dark web

What Is the Dark Web?

Protus3 Computer Forensics


dark webI am not a computer techie, just an average computer, smart phone, and iPad user. I use the Internet for email, word searches, research, and of course the occasional shopping experience. Have you ever wondered: what is the Dark Web? I must admit I am a bit curious. Could it be that bad to just Google the words “Dark Web” and click? What will happen? Am I suddenly on some watch list? Can it make me more at risk for a virus or hackers? Will I be at a greater risk for identity theft?

The computer techies break the web up into parts. The “surface web” is where most of us in business and in our personal lives do email, word searches, and shopping. The one I am curious about is the “dark web”, so I involved Rusty Gilmore, the resident computer techie at Protus3.

Rusty gave me a mini tutorial of the dark web, which included how to access the dark web and do word searches. Accessing the dark web requires anonymizing software. This software makes it impossible to trace your IP address. So while we are sitting in the office in Raleigh it appears we are from another state or country (we just happened to pick Texas).

Next you need a special search engine. These are not Google searches. The searches on the dark web are not easy; the search engines do not recognize “key words” like in a Google search. Most of the websites no longer exist. I am sure there are many reasons why the websites were not accessible – if you are doing something illegal you want to keep moving. Maybe they have been shut down.

With all the information in the news on credit hacks, we focused our search on a website that might sell credit information. After a number of tries we found them, multiple web sites selling credit card information. We found one that was selling PayPal accounts with a guarantee of 20% working. Wow – the dark web comes with guarantees. I wonder how you get your money back from someone who stole the information to begin with, but maybe that’s another blog.

Nothing we saw or found on the dark web was good. From the beginning you could tell that the dark web is where criminals go to play. This is where the hackers share ideas and sell your personal information.

From talking to Rusty I learned a few things like “just don’t go there”. The dark web and the people who hang out there are opportunists and are just waiting for some unsuspecting curious person to make one wrong click. So the answer to my question was yes, clicking on the dark web will put you and your company at risk.

Some good advice from Rusty Gilmore:

  • Frequently change your passwords and make them complex. Not “password”, not “1234”, not your birthday, and not your children’s names or even pets’ names.
  • Check your bank accounts credit cards and PayPal frequently for unauthorized charges.
  • Best advice is just use common sense when on the web and email.

For the record, after the tutorial Rusty ran a scan for viruses on the computer we used for this dark web experiment. I sure am glad Protus3 has a computer techie like Rusty; he definitely has our back.


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