Armani Jackson, Managing Editor
More people have access to the web than ever before. With that access, people can brag about their fun activities on Facebook, Instagram their latest meal, tweet about the terrible driver in front of them and send Snaps to friends.
These activities take place on the top layer of the web where a majority of results can be discovered using a Google search.
As the Internet expands, the underside, also known as the deep web, is becoming more mainstream. A typical user can’t access this layer through a traditional browser, such as Firefox or Chrome.
To access the deep web, someone must use another type of browser, most commonly Tor. This type of software makes a user anonymous and essentially untraceable by encrypting web traffic and rerouting the computer’s IP address through random servers. This means a computer’s true identity and location are no longer distinguishable.
The deep web can also be subdivided. A part of the deep web is the dark web, the portion of the Internet where illicit activities and cybercriminals tend to flock. The deep web isn’t necessarily illegal, it just contains sites that are unindexed, which means not accessible through a normal search engine. For example, a student’s Gmail account or Pierce databases would be classified as the deep web.
The dark web is where it gets interesting because it hosts a variety of illicit activities, including, but not limited to, drug deals, human trafficking, sex slavery, terrorist communication, child pornography and assassinators for hire. Forums are available for hackers or, say, like-minded individuals to exchange ideas on effective ways for someone to choke on their blood while still being tasteful.
The dark web is a collection of websites that are publicly visible, but IP addresses of the servers that run them are hidden. That means anyone can visit a dark web site, but it can be difficult to figure out where they’re hosted—or by whom.
Most users on the dark web already know the URLs of the site they want. Unlike a site on the surface level, dark web links end with the Tor-created .onion tag. There’s a Deep Search tool that works similar to Google for finding .onion sites.
Society may deem it taboo to know how to access sites like these because people think that if someone is on the dark web, they’re doing something illegal. Someone can browse and still end up finding something they wish they hadn’t. This portion of the web is accessible to anyone who wants in.
“Sometimes you can see awful, creepy as hell things,” a Pierce College student who wished to remain anonymous said. “If anything says webcam, stay away from it. The reason I say this is they’ll sometimes have people auctioning off other people and they tell them what to do with those people. You can go on the Internet and see a bunch of horror stories. I sold my computer after that happened. I didn’t know (what I was getting myself into).”
If someone wanted to buy weapons, drugs, people etc. the process works similar to Amazon. Users select products they want to buy. However, the steps to complete the purchase are more complicated.
Customers don’t have products shipped to their home addresses. They usually choose a neutral, easily accessible but hidden place. Also, people don’t pay with their debit or credit cards because business is typically done through a bartering system using bitcoins. This is virtual currency that has offline value. Once a product is purchased, the corresponding number of bitcoins are transferred from the customer’s account, held by a neutral third-party, and then transferred into the seller’s account once customers have verified that they’re satisfied with their purchases.
Not everything on the dark web is “dark,” however. For example, one of Tor’s hidden services is SecureDrop, a tool that helps news organizations to receive anonymous submissions and comments.
Facebook uses the dark web, too. According to Wired magazine, “Facebook has launched a dark web site aimed at better catering to users who visit the site using Tor to evade surveillance and censorship.”
This helps countries with strict censorship laws because they can use it in order to have a voice and outside communication without the fear of being easily discovered by government authorities.
“We live in a very monitored society, they’ll watching everything we do,” Computer Network Engineering Instructor Ciaran Bloomer said. “That might inhibit people (or) restrict creativity. They’ll feel more comfortable (and can) operate with the privacy that people used to take for granted not too very long ago, so it (the dark web) might be beneficial in that regard. (Or) sometimes if you’re trying to fight tyranny, not that we have it at the governmental level. They might shut you down, (but) if you’re on the dark web they won’t be able to.”
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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