The internet brings up the realm of possibilities that permanently changed the business landscape and our personal lives.
Many of us consider access to a stable high-speed internet connection a vital element of our daily lives. We pay our online bills, check our bank statements, conversation through email, find information, and maintain a presence on social media. However, most well-known search engines in today’s era, including Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo, can only index a portion of the internet.
The portion of the internet we access daily is known as the clear or surface web.
But beyond that surface web are the deep and dark web that require some precautions to access. We’re explaining the dark web in detail, which is an encrypted section of the internet that is not indexed by search engines and needs specific configuration or authorization to access.
Let’s have a glance in detail about what is the dark web as well as how to access it.
There are many websites that can be accessible to anyone online, used for streaming, online shopping, gaming, and working; however, there is another online space that can be used for many illegal activities. This is known as the dark web.
Keep in mind that you can’t access the dark web through traditional browsers and search engines. It is created to stay hidden until you access it via a special browser like Tor.
Furthermore, many links are related to the dark web with Silk Road, an online marketplace that is used to purchase any number of illegal drugs. In addition to that, a wide range of other products will be purchased on the dark web, like fake passports and degrees, weapons, and sensitive personal information.
Nevertheless, not all sites on the dark web are accessed for illegal purposes, but due to their anonymity has made it widespread with cyber criminals, and the personal data market generates a hefty portion of this elusive part of the internet.
So, how do criminals sell their sensitive data on the dark web?
Are you looking at how these criminal dark web vendors get their hands on personal data? This can be done through data breaches of large organizations. Once a cybercriminal invades a database and steals a large amount of data, they visit the dark web to sell individual bits or large pieces of the harbored data to users on the dark web.
For instance, a criminal can hack a shopping website to use email addresses or a health insurance company to find social security numbers. Whatever methods these hacks are used, they can be a potential gold mine for vendors and buyers alike.
When someone’s data is put up for sale on the dark web, it is difficult to get it to vanish. The majority of people don’t have an idea that their data has been sold in this way until it’s too late. That is why data breaches are so dangerous.
The dark web started in 2000 with the release of Freenet, the thesis project done by University of Edinburgh student Lan Clarke, who fixed to generate a “Distributed Decentralized Information Storage and Retrieval System.” Lan Clarke created a new way to communicate and share files online anonymously. Tor Project was the basis for that groundwork, released in 2002 and launched a browser in 2008. With the help of Tor, users will browse the internet completely anonymously and explore sites that were part of the “dark web.”
Originally accessed by the United States Department of Defense to communicate anonymously, the dark web has now become a hub for users wishing to stay anonymous around the world. People access the dark web for both legal and illegal purposes. It uses a technology known as “onion routing,” which secures users from surveillance and tracking through a random path of encrypted servers. When users use a site through Tor, their information is routed through thousands of relay points that hide the user’s tracks and make their browsing virtually impossible to trace.
While accessing the dark web may seem suspect on the surface, it is perfectly legal, and there are many legitimate uses of Tor and anonymous browsing. For instance, in countries where government surveillance will be used to spy on and oppress political dissidents, the dark web is a place for communication that avoids government censorship and scrutiny. Apart from its added layers of security, people must be cautious when using the dark web and take proper security measures, such as updating their security software, browsing with a robust VPN, and prohibiting the use of a standard email address.
According to its anonymous nature, the dark web is also used for illicit as well as illegal purposes. These consist of the purchasing and selling of illegal drugs, weapons, passwords, and stolen identities and the trading of illegal pornography and other potentially harmful materials. There are multiple sites hosting illegal material that government agencies have discovered and shut down in recent years, such as Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Hansa. Furthermore, the anonymity of the dark web has led to cybersecurity threats and several data breaches over the last few decades.
The ‘Intro to the Web Profit’ report recognized 12 categories of tools or services that can represent a risk in the form of a network breach or data compromise:
- Infection or attacks, such as malware, spreading denial of service (DDoS), and botnets.
- Access containing remote access Trojans (RATs), keyloggers and exploits.
- Espionage, including services, customization, and targeting.
- Support services like tutorials.
- Customer data.
- Operational data.
- Financial data.
- Intellectual property and trade secrets.
- Other emerging threats.
According to the report, it has mentioned three risk variables for each category:
- Devaluing the enterprise can include undermining brand trust, causing reputational damage, or losing ground to a competitor.
- Disrupting the enterprise that contains DDoS attacks or other malware that impacts business operations.
- Defrauding the enterprise that consists of IP theft or espionage that impairs a company’s ability to complete or causes a direct financial loss.
Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) kits have been accessible on the dark web for several years, but those offerings have become more dangerous with the rise of specialized criminal groups, such as REvil or GrandCrab. These groups launch their own sophisticated malware, sometimes joined with pre-existing tools, and divide them through “affiliates.”
The affiliates divide the ransomware packages through the dark web. These attacks contain stealing victims’ data and threatening to release it on the dark web if the ransom isn’t paid.
The Most Dangerous Aspects of Buying on the Dark Web
Let’s have a look at the main risks of purchasing something through the Dark Web.
The first issue is all about trust. Nobody on the Dark Web was aware of the identity of anyone else on the Dark Web. Therefore, it is very hard to do business since you can be scammed at any time or moment. Dark Web markets actually exist to solve this problem. They build themselves as a trusted middleman, ensuring that both seller and vendor get what they would like, taking a cut for rendering the service.
On the other hand, in some cases, entire markets can switch to scams themselves. Vanishing overnight while taking all the in-transit money. That is rare in this case, and glad to have markets themselves that a seller can scam seem seldom.
Then what are the most dangerous aspects? The main issue is someone searching out who you really are. You don’t want the people who run the market, the seller, or any third parties such as law enforcement. If your real identity is revealed, it will open up to all sorts of negative consequences. In addition to that, you will also be arrested and go to jail.
Many of these recommended practices will be implemented on the Dark Web. However, we are not referring to the purchase of illegal items from the Dark Web; we were just explaining the tools and methods people access to secure their identities while doing so.
Most Dark Web websites will only be used while using Tor hidden services. Go to the Tor Project website and install the preconfigured Tor browser.
However, Tor keeps you safe and secure by itself; you mustn’t feel too comfortable. Furthermore, your operating system tells about where you’ve been and what you’ve done. You can protect it by combining the top-notch Tor with Trails. It is a special live OS that doesn’t carry or store any information about your activities and pulls out of no trace on the computer you access it.
Operating system-based privacy betrayal is not the only solution where you can give away your personal and identifiable information. Your own browser and several other software accessing your computer can also provide your identity or location away without you ever knowing.
Therefore, it’s the best option to choose privacy testing services that will show you what information is leaking from your machine. Definitely, the best course is still in use, like Tails or Qubes, for events when you would like to use the Dark Web for any reason, not for marketing purposes.
Keep in mind that you mustn’t provide any personal information to a seller or the market itself. Make sure not to publish anything that can be traced back to you. In addition to that, your choice of user name will be a clue if you formulated it from something associated with you. Hence, resist naming yourself after your favorite sports team or TV show. Choose a word or some number randomly. Be incognito and say nothing more than required to complete the deal.
When Bitcoin hit the scene, most people were convinced that this was the answer to anonymous, digital cash.
For the time being, it is true, but authorities quickly recognized that they could match Dark Web transactions to specific wallets while accessing the public ledger system that Bitcoin is based on. This has given level up the so-called Bitcoin “tumbler,” which accesses a special exchange process to make it harder for anyone to trace transactions. When you get down to it, Bitcoin is not private. If the market you’re going to use supports other more private currencies, such as Monero, it is a great idea to access that instead. However, it’s always an arms race, and even Monero’s privacy is already under attack.
You must require an email address in order to register with a Dark Web market.
It’s a bad idea to access your private email address on your work or generally. That email is connected to plenty of services, such as social media, that can be traced back to you without any hassle.
Moreover, it is much better to access a dedicated, encrypted, and anonymous email service.
While any traffic pushed through the Tor network will be encrypted, and your ISP and government will still view that you are using Tor. However, accessing a VPN along with Tor Internet will keep them in the dark as to what you’re doing. Besides the use of the Dark Web, you must access the best VPN when it comes to your privacy these days.
The postal method has worked well enough in the past, but now times have changed. Several postal services around the world have noticed the massive uptick in a package that has turned them into an illegal merchandise distribution network. Therefore, inspection and postal law enforcement stepped up like hell crazy. Due to this reason, this option become much riskier as compared to it’s been in the past.
Besides, many markets now provide a “dead drop” service. They will have various neutral locations where you can gather your package. Obviously, this comes with its open dangers, so the person making the pickup must wear something that hides their face and ensure the drop isn’t being watched. It is not as easy as using Amazon.
How to Connect to the Dark Web on iOS?
Do you want to connect to the dark web on an iPhone or iPad? Well! It is recommended that there is no official Tor app right now. Tor Project suggests iOS users in order to connect while accessing the iOS Onion Browser app.
However, this app is slightly different from the official Tor browser. On the other hand, it is a good alternative for iPhone users that the Tor Project itself recommends. It contains vulnerabilities that are not present in the official Tor browser. Due to this reason, you may access this app to connect to the dark web, but at your own risk.
The darknet that is used tor is the most popular and well-known darknet available on the internet. The most famous of those darknets are I2P and Freenet. In contrast to it, there are others:
Now, how can you connect to the darknet? To use those specific darknet networks, you need to access the specific browsers developed for them. Nevertheless, keep in mind that they are less user-friendly as compared to Tor, where you can access the dark web easily.
When you’re searching and surfing the dark web, there is a high chance of running into malicious websites that contain malware. There is a notable amount of malicious websites on the dark web, which means it is extremely important and careful about where you go. As a consequence, it is necessary that you access a strong firewall and an antivirus with real-time scanning and protection against incoming threats.
In addition to that, we recommend accessing a VPN for Tor, as it will put an extra layer of privacy to your connection to Tor. This will also prevent your ISP from knowing that you are using the dark web. With the use of the Tor browser, your ISP will never be able to detect what you are doing on the dark web. In fact, if you don’t use a VPN. They will be able to take notice that you are accessing Tor to do something.
The nature of the dark web is frequently evolving, so the loss of the Silk Road took you to a series of similar marketplaces, filling the void.
Dream Market turns out to be the largest online marketplace for illegal drugs, with the Dread Pirate Roberts searching for his ship dead in the water. It has a wide range of things, from drugs and stolen data to counterfeit goods of all descriptions. Dream Market flourished until the site was shut down in April 2019; the owner had been arrested two years previously.
As we’ve outlined earlier, these darknet marketplaces continue to come and go, but here are some recently active markets:
- Cannazon: Darknet marketplace devoted to all things that are weed-related, along with 2500 listings and 200 vendors.
- Empire Market: It was founded in 2018; Empire Market has 1 million users browsing over 50,000 listings from 4500 sellers all around the world. Now, it is the largest darknet marketplace.
- Hydra: It is an illegal Russian marketplace that was established in 2015 and achieved over $1 billion in sales during a three-year period to 2019.
- Versus: This darknet is a user-friendly marketplace developed in late 2019; you can purchase all kinds of drugs on Versus.
- White House Marketplace: It is a smaller darknet marketplace with a sharp focus on security; you can purchase drugs and a range of illicit services and products on WHM.
Therefore, you can see how straightforward it is to purchase drugs online. Is it safe to do so?
Are you looking to buy drugs? Whether it’s a bag of weed, some prescription painkillers, or a bulk of heroin, the perceived anonymity of the dark web means it is like an attractive alternative to physically sourcing narcotics.
When you recognize the disruption to global supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. It may be the best time to purchase drugs online.
But the reality is that there are many dangers waiting to attack when you start doing business on the dark web. Especially if your aim is to buy illegal drugs.
Furthermore, prices of drugs on the dark web are way higher as compared to street drugs, where you’re investing your money in a premium package for anonymity, ease, and convenience.
In addition to that, you have no idea what you will be getting. The heroine would be cut with fentanyl, prescription pills could be counterfeit, and rarities, such as Quaaludes, are often bootlegs.
If you have ever considered purchasing drugs on the dark web. Make sure to be aware that law enforcement agencies are fully aware of what is going on. Many unsuspecting buyers have had DEA agents representing them at their door rather than the package of drugs they were expecting. Hence, purchasing drugs online exposes you to the risk of federal drug charges.
The other danger is being uncertain of what you are getting when you purchase from an anonymous dealer online.
The Dark Web is an appealing and complex landscape that will be accessed for both legal and illegal activities. As we have mentioned earlier, it will be used to facilitate insider trading by offering a secure and anonymous platform for criminals to operate.
Although the Dark Web can seem intimidating and difficult to use. There are many tools available to help investigators hide their secrets. With the right resources and investigative techniques, it is important to identify those who are engaging in insider trading activities.
When you get to understand the Dark Web and its various complexities, law enforcement, and other authorities can better secure people and businesses from malicious activity.