darknet can also be used for illegal purposes.

What Makes the Dark Web Dangerous?

There are many concerns about the dangers of the dark web because it has been linked with criminals and people who want to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. Everything from illegal drugs to unregistered guns can be bought on this hidden layer of the internet by anyone with an internet connection, which makes it very dangerous if not used correctly. Most importantly, however, users need to remember that Tor was created by a US military agency and is thus vulnerable to attack.

The most prominent example of this vulnerability occurred in October 2013 with the Silk Road case, where one of the servers used by dark web market Silk Road was seized by law enforcement. Ross Ulbricht’s computer also contained his personal logs, which revealed details about all of his illegal transactions as the Dread Pirate Roberts, which led to his arrest.

Since then, the US government has been trying to shut down as many of these dark web markets as possible, but they are constantly popping up with new domain names. In addition, there have been several cases of hacked hidden services in recent years, which means that users need to be very careful about the websites they visit and the information they share while using Tor.

The dark web remains a powerful tool for people who want to communicate and collaborate anonymously despite the dangers. It is important to be aware of the risks involved when using it, but it can also be a lifesaver for those who need it most.

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