What is the dark web and what is it used for?

Oluwatosin Jegede

The dark web is a tiny part of the deep web that is inaccessible except for using special software like Tor, I2P, and Freenet. The purpose of these networks is to provide anonymity for their users by hiding their IP addresses. This makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track down cyber-criminals.

The dark web has some legitimate uses, such as whistleblowing websites or online communities where people share personal information anonymously to avoid harassment from other users.

Definition of the dark web

To fully understand the dark web, it helps to know that there are two parts of the internet: the visible web (what you are likely using now) and the deep or hidden web. The deep web refers to all online content that isn’t indexed by search engines like Bing or Google. They can’t be accessed through normal means. This is where things like emails, databases, and password-protected sites reside.

The dark side of the deep web—the so-called darknet—is a smaller subset that is inaccessible without specific software designed to hide users’ identities and activities on their devices from surveillance programs like spyware, adware, or viruses.

A typical example would be Tor (short for The Onion Router), an encrypted network first developed by U.S Navy researchers in 2001 to allow government employees access to information without fear of being tracked by malicious hackers or foreign governments.

What’s illegal on the dark web?

The dark web is a place where illegal activity happens, and in many cases, it is used to commit crimes. Just like the regular web, there are many things you can buy and sell on the dark web. Some of these items include drugs, weapons, and child pornography. Blackmailing and extortion are also common crimes committed on the dark web. Hackers often target people who have information they want kept secret or want to use against them in some way.

The callous nature of cybercrime can be seen in how criminals often demand ransom from their victims by threatening violence or even death if they don’t pay up. They can release private information about the victims (such as embarrassing photos) unless they comply with demands for payment.

Criminal marketplaces

While many users buy and sell legal goods on the deep web, others use it to traffic illegal goods and services. Criminal marketplaces exist on the dark web, allowing you to buy and sell things like drugs, weapons, and stolen data.

Some of these sites have been shut down by law enforcement agencies, or their owners have decided to shut them down because of security concerns (the Hansa marketplace was taken down after officials discovered that some of its users had been arrested). However, new sites are constantly popping up; some are just as big or even bigger than their predecessors!

Hacking tools

One of the most common uses for the dark web is to buy hacking tools. These tools can be used for good and bad but are not illegal in themselves. For example, someone could use a zero-day exploit to hack into an ATM and steal money from it. On the other hand, security experts can use these same zero-day exploits to find vulnerabilities in software and fix them.

Pirated content

One everyday use for the dark web is pirating content. Piracy is illegal, but it’s not hard to find pirated content on any platform. You can find a lot of it on the surface and deep web as well. People use the dark web to engage in this activity because of its anonymity. You can remain anonymous while browsing and downloading illegally-obtained files without worrying about being tracked down by law enforcement agencies or internet providers.

The dark web makes it easier for users to download pirated content without worrying about getting caught. There are no restrictions on the content type you can access when using the Tor Browser or any other browser that offers access over an encrypted connection (such as Firefox Quantum).

Malicious software (malware)

The dark web is where people buy and sell things anonymously. It’s also a place where you can find malware—malicious software that can infect your computer, steal data, track you on the internet, and more. Cybercriminals often use Malware to steal money from unsuspecting victims.

Dark web, better to stay away for non-expert users

The dark web is what some might call the deep web, but it’s not quite that simple. The deep web can also be used for legitimate purposes, like data mining and medical research.

It can only be accessed by special software like Tor or Freenet. It includes criminal marketplaces and hacking tools, making it a dangerous place for anyone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Read also: The EU wants to curb the powers of Big Tech companies: the Digital Market Act explained

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