Why The Dark Web Became The Place You Should Never Visit


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all your online accounts secure! A certain amount of mystery still surrounds
what has become known as the dark web. The very name evokes images of an underworld,
a kind of catacomb where scoundrels hide out and human depravity awaits us around each
corner. But research has shown that the dark web is
perhaps not as dark as many of us imagine. Yes, one can certainly go to this place and
acquire a handful of illegal substances, and yes, if a person so chooses they can scour
the dark web and find images that most of the world would find repellent, but let’s
just say you won’t find hitmen for hire all over the dark web nor as much video violence
than we might have thought. The question is though, who on Earth came
up with this idea in the first place? We’ve been through this in other shows so
we’ll make it short, and we are talking about what the dark web actually is. You see, the internet as most of us know it,
the bit you are using right now, is only a small part of the web. Sources don’t agree on how much, but it’s
said the part of the web that we can access using ordinary browsers is only about 10 percent
of the entire thing. You can also find sources that say it’s
four percent, or even one percent. Still, it’s thought there are about 1.8
billion active websites on the net, although, again, you can find sources that give a different
number – much higher sometimes. This doesn’t of course mean that the rest
of the web is the dark web and full of dark marketplaces, otherwise we might have cause
for concern. What it means is that the rest of the web,
which we call the deep web, is used by private companies, governments, etc. It is invisible to you. Well, it is if you can’t hack into it or
are not actively, legally, using it. Think about your email, online banking, company
servers, these aren’t exactly searchable on the web. So of course the deep web is way bigger than
the navigable web. Ok, you understand that. So, what about the dark web? Well, this is a place within the deep web
that is also hidden but can be accessed using something called the Tor browser. You can use this browser along with a VPN
(virtual private network) to access the dark web. You might do this if you are an activist and
want anonymity, such as people that criticize governments whose modus operandi shows no
mercy for political dissidents. But you might also enter the dark web so you
can access what are sometimes called “Darksites.” Here is where you might find someone selling
serotonin-enhancing pills by the bagful or ounces of white powder; where you might find
hackers for hire or someone to chat with you about your strange predilection for drinking
your own blood by the wine glass. As we said, the dark web might not be as demonic
as movies or some politicians depict, but you can read stories in the British press
about how the young generation now buy their illicit substances there more than in the
street these days, or how some people were arrested by the FBI for distributing images
that 99.9 percent of viewers would find disturbing. Ok, you get the picture, but now you must
be thinking, if this stuff goes on why would anyone in their right mind have created it
in the first place? Well, to answer that we must look to the U.S.
military. Let’s remember that the Internet itself
was a by-product of military technologies, as was much of the technology we take for
granted today. It was in the mid-1990s that the U.S. wanted
their intelligence operatives to have a place, a virtual place, where they could communicate
with total anonymity. They started working on something called TOR,
an acronym that stands for The Onion Router. But why give this to the people? Wasn’t that just madness? According to the BBC the military did this
because if more people were using it then it would be harder to spot the activity of
operatives among all the other noise. Foreign Policy dives even deeper into the
history of the dark web, and here we will summarize. In 1969 a student at the University of California
sent a message between computers connected by ARPANET. This was the beginning of the web as we know
it, and it was developed by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In the next few years more computers started
connecting with each other on secret networks, and these were sometimes called “darknets.” This might not sound like much to you, but
it was a breakthrough in secret communications. Then we see the Internet explode in the ensuing
decades, only part of this Internet is a haven for illegal activity. In the 1990s we saw a lot of illegal file
sharing, and we are told this set off a tsunami of darknet activity. The people sharing the files were using data
havens that couldn’t be shut down by the authorities. So even before the dark web as we know it
today, there was still a hidden part of the Internet. Then in March 2000, we saw the release of
something called Freenet. This was a place you could access with anonymity
and get your hands on files, legal or illegal. “Freenet is a near-perfect anarchy,” the
Irish creator proudly told the New York Times. You see, it wasn’t all about sharing and
distributing dodgy content, but some people felt that there should be a place in the Internet
free from censorship and the prying eyes of the government. What we are trying to say is that long before
Tor, people were trying to create room in the internet where people could operate without
being surveilled. Then in 2002 we got Tor to protect those American
operatives, but it only took a few years for sites accessible through Tor to become filled
with copyrighted material from Hollywood movies to versions of Microsoft Office. It became a trading ground for illicit material,
and people loved it because they could go there with the assurance that they wouldn’t
get arrested. Imagine buying stolen goods on the streets
but having the super power to become invisible! Things heated up in 2009 when a guy that called
himself Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first Bitcoin, a virtual currency that was untraceable. Now you can launder cash, spend your Bitcoin,
inside the dark net. It was a marriage made in heaven. In 2011 we saw the first modern dark net marketplace
in the Silk Road, named after ancient trading routes in Asia. There you could find an array of legal and
illegal goods and services, but it only lasted short of two years and the creator was eventually
sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. But as Wired pointed out in 2015, it’s not
as if everyone using Tor is accessing the dark web. In fact, the number is quite small, and though
you can find illegal things there, you can also find them on the regular web. Most people sharing illegal images or videos
use the normal web, not the dark web. According to Wired, whose writer researched
the dark web for a number of years, yes you can find depravity there, but it’s also
full of doctors giving advice they might not give out in the open. It’s a place where people can talk and not
worry about their careers, where others can talk about a disease they have that they dare
not talk about out in the open, and as we said, it’s used by a lot of people who need
to discuss issues in a country that would likely lock them up for discussing those issues. This includes some people inside the USA who
would rather not have their words watched. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden famously
said that the government was working hard to anonymize Tor users, but it wasn’t always
successful. We also know that the FBI has had some success
finding criminal activity there, but these are usually sting operations, not just pin-pointing
a person after a share or sale. We say this because some of you might be asking
why the government hasn’t gone to greater lengths to close this all down. There are many reasons, but one is that it
is still useful in terms of the greater good. Two is that the governments of the world have
shown that when things get murky in the dark web then authorities will swoop. It is not impenetrable; you might have some
anonymity, but you are not a ghost, you are merely wearing a sheet over your head. The U.S. government supports the dark web
and funds it, because as we said, it is useful. At the same time, it’s not easy to take
down a decentralized network. There isn’t an off switch. This network is spread across the globe and
protected by strong cryptography. It’s almost like ether, or a living, breathing
entity whose plexus of veins are threaded throughout the world. You might also ask yourself what would happen
if somehow Tor wasn’t available, if somehow part of the dark web was blacked out? Would the darkness all disappear? No, it wouldn’t, it would appear somewhere
else. The government has shut down dark net sites,
and righty so, but more will just pop up. The government could try and get rid of the
Tor browser, but as we said, it has no reason for doing this. China actually has been successful in blocking
the Tor browser, but other governments have failed. This is what Motherboard says about blocking
the browser, “Governments can block access to VPN services by blocking access from IP
addresses linked to VPN providers. Blocking Tor is more complex, and requires
identifying and blocking the destination nodes traffic travels through rather than the URL
or IP address.” Most other governments that allow, more or
less, free speech, agree that of the 2.5 million Tor users very few of them are doing nefarious
things in the dark web. Believe it or not, sellers in the dark web
agreed in 2018 to stop selling the powerful and deadly opioid Fentanyl. Many operators agreed that it was just too
dangerous, and perhaps they also knew that it would no doubt bring unwanted attention
to their market places. In conclusion, the dark web like any street
in any town does contain some rather unethical people, but for the most part what you see
there are just innocent folks protecting their identity. It would be crazy for any government to try
and close the entire park just because some guys sell their substances there at night
right at the back corner, but if things get too bad you can be assured someone will go
after them. Meanwhile, the rest of the people that use
this park for late night anonymous chats can do so without harassment. However the Dark Web started, it’s here
to stay- which means that you better have some serious protection against anyone who’s
looking to exploit it for nefarious purposes. No need to worry though, because Dashlane’s
the one and only tool you need to not just keep your personal info and digital accounts
safe and secure, but their Dark Web monitoring services will immediately notify you if it
finds any personal information for sale on an online marketplace, so you can take steps
to protect yourself right away! Don’t be like millions of victims every
day, get Dashlane and keep your digital life secure right now! Head on over to www.dashlane.com/infographics
for a free 30 day trial, and if you use the coupon code ‘infographics’ you can get
10% off a premium subscription today! Do you agree with this? Tell us in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our other show
Why You Should Never Visit The Dark Web. Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time.

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