Maybe it’s just a case of general boredom. It could be genuine curiosity. Then again, there are some people looking to get into a bit of mischief when buying or selling goods on the dark web.
The surface web, which can be indexed by popular search engine crawlers, is the exact opposite of what can be found on the dark web. The dark web relies on TOR, Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet, or some other system to operate with little intrusion.
Not surprisingly, as more people tend to end up on the dark web, there is an uptick in illegal behavior, though many people end up just browsing the dark web without actually posting or interacting very much. That aside, the dark web consists of a large number of rather unscrupulous people with ulterior motives, including trying to scam and steal from gullible victims. Ironically enough, very little of the dark web actually is focused on illegal behavior, but those specific resources tend to just get most of the attention.
To access the dark web, a person interested must use something like the Tor browser, which uses a complex overlay network of relays to help keep location and activity hidden from any prying eyes. The US Naval Research Laboratory helped design the original Tor network, and the US State Department is still responsible for partially funding the project.
The Silk Road online marketplace, created by Ross Ulbricht, helped introduce many people to the dark web in a rather casual way. Silk Road made it possible to easily purchase narcotics, weapons, and many other illicit things, with customers typically paying using the bitcoin cryptocurrency.
Scams Aplenty on the Dark Web
Criminals operating on the dark web also are skilled at adjusting their behaviors based on current trends. Fraudsters are able to feed on people’s general anxiety, and will laugh all the way to the bank when they’re done. The Covid-19 pandemic greatly impacted how people across the world live our lives, and that was the perfect storm for scammers on the Internet.
Cybersecurity researchers have noticed a recent uptick in counterfeit vaccines being listed for sale on the dark web, with health officials strongly urging citizens to avoid making a purchase. Vendors on the dark web are selling their purported Covid-19 vaccines for prices across the board, with counterfeits easily found for prices starting at $200 (not surprisingly, bitcoin is the only commonly accepted form of payment).
CloudSEK published a rather amusing transcript of their communication with some scammers on the dark web claiming they have Covid-19 vaccines available for sale in exchange for bitcoins. Not surprisingly, it’s quite easy to download some type of malware or digital solution to compromise others. Of course, a reckless user also runs the risk of potentially falling victim if not careful when trying to purchase something suspicious on the dark web.
Making Sense of the Dark Web
Finding ways for proper dark web monitoring is important to help companies keep control of stolen data, identify where it is on the dark web, and decide on next steps. Even though the dark web is secure and anonymous, monitoring tools are able to scan underground forums where stolen data like identities and credit card information are found.
Large data breaches often include millions of compromised records, stolen from retailers, credit card companies, and other normally trusted vendors. If a person is looking for something illegal, then it probably can be found someplace on the dark web. Personal information, identities, passport numbers, Social Security Numbers, medical records, and similar protected information is readily available on the dark web.
Dark web scanners are able to also help consumers to identify if their personal information has been compromised – and shared on the dark web – and where it can be found. More people are finding their way to the dark web, for whatever reason, and there is no shortage of activities – some legal, others not – available on the dark web. Unfortunately, it’s not a difficult task to begin finding stolen identities, personally identifiable information (PII) and other similar data in the underground forums.
Overall, the dark web isn’t illegal, and anyone is able to access it with very little trouble. Internet users shouldn’t necessarily be afraid to visit the dark web, and there are legitimate uses to seek the enhanced privacy and security, but it clearly isn’t for everyone. If you decide to casually browse the dark web, then be careful and take necessary precautions to keep yourself safe and secure.
The dark web isn’t going to suddenly vanish, and will likely only get more users trying to find hiding spots away from prying eyes. It’s a fine-line between seeking freedom of speech with privacy, and complete anonymity – but who gets to decide how much is too much?