The Dark Web

by Saul Figueroa

 

The internet: a place where you can communicate with friends, view things that are happening around the world, watch videos, and more. You think that only you can see what’s on your screen; that your privacy is of no concern. You think that no one can see through your camera or hear you through your microphone, but you’re not the only one who has access to these utilities. Nothing is anonymous on the internet unless you decide to venture into the dark web.

               

Also known as the dark net, the dark web is a zone on the internet where you cannot be traced. Anonymity and privacy are yours. Beware, as this is the hotspot for criminal activity. While not everybody on the dark net is a criminal, hackers and government officials roam around the dark net too.

               

What does the dark net provide? While you can still be tracked on the dark web, it’s much harder to do so, and sometimes even impossible. This is the reason why it’s used; the dark net is a political safe haven, especially for those who live in places where speech is prohibited. Journalists from around the world often use the dark net, considering that the internet use in their countries is constantly being monitored by the government.

               

Most dark net users follow a few rules to maximize their level privacy. For starters, they always cover their cameras with black tape and muffle their microphones with tape. Many people, including hackers and the government, possess the ability to access and even activate these utilities, allowing them to listen and watch dark net users if they don’t take these precautions. According to nytimes.com, even Mark Zuckerburg, creator of Facebook, covers his laptop camera and microphone with tape.

               

As it often does, anonymity attracts crime. Multiple markets are up and running, selling drugs, weapons, credit card information, hitmen, child pornography, and more. The currency used on the dark net is known as bitcoin, a digital currency that allows you to make anonymous purchases. Silk Road was one of these markets, but was shut down by the government on November 6th, 2014. The creator, Ross Ulbricht was caught and, according to wired.com, was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The consequences are severe and unforgiving for participants committing any of these acts.

               

Not all sites on the dark net are safe. Scandals and cheats hide behind ‘legitimate’ downloads, and give people viruses. Markets, as previously stated, are not good places to visit. Other kinds of sites include hidden wikis, forums, online libraries, confession sites and more. These sites are okay for dark net users to visit as long as they are sure that they work.

               

The majority of dark web participants never change the settings unless they are confident that they know what they are doing. According to security.stackexchange.com, even small details like these will point out your location. The same goes for changing the display size of the browser. The reason being that this will make users distinguished by others by the smallest details, such as your screen resolution. Using the default resolution size will help you to blend into the other users.

 

                Most people never download anything on the dark net. There are scams hanging around the dark web, so they will most likely just have their money taken. The second reason for this precaution is because their locations can be leaked.

 

                Another layer of protection is to turn off JavaScript. This is step isn’t completely necessary, and it may not even do anything except for making user’s pages less responsive.

 

                The dark net hosts a very important feature that is almost impossible to get today: internet anonymity. Journalists, whistle blowers, and political bloggers use the dark net as a safe haven for their identities. Be careful on the internet, dark web or not, because you’re not the only one on there.