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IT leader’s guide to the Dark Web

Originally Published:
Jan 2017

The Dark Web is a double-edged sword, enabling both bad and good actors to work anonymously. Criminals use it to sell stolen data, drugs, and weapons. Facebook, ProPublica, and the UN use it to protect dissidents and journalists. This ebook offers a detailed look at the realities of the Dark Web.

From the ebook:

The Dark Web is a network of websites and servers that use encryption to obscure traffic. Dark Web sites require the .onion top level domain, use non-memorable URL strings, and can be accessed only by using the open source, security-focused Tor browser. Because it’s portable and disposable, Tails, a Linux-based operating system that boots from a flash drive, adds a layer of security to Deep Web activity.

The tools required to access Dark Web sites help protect user—and server—anonymity. So in the past decade the Dark Web has become a magnet for criminal activity. The Silk Road, an eBay-like market for drugs and weapons, famously helped establish the market for peer-to-peer anonymous criminal commerce. The site grabbed mainstream headlines in 2013 when it was taken down by the FBI. In its place rose a number of copycat markets. The negative press, coupled with YouTube horror stories, glued the Dark Web’s reputation to illicit behavior. Today, the Dark Web markets sell drugs, weapons, malicious software, and piles of consumer and sensitive corporate data.

But the Dark Web is not all bad news. ProPublica, a well-respected investigative news organization, has a Dark Web site to help the company securely communicate with sources. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime monitors the Dark Web and shares data with the public and global police organizations. Even Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has a Dark Web site relied on by more than one million users per month.

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