Internet

Dark Web Services: What’s On Offer?

By Sydney Butler / February 1, 2019

The Dark Web is a collection of sites and resources that are deliberately hidden. Most Dark Web sites make use of a technology known as Tor Hidden Services. Powerful encryption and a network of volunteers make it virtually impossible to find anyone's real identity when they access a site using Tor.

With almost guaranteed identity protection and anonymous payment methods such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it was inevitable that some questionable services could be offered. These are some of the most prevalent Dark Web services out there.

Bitcoin Tumblers

Hacker holding handful of BItcoin

The first service is actually quite an important one. You see, it turns out that Bitcoin is not quite as anonymous as people at first thought. The public ledger it uses, combined with various surveillance methods, means that in some cases specific transaction can be traced back to specific individuals.

A Bitcoin tumbler is an online service that takes your Bitcoin and mixes it thoroughly with those of others. Making it almost impossible to determine the provenance of the coins you end up spending.

Newer currencies such as Monero don't need this, but Bitcoin is still the most popular crypto coin around, so tumblers will keep existing for a while yet.

Black Markets

Credit Card

This is the big media bogeyman. "Darknet" markets popped up on Tor hidden services once all the technology was ready for it. Here you can buy drugs, guns and just about anything else you can imagine.

Darknet markets are both surprisingly hard to squash and surprisingly effective. Believe it or not, plenty of contraband is simply sent through services like the US postal service.

How much money changes hands on Darknet markets? In 2017 the figure peaked at a whopping $707m and in 2018 the figure was a bit lower at $606m. While authorities manage to occasionally take down Darknet markets that get too big, there are always new ones to take their place.

Hacking Services

How US Authorities Tracked North Korean WannaCry Hacker

The hackers that the media so loves to report on have made a good home for themselves on the Dark Web. Here they boast and trade information, but it is also where they sell their services. For the right price, you can make use of their technical expertise. Of course, it's up to you whether that expertise is aimed at a legal purpose or not. Regardless, anyone engaging with hackers has to tread very carefully. No one is who they seem on the Dark Web.

Stolen Information

Speaking of hackers, another way that they make money is by stealing information by breaking into computer systems. This can include things like credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and even confidential records. In many cases, they'll sell to the highest bidder, although one can never be sure that the information is authentic.

Taboo or Illegal Content

Data from Old Breaches Used in Sextortion Scam

Most of the Western world at least is pretty laid back about content that would have made people turn white a few decades ago. Now you can easily get pornographic material and watch R-rated films whenever you want.

However, there is still plenty of content that's illegal and often for good reason. Unfortunately, there's a market for pornography on the Dark Web and the protection of identities means this is how it gets spread.

Apart from that particularly distasteful type of content, it's also a place where people share knowledge and ideas that may be deemed harmful by some governments. How to make weapons and explosives is one such example. Obviously, if you are found simply in possession of illegal information or content, you could be in a lot of trouble.

Totally Legal Services

It's not all bad though. There's innocent value in anonymity and plenty of people have taken advantage of the Dark Web for uses that are not legal at all. We documented those legal Dark Web Services in its own article and they are fascinating. Although that doesn't mean you have to let your curiosity get the better of you.

Masked Services

I'm sure there's a whole list of obscure services on the Dark Web that we didn't include in this list. There are also rumored services that have no proof of existence. Such as hitman services and snuff films.

What we do know is that the Dark Web is a scary and intriguing place all at once. Who knows how long it will still exist, but while it does it feels that at least one small corner of the web isn't under the control of some big, faceless entity.

Would you ever make use of a Dark Web service? Have you? We'd love to hear from you. If you liked this article please share it with your friends. Don't forget that you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!



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