ISSUE:  The Dark Web can be accessed by anyone

The Dark Web is a part of the Internet and has been for over 20 years.  For most of that time it was something that most of us wouldn’t interact with.  Today more Internet users are finding their way to this area.

The “Dark Web” is a term that refers to “underground” websites where there are no rules.  Anything goes. You can hire a hitman on an “Amazon style” website. You can purchase drugs, guns, stolen identification, credit card numbers – anything you can think of.  Payments are made using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, so they remain anonymous.

Use of the Dark Web can be dangerous and very risky.


The Dark Web is not accessible through the web browsers we all use.  You have to get special software and know where to go. Downloading a Dark Web browser is catching the eyes of law enforcement and that alone may get you tracked.

The term Dark Web was coined and got its start in March of 2000 with the release of Freenet.  Freenet still exists today. While it wasn’t the intention of this service to create this type of environment, it offered a censorship resistant way to use the web.   This lead to a data haven called HavenCo in Sealand. Sealand is an old war bunker which is outside of the jurisdiction of any government. It contains a data center where material normally illegal can be stored and shared to the Internet.  HavenCo ran about eight years and was considered dead around 2010. This was mainly due to the fact that at that time transfer of currency still required real world connections.

The biggest contributor to the Dark Web occured in 2002.  At this time the TOR browser was released which allows for anonymous access to Internet sites.  This technology was created by none other than the United States government. The Dark Web of today most likely wouldn’t exist without this technology.

The final piece of the puzzle came in the late 2000’s with the introduction of cryptocurrency in the form of Bitcoin.   With Bitcoin it would be possible to pay anonymously for anything.

With the existence of Tor and cryptocurrency the first modern black markets were created.

In addition to illegal purchases, the Dark Web is being used by terrorists to communicate and coordinate.

Due to the nature of the way the Internet works it is very difficult to block Dark Web transactions.  As we move into the future, authorities are starting to be able to trace cryptocurrency. While this is still in its infancy removing the anonymous payment factor could work to reign in many of these shady transactions.

William (Bill) Sikkens has been an on-air technology expert since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler, who along with Jeremy Winkler are the co-hosts of User Friendly 2.0 here on The Answer Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

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