deepwebOne of my passion areas in technology is computer security so when I attended one of the TechEd sessions by Andy Malone I was surprised that I had never heard of “the dark web” before. I wondered if I was the only one who hadn’t heard about this of the many people I have since asked I have only found two who already knew about this hidden “dark web”, or aka “dark net” or aka “deep web”.  I had even asked a law enforcement friend who works computer crimes and he had not heard of this before.

This underground network is built on the Tor Network, which is an online anonymizing technology designed by the U.S. Navy and released by the U.S. Government to provide secure anonymous communications to help freedom fighters in other countries avoid detection by tyrannical regimes. I have known about Tor for a long time. What I didn’t realize is that Tor has a hidden services feature that enable you put up a web site and take a .onion DNS name and now you have a untraceable website. This works with any server type service like instant messaging. You can see the value here where you can put up a site where it is very difficult to find the owner or shut it down. This “dark net” is a shadow internet where people can do what they please with little fear of being tracked down and identified. Activists in oppressive regimes use the dark net, but so do drug dealers, gun dealers and pedophiles. I have always said that the internet is not anonymous and everything is logged. It is just a matter of how badly someone wants to track you down. Well the Tor network does make that a whole lot harder if not currently impossible.

That is not to say you can use this network and you won’t get caught by law enforcement or gangsters. I have been warned that the criminals on here are the real thing and you literally take your life into your own hands connecting with them. Also the FBI did take down a group called the “Farmer’s Market” last year. See this article at the Huffington post for more on this:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/international-online-drug-market-busted-arrests_n_1429544.html

This article shows that you can get caught; however, another drug site called “the Silk Road” remains available on the “dark web”. For information on the Silk Road see this article at Gizmodo:
http://gizmodo.com/5805928/the-underground-website-where-you-can-buy-any-drug-imaginable

Another word of caution. If you do browse this hidden web you may want to do it from a Virtual Machine or something you don’t mind if it gets owned by hackers. Andy Malone stated that the hackers on here make the guys on the regular internet seem like script kiddies. He suggested to turn off java script in your browser if you dare to venture here.

Another well known “dark net” web site is the hidden wiki where you can find all kinds of bad things. In Andy Malone’s Cybercrime presentation below he details how to find the hidden wiki. It is interesting because the URL changes all the time.  Another safe place to learn more about the hidden wiki and the secret “dark network” is at the regular internet site with the name http://www.hiddenwiki.org/.

Be sure to watch the exposes by the Channel 4 News and the BBC

Lastly if you are interested in these security topics, you can watch the full presentations by Andy Malone from TechEd 2013.

Hopefully you found this informative and interesting. If you do venture to the dark web please be safe. It’s a good idea to use a fake name and wear a virtual machine. Smile

More interesting links:
http://www.thehiddenwiki.net/
http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/blackhat-lounge/473818-how-access-hidden-wiki.html
http://thebotnet.com/guides-and-tutorials/49828-how-to-access-the-hidden-wiki/

** This post is part of the TechEd 2013 Favorites Series – the full list is available here:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinremde/archive/2013/06/05/teched-2013-favorites-the-complete-series.aspx