Blog / A Dark Web Primer
It’s not as terrifying a place as you might think, and here’s why.
It’s been said that you can find anything on the internet, and it’s pretty much true. Websites like Amazon sell everything from food to computers, and you can purchase prescription glasses, cars, and even houses entirely online. Admittedly some brands intentionally don’t sell their goods online, but you can usually find someone selling them second hand, or a workable equivalent. However, it’s important to remember that the internet is mostly safe because it’s (generally) well-regulated. But what happens when you leaved the civilized world wide web and step into the wild and unregulated dark web?
Like the internet, just not safe.
I’ve written about the dark web before but the thing to remember is that the vast majority of content is just fine. In fact, many people turn to the dark side of the web because of the ridiculous, almost-sickening degree of tracking and advertising we have to put up with on the “regular” internet. These lawful but nonetheless obnoxious problems often make the anonymity and lack of regulations on the dark web attractive to even non-criminal users.
That’s why the best description I can come up with for the dark web is that it’s a lot like the internet, just not safe. That is to say, in addition to dealing with all the advertising and tracking, regular internet user must also contend with the various privacy and protection laws from around the world. This provides a great deal of built-in protection and insulation. Legal businesses and organizations on the internet don’t want to be sued into oblivion so put in a lot of effort to avoid it. This is not necessarily true on the dark web.
The criminal element
Now to be fair, the dark web has earned its reputation as a hideaway for online criminals. You can find sites to buy things like drugs, guns, and all manner of other illegal things. Marketplaces like The SilkRoad sometimes make the news when they’re taken down. There are also plenty of articles that talk about RAAS (Ransomware as a service) which is when ransomware gangs rent out their infrastructure and take a cut of the ransom. However, none of those things are particularly new.
What you might not be aware of just how much malware can be bought and sold. Something even I wasn’t aware of and discovered over the course of researching this was that it’s possible to embed malware into Android apps. And although it’s not mentioned in the article realistically there’s somewhere to do the same thing for iOS apps as well. There are just too many juicy smartphone targets out there.
A lawless wasteland?
Just because all of this nastiness is available on the dark web does not mean it’s a lawless wasteland where literally anything goes. Criminals (typically) don’t offer or advertise their services to just anyone in the real world, and the dark web is no different. Any place that offers illegal services knows what it’s doing is illegal, so it’s not like you can just sign up for them the way you can at places like Amazon. Referrals are often used, meaning you can’t get into most of the truly terrible places without knowing someone that uses them already. So although it may be a lawless place, you won’t be suddenly hacked or wind-up accidentally joining a serial killer chat, because you still have to make an active effort to be bad enough to get peoples’ attention. More than that, much of it is backed by high-tech hackers, so while it may be lawless, calling the dark web a wasteland couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s plenty of high-tech sorcery going on, even if it’s just in the background.
That’s about it for our brief primer on the dark web, but if you’d like to know more about safe and secure browsing on the internet, contact TRINUS and we’ll be happy to provide some expert advice.
The play Measure for Measure contains this week’s quote of Shakespeare: “The jury passing on the prisoner’s life may in the sworn twelve have a thief or two guiltier than him they try.”
Be kind, courtesy your friendly neighbourhood cyber-man.