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Why Should You Fear the Big, Bad Dark Web? Because It’s a Cybercrime Playground

We have all heard the term “dark web”, but what is it that hides behind that shroud of mystery? Why is it synonymous with cybercrime and money laundering? Let’s take a quick look at the dark web and why you should avoid it

The dark web consists of systems on the internet designed for communicating or sharing information securely and anonymously. It’s not something like Facebook® that’s run by a single organization.

At 30,000 feet, the internet is broken into three segments:

  • Surface web: Public sites we’re used to visiting — shopping sites, news articles, etc.
  • Deep web: Private sites comprised of giant databases — company websites, member-only sites and typical everyday stuff that makes up about 90% of what’s on the internet.
  • Dark web: Generally made up of sites pertaining to political unrest, illegal or illicit information, or shopping sites for bad guys.

Who uses the dark web?

Criminals love the anonymity of using the dark web. Most sites require bitcoin payments for information like Social Security numbers, account numbers and other personal information.

It’s important to note that sites on the dark web aren’t inherently bad; their creators might just prefer the privacy provided by the dark web. Journalists, whistleblowers, and privacy-minded people use the dark web to increase their anonymity and bypass censorship.

How does it work?

When you visit a website, your computer tells the site you’re visiting which browser you’re using (Google™ Chrome™, Mozilla™ Firefox™, Microsoft™ Bing™, etc.). Sites on the dark web won’t respond to requests from these traditional, well-known browsers. They’ll only respond to requests from what’s known as an anonymizing browser, like Mozilla™ Tor.

Tor, short for ‘The Onion Router', was initially developed and solely used by the Navy to censor government communications before the network was made available to the public.

Anonymizing browsers mask the identity and location of the person accessing the site. Additionally, users generally use a virtual private network (VPN) like what you may be using to access your institution’s network from home. Combining an anonymizing browser and VPN make the criminal’s footprints incredibly hard to track.

Staying safe from cybercrime

The dark web can be an extremely risky place. We highly recommend staying away to keep your computer and personal information safe. For the bad guys, this is a cybercrime playground where personal scams are created and executed, including money-grabbing scams.

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