The internet has many faces. Whilst the majority of us use search engines to learn, research and interact, there is a less than innocent side to the online world, a space where you can gain a higher level of anonymity and access to all manner of things, be they legal or otherwise.
We are of course, talking about the dark web.
The dark web is that part of the internet that seeks to avoid regulation and operates in the shadows of the internet. Whilst the moral majority hear about the dark web, may even be curious about it, they feel they are less than competent to access this invisible, encrypted online space.
This isn’t without good cause; Dark web search engines are a throwback to the late nineties, and there are multiple issues with timed-out connections and 404 errors. Not only that but the dark web isn't visible or indexed by regular search engines and necessitates the use of a special browser called Tor to be accessed.
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Many dark web users are hiding their activities for a reason, researchers from King's College in London found that 57 percent of dark web sites host illicit material. Like the criminal underworld in the major cities, the dark web opens up the world of possibilities from counterfeit cash to stolen software.
Buying and Selling
Thanks to bitcoin, trading on the dark web has gone from strength to strength. Nearly all dark web commerce sites conduct transactions in bitcoin. Dark web commerce sites mirror standard ecommerce sites with ratings/reviews and shopping carts yet there is little quality control, with sellers and buyers disappearing and re-emerging without any way to follow up or monitor activities.
Commerce on the dark web is an eye opener with credit cards, drugs, counterfeit cash and shady software all available for purchase. From everything out there and most recently the list included deceased peoples’ medical records, those looking on the dark web can purchase:
1. Hacker hitmen.
For businesses looking to destroy other businesses without the know-how, this is a useful and frightening service provided on dark websites. Less than ethical businesses can under an alias, hire hackers, also under an alias, to attack computers.
2. Hacked government data
A few days after the US government’s Office of Personnel Management was hacked, it showed up on the Deep Web for sale. The International Business Times claimed that this data could be available on famous criminal dark net websites like Agora, Alpha Bay and Nucleus" although couldn’t provide any evidence to substantiate this.
Bottom line is any government data that gets hack will eventually resurface on one of the dark net websites.
3. Credit Card Numbers
The dark web is notorious for selling off both credit cards and PayPal account login credentials by the hundreds for low prices. In fact, credit card details are specifically sold in huge batches as many will have been cancelled, so buying less than a hundred would be pointless to a crook, as many will have been cancelled.
As for PayPal, criminals can simply log in and scoop up whatever is in the account, with the logins up for grabs to the highest bidder on a dark net site. With several high profile large scale attacks on PayPal, make sure to update your credentials and fast.
Learning more about the dark net only serves to help us put more controls in place when it comes to protecting our data. Keep yourself informed and keep reading about the dark net, here or through other cyber security news websites.