Chances are you have heard of the term “dark web” and you may be curious and even a little concerned.
The anonymous, virtually untraceable nature of this hidden area of the internet makes it ripe for illegal activity.
The dark web is full of illegal activity and deviant images, but experts say there’s a bright side.
When you surf the internet, you’re just scratching the surface.
“Only about 5 percent of the internet is actually indexed by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing,” said Justin Yapp, a PhD student studying cyber security.
The other 95 percent is the “deep web,” with most of the internet unreachable for search engines.
The dark web is an even smaller and more hidden chunk.
“It sounds scary,” said Victoria Cobb of Dayton. “I have no idea what it means, but it sounds scary.”
The dark web requires special software — like Tor, which stands for “the onion router.”
“The Tor network provides unmatched anonymity and privacy,” said Yapp.
The name comes from the layers of encryption, which are like the layers of an onion. The information bounces from computer to computer around the world, peeling off encrypted layers until it reaches its destination.
It’s anonymous and virtually untraceable — even for law enforcement.
“There’s a lot of illegal activity that goes on,” Yapp said.
The dark web is notorious for drugs, weapons, child porn and for selling stolen personal information.
But it’s not all seedy activity.
“There’s a lot of countries that block social media,” Yapp said.
Even journalists working to spread content in countries where information is restricted, like China, use the dark web.
“I would not recommend anybody go and try it unless they know what they’re doing,” Yapp said.