Peeling back the layers of the 'Dark Web'

Peeling back the layers of the 'Dark Web'

Print
Email
|

by DIANNE GALLAGHER / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianneG

WCNC.com

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 12:46 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 20 at 5:31 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Most people, no matter how many hours each day they spend on the internet, will never see more than about five percent of the web.

Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker sat down with NBC Charlotte to peel back some of the mystery surrounding the deepest and darkest corners of the web.

"You can't Google and find this stuff," explained Swecker.  "There are some very sad and seedy uses of the dark web.  Human trafficking takes place.  Children are exploited.  There is someone ready to murder for hire.  Any drug or illegal good you could ever want is available for the right price."

A quick search reveals human beings, exotic animals, drugs, weapons and illegal services all being sold for the right price.

The average person cannot access these online marketplaces of illegal activity by using a simple search engine like Google.  Most sites require software like The Onion Router, or TOR, which makes it difficult to track who a person is and from where they are logging on.

Swecker said nearly every person's personal information is floating around on the dark web, just waiting for the right buyer or trader to make an offer.

"It's a virtual marketplace for crime," said Swecker.  "And that's how it started, with credit card and personal information fraud.  They sell the credit card information by the hundreds.  That's how you are impacted.  Your personal information is facilitating this dark, criminal environment."

Swecker added that Bitcoin - the legitimate, virtual currency of the online world -makes it even tougher to catch the people who buy and sell illegal items online because it is rooted in anonymity.

The FBI has infiltrated and busted dark web marketplaces but Swecker admitted it's kind of like "playing a game of whack-a-mole.  You take one down, two more pop back up."

There are extremely valuable uses for the deep web as well.  Most of what is happening in this censorship-free world is not dark and sinister.  Political dissidents, academics, corporate whistleblowers and people fighting for internet freedom in their own countries use this secret web to have confidential conversations.

Modern revolutions can be traced to the dark web and some hackers even take out criminal marketplaces - especially those dealing child porn - themselves, without any law enforcement assistance.

 

Print
Email
|