real life

Five scary things I didn't know about the dark web.

If you’re anything like me, your knowledge of the dark web consists of men wearing hoodies typing code in dark rooms when they really need to clean up their work station.

dark web
So much code, so many hoodies.

But it's a lot more than that.

The dark web (also known as the dark net or deep web) is a hub for illegal activity such as child pornography, drug trafficking and hacking such as this week's Medicare data breach, but it's also where all the really weird (and sometimes wonderful) stuff happens on the internet.

Here are five things I didn't know about the dark web (until now):

  • Anyone can access the dark net.

You don't need to be a 16-year-old boy with an advanced degree in computer science to access the dark web. Anyone with a computer and internet access can get onto the dark net by downloading The Onion Router (usually referred to as TOR).  Most dark web pros will also use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to cover their tracks on the dark web.

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So basically you can get onto it if you want to, but you'll never accidentally stumble across it and wonder where the hell you are.

  • Bitcoin is the currency of the deep web.

There's no money or credit cards in the dark web - people exchange goods and services using bitcoins.

According to Lifewire, bitcoins are basically, "electricity converted into long strings of code that have money value". So instead of paying for things with their credit cards, dark net users buy bitcoins and use them instead. Make sense (just say yes)?

  • Some really dark stuff happens on the dark web (hence the name).

As I mentioned before, the dark web is a haven for child pornographers, pedophiles, drug dealers, hackers and even murderers. Because everyone accesses the dark web does so through TOR and using a VPN, it's very difficult for law enforcement to track their activity and charge people with these crimes.

Certain parts of the dark web are not for the fainthearted. In a recent Reddit thread, Redditors shared some of the stranger things they've found on the dark web - including a comprehensive guide on how to cook women (yep, you read that right cook women, not cook for women), advertisements for hitmen, and a DIY vasectomy kit.

This woman is shutting down trolls by turning their words into cake. Post continues...

  • Some of the deep web is just nerds being nerds.

Some people just use the dark web to get their nerd on. Banned books are available on the dark web, and there's one site dedicated to cleaning up e-books and making them easier to read. Other people just sell random things like pretzels, bags of carrots, and erm, a guide to immortality.

  • Journalists in some countries use the dark net to communicate.

Journalists in heavily censored countries (cough* North Korea* cough) use the dark web to communicate and exchange information.

In fact, anyone who wants to communicate incognito is probably using the dark web (so not Donald Trump, then).

Would you ever use the dark web? 

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