“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Often mentioned on TV shows and movies, the dark web may sound intriguing. However, it’s important to understand what the dark web truly is and the risks it presents.

Deep Web vs. Dark Web
Often, the terms deep web and dark web are used interchangeably but they are actually different things. The deep web refers to web content, databases, and web services that aren’t visible to traditional search engines. It’s a level of the web where protected information may be hosted by government agencies, medical systems and financial firms. While some nefarious activity can happen here, the deep web is mostly used for non-public data. If you don’t know the exact location and have the right credentials, it’s fairly difficult to find for the average computer user.

The dark web is far less innocent. While there are organizations that use it to help vulnerable parties connect with each other, a forum for abuse survivors for example, those uses account for only a very small percentage of activity on the dark web. The dark web requires special software to access it. The dark web is an encrypted network of volunteer-operated servers through complex series of tunnels. The purpose of this set-up is for anonymity – for users and the servers in the network. Sites on the dark web are also hidden from search engine indexing using complex encryption and protocols. Far more often, the dark web is used for illegal sites and services including child pornography, drug sales, weapon sales and even human trafficking.

Dangers of the Dark Web
With only a few exceptions, the dark web has fully earned its reputation for being the playground of hackers, criminals and terrorists. Curious but inexperienced users trying to navigate the dangerous world of the dark web can easily find themselves in over their heads.

Privacy – While one goal of the dark web is to provide anonymity for users, its users know how to protect their privacy with false identities, cloaking programs that hide their computer information from others and other security measures. One slip up and you could find your identity and livelihood stolen by a faceless, nameless ghost from the dark web. Much like riding into battle without armor, the enemy seeks out the easy targets – namely curious but unprotected newbies.

Security – Hackers use the dark web to share malware, viruses and to plan or launch cybersecurity attacks. Uninitiated users could find themselves unwittingly downloading tools that allow hackers to use their computers to spread catastrophic malware to other systems and services.

Illegal Activity – Unknowledgeable users can easily find themselves in dark and disturbing hubs of illegal activity, most notably sites that distribute child pornography or networks used for human trafficking. Drug and weapons dealers also use the dark web to sell their wares. Terrorists are also known for exploiting the dark web to recruit people, plan attacks and share information.

Bottom line: the dark web does exist but it’s not something to be taken lightly. In fact, if you decide to dig into the dark web, you do so at great risk to yourself and others – including the unwilling victims of criminals who use the dark web.  If you feel like you have been a victim and need a private investigator, call on Bulldog PI.