Have you ever heard about the Dark web, the unseen, more terrifying side of the internet?
All the websites that you browse daily be it Facebook, YouTube, regular blogging websites, or the search engine results that appear, are part of an internet layer known as Surface Web, which only comprises 8 – 10% of the entire internet. The remaining 90% of the internet, hidden from your browser, is known as the Deep Web, also known as the Dark Web.
The Deep web is theorized to be 500% bigger than the normal web and is growing at an unquantifiable rate. This hidden portion of the internet is only accessible through special web browsers and software. Whether you need guns, drugs, fake identities, or even want to kill someone, you are welcome to the dark web, where everything is off the grid.
How to Enter the Dark Web
The easiest and quickest way to access the dark web is through an open-source, free software known as Tor. Tor’s promise of anonymity, privacy, and the possibility of non-detection is luring masses into the dark web nexus. This dark web browser has more than 2.5 million+ connected users with a bandwidth growth of 500% over the past five years, from 2014 to 2018.
Weapons and Drug Trade
Weapons are the most commonly listed item on the dark web, constituting around 42% of total listings. A study by the University of Manchester shows that 60% of these weapons come from the U.S. Guns, ammunition, explosives, whatever you need, can be delivered to your doorstep in a couple of days.
The Dark web is like an online marketplace for drugs. You can buy marijuana, cocaine, or heroin with the same ease as buying books on Amazon. The drug trade is thriving on the dark web because the dealers perceive it as safer and more lucrative than street dealing.
A Hideout for Terrorists?
The Dark web offers anonymous communication and interaction, allowing terrorist groups to disseminate their ideology and even conduct recruitments. Research by the AI Lab revealed that around 50,000 extremist dark web websites could exist. Similarly, a study by Nakita Malik also confirmed ISIS’s use of the dark web to recruit, radicalize and promulgate their propaganda, especially in the wake of the 2015 Paris attacks.
Said to be the darkest place on the internet, Red Rooms are online spaces on the dark web, where people pay through cryptocurrency to watch live-streamed murders and rapes. They are murky spots where psychopaths tune in to fulfill their fantasies. Many people contest that red rooms are just a myth because the very idea of humans stooping so low and to such inhumane levels is just so horrifying to be true. Myth or not, these spaces should be avoided at all costs. Be on the lookout for any popup on a dark web search engine.
Multiple Murderer-for-hire sites on the dark web offer target-killing services.
You can get anyone killed as long as the target is not among the top 10 politicians or a minor under 18. And you don’t have to drop off a bag of cash in an alley; bitcoins worth around $10,000 is all you need to get the execution done. Experts believe that most of these hitman networks are nothing more than a scam designed to steal money from vindictive clients.
However, there have been cases where contract killing was ordered through the darknet. According to official documents, one such incident is of a Russian Policeman, Lt Col Shishkina, who was shot dead by two teenagers hired through a dark web website.
The dark Web is a huge ecosystem for payment fraud and identity theft. Phishing, ransomware, and crypto scam are extremely common on the dark web. You can get stolen credit card details by paying as little as $1. Similarly, credentials for cryptocurrency accounts, banking and insurance records can be obtained for under $1000.
These anonymous financial frauds have become a nightmare for the finance department and cyber security experts. Of all the compromised information available on the dark web, 60% could seriously harm businesses.
Fake Documents – Counterfeit Documents
Forged passport scans, biometric selfies, valid US social security numbers, driving licenses, etc., are all available for sale on the darknet for as little as $100. In February 2022, a criminal network was busted by the French border Police, accused of distributing forged IDs, passports, and travel documents in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, via the dark web.
A study claims that nearly 80% of Dark Web traffic is to illegal porn, child sex abuse, and pornography. In 2019, the Feds took down the largest child pornography marketplace on the dark web. It contained an eight TB video stock of child sex abuse with 7,300 processed bitcoin transactions worth around $800,000.
Dark Web: Life-Threatening Games
The blue whale challenge gained popularity in 2019 when around 150 youngsters took their own lives, all in a bid to complete the challenge given on a dark web game called blue whale.
The game played on the deep-rooted insecurities and vulnerabilities of the young mind. It promised to provide them a sense of emancipation by giving them tasks to do extreme things, e.g., watching horror movies, drawing whales via blade on their arms, and eventually committing suicide.
A haven for Human Trafficking
Children make up almost 1/3rd of all human trafficking victims, and there is a large market for child trafficking on the dark web. Every 2 out of 3 children sold for sex in the U.S. are trafficked online. The anonymity allows scoundrels the breathing space to manipulate young minds and prey on them. There is a need to develop awareness about the type and scope of the deep web among law enforcement authorities and parents alike.
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