The Internet has started to make people create their own virtual realities. Why is this? Because whatever you do or think of in your own time, helps you shape your reality. It does not really matter if you go out and enjoy the sun or browse Google.  Most of us are thankful to the World Wide Web for making our lives easier and our reality fuller. We feel now that any piece of information is just one click away. By having a computer with the Internet connection, we seem to rule this incredibly vast kingdom of information. However, how naive would we feel when we learn that actually just roughly 1 to 5% of the Internet is available on Google?

Your question might be: “Then what and where is the rest?”. For those of you, who are not able to answer this question, I believe this article is worth reading.

The Internet can be compared to an iceberg. The top of it, the visible part, is referred to as “the surface web”. It contains all public information, accessible to anybody, with a use of a search engine. However, not everything that exists on the Internet can be found that way. For example, you are aware that although you can check your own e-mail, messages and accounts online, the others do not have access to them. The hidden part of the Internet is the so-called “deep web”: it includes all kinds of databases and legal research platforms. As you cannot find the details of, for instance, your bank account on Google, you can consider the deep web part of the iceberg’s bottom: “the dark web”.  The dark web is the virtual space of the Internet where information is encrypted. It cannot be accessed by using common browsers and the links to websites do not have a classic format. But most importantly, the dark web represents the anonymous part of the World Wide Web, where the location and details of a person are almost impossible to trace down.

Originally developed by the U.S Navy’s research laboratory, with the purpose of facilitating communication between governments, nowadays, a large share of the dark web mainly serves as a wide drugs and guns online market. It is controlled by the FBI and NSA, bodies which are currently principally involved in fighting dark web child exploitation and fund-raising for terrorism.

Surprisingly, I would say, anybody is able to become active on the dark web. Tor is the most popular among the specific software that could get you surfing on the dark net.  You can think of Tor as an alternative web. It is literally its own network, where websites don’t have any domain (although .onion is pretty common) or IP addresses. From this reason, they are completely inaccessible to search engines. “Tor” is known as the “the onion router”. This is because it hides your identity by shifting your traffic throughout different Tor servers, encrypting your traffic so that it cannot be traced back to you. Nobody can see the traffic coming from your computer; the others would rather see it as coming from different nodes.

Tor software is free, really easy to install and does not need any special configuration. A lot of normal people use Tor, but its big fans can be considered journalists (especially in China), law-enforcement officers, activists, IT professionals, business executives and militaries. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, drug dealers, pedophiles, gun sellers, and not only, prove to be very active Tor users as well.

You might wonder how people can shop for guns and drugs online without being tracked down. Well, it is quite obvious that in these cases, financial transactions are not done through online banking. These people are using bitcoins in order to avoid being caught. Bitcoins are really interesting: as you already know, they are a form of digital currency, created and held in the virtual space. They are produced through “mining”, by running computers’ software in order to solve mathematical problems. The bitcoin appreciates and depreciates like any other currency. Its price spiked at in mid-2013 when one bitcoin was valuing around $1,147. Since the beginning of this year, a bitcoin is worth around $375.

The really dark side of this issue

Since it seems to be not that complicated to do, you might now be tempted to access the dark web. Well, after reading the experiences of other people who were curious to surf on it, but entered some really shady websites and developed psychological traumas, I would advise you not to!  The saying “curiosity killed the cat” proves to be true in this sense. Most shocking is that many people sustain to have witnessed horrible live human tortures, child abuse and murders. People are even talking about finding porn featuring humans and animals, or websites where animals are tortured and then killed by sexually attractive women. They discuss about a price of $400 in order to watch these. Some others confess that they have found human organs for sale and hitmen for hire. The worst part is that some people, who were brought to those websites by their own curiosity, have finally been discovered and threatened.

How intriguing is it that somebody who is really “bored” and does not mind spending half a million dollars, could easily buy the necessary equipment in order to take over a third world government through a coup d’état? There is this story of a man, who pretended to be interested in preparing a paramilitary group for overthrowing such a government. He addressed to different gun sellers in order to request weapons suitable for his aim. The answers he was given were surprising – buying a weapon seemed to be as easy as buying a candy. Bidders came with different suggestions for the guns needed and even went further, stating that they can obtain even more kinds of weapons than the ones initially presented. One would say that everything can be a joke and that the gun sellers could be offering a scam. In the end, you are lucky if you know the continent they are operating on. However, apparently these “bad” guys have a lot of reviews on their pages, fact which might incline us to think that what happens there can be true.

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The same person came across a man. who was getting tired of the business. He was putting an offer of selling his online gun business. If you want to amuse yourself, here is where I found the article.

Further on, Michael Roger, director of the NSA, raised the concern of ISIS raising funds for a new terrorist attack on the dark web. Moreover, Ido Wulkan, senior analyst for a Singapore-based technology company, which creates dark web harvesting technologies, revealed to Israeli newspaper Haaretz that his company has found a number of websites raising funds for ISIS through bitcoin donations.

With regards to privacy concerns, it is intuitive that the dark web is also used as an online place where fake identities and credit cards are sold. I know some people who are really scared about it and keep their personal details as far as possible from the online world. Some say that they are afraid to get arrested for something that somebody else has done using their ID. This is one of the examples why you should be a bit more cautious of where you share your personal information online.