The dark web may seem like a word you should only say in the dark of night, behind closed doors, but is it really that bad? Yes and no. To some, the dark web is a bad place beyond the internet, a flea market for criminals if you will. Instead of finding handmade jewelry and dusty vinyl records, you’ll find illegal drugs, social security cards, and counterfeit money for sale, usually at a relatively low price.¹ Surprisingly, not everyone on the dark web is a malicious criminal. Sometimes, the dark web is a person’s only access to the outside world.² People who live in a closed society like North Korea, whose internet is extremely limited and censored,³ use the dark web to give and receive information without consequence. It’s not all black and white though. If you wanted to, you could go to the dark web without being a criminal or a desperate hostage. There isn’t any penalty for just being on the dark web,¹ however take extreme caution when doing so, as one wrong move, one slip up, and you can end up on the wrong site and expose your identity to the wrong person.
What is the Dark Web Exactly?
The dark web in simple terms is a part of the internet that isn’t indexed by search engines.¹ What does it mean to not be indexed by search engines? Basically, it’s a part of the internet that search engines don’t go to or collect information about, which means you can’t search for the things you find there with Google or Bing. It’s essentially a online black market. You can buy drugs, guns, stolen information, bank accounts, counterfeit money, hit men, and other unmentionable things.
So, how do you get to the dark web if you can’t search for it? Darren, a contributor for CSO.com explains it well: “Accessing the dark web requires the use of an anonymizing browser called Tor. The Tor browser routes your web page requests through a series of proxy servers operated by thousands of volunteers around the globe, rendering your IP address unidentifiable and untraceable. Tor works like magic, but the result is an experience that’s like the dark web itself: unpredictable, unreliable and maddeningly slow.”¹
Dark Web vs Deep Web
You may have heard the terms dark web and deep web used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. The deep web refers to all web pages that search engines cannot find. Thus the deep web includes the dark web, but also includes all user databases, webmail pages, registration-required web forums, and pages behind paywalls. There are huge numbers of such pages, and most exist for mundane reasons.²
Why Should I Care About the Dark Web?
You may be thinking, “Why does this matter to me? I’m not a criminal!” Well, no you may not be a criminal, but you are a functioning member of society with various internet accounts, bank accounts, and a social security number. Besides the slew of drug deals and weapon exchanges going on in the dark web that don’t affect you, there are credential exchanges ala data breaches. Every time you hear of companies like Dunkin’ and Marriott having data breaches of millions of records, they all go to the dark web to be sold and used, and if you are one of those breached records, then the dark web matters to you.
If you’d like to know if your email has been involved in a breach, you can check out haveibeenpwned.com.
Baroan Technologies offers a monthly subscription to a service that will proactively scan the dark web available stolen credentials for your company email domains, to see if they are any lists for sale. This is done every 24 hours and will notify you if any are found. This will help to identify potential compromised accounts and allow you to take action quickly before the damage is done and it is too late to fix easily. If you would like to get more information please contact us about this service.
Disclaimer: This post is in no way an encouragement to go on the dark web and engage in illegal activity. If you do decide to snoop around, do some more research and use common sense. You will come across the sites that you hear about in gossip articles. Be a safe searcher and use caution.