The Dangers Of The Deep Web: Where Illegal Activity Hides Online - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

The Dangers Of The Deep Web: Where Illegal Activity Hides Online

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WMDT 47 NEWS – When some people think of illegal activity on the Internet, the term "Silk Road" often comes to mind.

It was an online marketplace where people bought and sold illegal goods, including drugs, for more than two and a half years, but the alleged mastermind behind the operation was finally caught in October.

However, the Silk Road was just a small portion of a nether region of the Internet called the "Deep Web." The underground Internet is home to a collection of websites and databases that do not show up on ordinary search engines like Google.

"It's nothing like the Internet that we are used to that we use every day, it's completely different," says Barry Krehnbrink Jr., a service dispatcher with IMPACT Technology.

Users can gain access to the deep web through a private network, "Tor," which lets the user remain completely anonymous. Tor was originally created by the government for a various safety purposes, including police investigations, but now, it has become an ideal venue for unlawful activity.

"You can get into child pornography, gambling, drug trafficking, things of that nature," says Krehnbrink.

"Hit men, drugs, anything illegal pretty much," says Chris Woodward, service technician at IMPACT Technology. "They've created an environment that crime can exist in safely. I don't think that was their original intention at all."

Woodward says people in other countries that have major restrictions over Internet use often use Tor.

"Tor provides a way that they can circumvent their countries laws, whether it is for good or for bad," says Woodward. "It's a way that they can access the same freedom of information that we have access to here in the United States."

Both Woodward and Krehnbrink say that accessing Tor only takes a few simple searches and a free download, but even if a user has good intentions, it is not worth the risk.

"You can get yourself into a lot of trouble," says Krehnbrink. "You can be tagged by hackers and they can find out who you are, where you live, steal your bank account information, and just really tear your life apart."

The F-B-I and other agencies are reportedly spending millions to crack down on the illegal activity, but with the exact size and scope still unknown, finding a solution is a daunting task.

Woodward says there is evidence that the Russian mafia operates on a level that is even deeper than Tor, which requires users to modify their computer hardware to even access it.

"It gives them control of the world's largest bot army," says Woodward. "They can actually control a whole fleet of computers around the world to attack sites and do stuff that they want to, including extorting money."

The illegal activity on Tor is just one example of what people are capable of doing behind a computer screen, which is why Woodward suggests that users should "assume the worst" when it comes to the Internet.

"There's no home firewall that can protect you from anybody that knows slightly what they are doing, so if you have something on your hard drive or if it's on your computer you have to assume that it's available to anybody," says Woodward. "It's not as secure as people think it is, so they should be mindful about where they go and what they keep and say online."

"Just be smart," says Krehnbrink. "When it comes to the deep web, I would just stay away from it, period."

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