Many of us are virgins when it comes to the internet. We associate the internet with “safe” sites like Amazon, eBay, Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and so on. Inside the World Wide Web, however, lies the “Dark Web”
The Dark Web has an ominous tone to it, and for good reason. This hidden part of the internet is somewhat like a dark cloud brewing high above. It’s covered by sp much white cloud “fluff” that you don’t notice it’s there until its lightning bolt strikes with a mighty force and suddenly hits you!
It is mainly for people who want to remain anonymous and untraceable to protect their identities while taking part in illegal actions. To enter this dark zone called the “Dark Web,” you need special software or authentication granted via non-traditional sources.
Most people have never heard of Tor, a software that allows you to communicate anonymously by hiding both the actual location as well as the browsing history of an internet user.
Created in 2006, the Tor Network is made up of thousands of relay nodes, located worldwide. The minute someone uses the World Wide Web via Tor, their IP address moves swiftly across a network of relays all around the world. It hides the user’s actual physical location as well as their usage history.
The software is absolutely free of charge and is able to be shared with others in its original or modified format. Its funding sources include several non-profit organizations, the US State Department, the government of Sweden, and the National Science Foundation.
Many are unaware of .onion sites. These are websites with the top-level domain (TLD) suffix .onion and are exclusively recognized by the Tor Network. Since .onion sites do not register with Domain Name Servers (DNS), like traditional domain suffixes, such as .com, .edu, .org, etc., users can remain anonymous.
Thinking Like a Cybercriminal
The great part of being a cybersecurity professional is that they put themselves into the minds of Hackers. That is how they fight crime and stay one step ahead. In essence, they are thinking like a criminal.
Penetration Testers use the same tools and resources to identify weak spots and backdoors in any given software because they are following the potential virtual footprints of a malicious hacker.
Now, obviously, if a cybercriminal is looking for ways to access and steal private credit card details from millions of people, they are not going to “Google” it. There is an element of danger here and they know if they get caught, they’ll face imprisonment; therefore, they have to be really careful. With the Dark Web, Tor, and .onion sites they will be able to access huge amounts of data, all the while hiding their identities, locations, and IP addresses.
Many banks, small businesses, and hospitals still use older operating systems like Windows 95 and XP. Hackers know this, and the trouble lies with the fact that many technology companies often stop supporting older software. These businesses, hospitals, and banks become very vulnerable to cyberattacks as newer versions are launched. Think about this: if a bank’s ATM system is still running on Windows 95, a hacker can access thousands of bank records just by finding a weak entry point. Account names and numbers, pin codes, balances, credit card details, and more, are now at the mercy of a malicious entity.
To analyze a bank’s ATM system running on legacy software, an Ethical Hacker can create a plan to find a weak spot. These professionals will often chat with other hackers on the Dark Web, and by doing this, they learn from their past activities. The great thing here is that Tor software and .onion sites make sure that these conversations are untraceable.
Officers who specialize in Narcotics use the Dark Web to pinpoint how and where drug trafficking activities occur. Now they are the ones in disguise and may pose as smugglers looking to sell a new high-end drug or launder money through international banks. By using Tor, the police task force has greater tools for investigations due to its untraceable nature.
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