The Dark Web 101: An Easy Guide

Does the term “dark web” pop up now and then without you knowing what it means, exactly? You may hear more and more about the dark web through movies, novels, and other forms of entertainment, yet the term’s true meaning remains unclear. One thing is clear: the dark web is attached to some negative situations. From popular media sources, such as books and movies, you know what the dark web is supposed to be. Mostly, popular entertainment portrays it as a black market on the internet, home to all kinds of illegal activities. One finds stolen credit card numbers, bank account information, social security numbers, sensitive documents for taxes and employment, anything that can lead to a stolen identity. One finds illegal drugs for sale next to prescription drugs, available from an online database that functions a lot like a big-box online retailer. Human slavery, violence, and porn of all kinds, legal and illegal, are all available for the right price, and a little computer software savvy.

 

Websites listed on the dark web cannot be tracked, one of its main appeals to criminals. Google can’t search for and find anything on the dark web, meaning its pages are unindexed. Nothing on the dark web easily traces back to a local IP address. Instead, the signals bounce worldwide, creating a huge level of privacy in which illegal actions occur. The dark web isn’t completely unregulated, though. Criminal sites can be traced and shut down by the authorities over time, as has already happened with several illegal drug and pornography sites on the dark web. The anonymity the dark web affords its users means investigation takes months or years to take hours or days on the regular internet.

Yes, the dark web’s main name to fame is the criminal aspect, but lots of legitimate people use the dark web, too. Imagine knowing that your alternative political or religious thoughts could lead to your imprisonment, torture, death, and it could happen to you tomorrow. The main attraction for political dissidents and journalists is the dark web’s relatively complete anonymity. Communicating without being tracked by anyone, including your own government, gives these individuals freedom to alter their otherwise hopeless circumstances.

A user’s convenience and lower chance of being shamed are two key factors that keep the dark web in use. Twenty years ago, we would’ve pictured illegal drugs and porn sold by a creepy individual in greasy, unkempt clothes in a filthy movie theater or city alley. However, today’s buyer on the dark web doesn’t risk nearly as much as he or she once would have. One, you can’t be caught red-handed. No police hiding just out of sight, no family members or friends who happen to be passing by that theater or alley. Two, you can’t be the victim of violence or theft (not at that moment, anyway)—no “deals gone wrong” or being in the wrong part of the neighborhood.

Just browse and click, and your illegal, stolen goods come right to your door.

Whenever you hear about another data breach, some bank or credit check service admitting someone hacked in and stole its user’s data, now you know where a lot of that sensitive information went. It’s just sitting out there on some dark web database, waiting for a criminal to purchase a lot of stolen customer data—yours.