There are three layers to the web. The most widely available is the first layer where you can use Google to search and read blogs or articles. The deep web is the middle layer. This is how you do online banking, secure private emails, or access documents for work that are not available to the public. The deepest layer is known as the dark web. Users embrace the enhanced anonymity available.
The dark web looks much like the normal web. Accessed through special software, the dark web is different. Some sites are not indexed which means you can’t find them on Google or search engines. They can only be accessed if you know the address of the site. There are darknet markets which primarily sell illegal products like drugs, child pornography, and firearms. Bitcoin is the currency widely used on the dark web.
There is a lot of illegal activity on the dark web. The sale of drugs, funding for assassinations, terrorist groups, and pedophiles are all found on the dark web. A recent study at Carnegie Mellon University found annual sales of drugs on the dark web in the US to be one hundred million dollars. Most of these sales are paid for with Bitcoin.
One of the most famous Dark Web shut downs was Silkroad. It was a company that was involved in illegal activity, including selling drugs. The owner is now serving a lifetime sentence in prison. He thought his dealings on the dark web were anonymous, but clearly law enforcement was able to identify him.
The most common way to access the dark web is through the Tor browser. It allows you to find websites with the .onion extension. The .onion websites are accessible only through the dark web. They can’t be accessed through normal browsers.
The dark web is not all child pornography, drugs, and firearms. In countries with censorship for sites like Facebook and Twitter, users utilize the dark web to anonymously access them. It has also been used for whistle blowers to maintain their anonymity while communicating with journalists.
Some people like the secrecy the dark web provides. The special software attempts to shield a user’s identity as they access content. More and more dark web businesses are being prosecuted, so clearly anonymity is an illusion to some extent. If you decide to explore the dark web, know the search engines tend to move slower than surface searches like Google. Also beware that you may access malicious content.
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