The Dark Web

With recent security intrusions in credit agencies like Experian, a new phrase has entered the public consciousness: The Dark Web. The Dark Web is not new, it has been around since 1997. So what is it? The Dark Web is an encrypted network that exists between Tor servers and their clients, and exists outside the mainstream Internet. Since the Dark Web is encrypted, which makes it users anonymous, it is rife with illegal activity including pirated movies, child pornography, and illegal drug sales. There are real threats for anyone who goes there and especially for those that transact with its drug black market. In 2013, an Australian teen died after taking drugs purchased on a Dark Web drug-trafficking site called Silk Road. But there are legitimate uses too, such avoiding the eyes of totalitarian governments, investigative journalism, and sleuthing by FBI agents. It sounds like the stuff of James Bond, and may be enticing for a curious tech-savvy teen.

To get in, you need a special browser (usually Tor). If your child downloads Tor or knows other kids who are on it, it’s important to talk about the implications. The Dark Web isn’t a safe place to hang out. Here are some things to discuss:

The Dark Web is dangerous. The Dark Web has a strong criminal element. Viewing or downloading media (pornography, pirated movies, etc.) could be a crime. Many of the files on the Tor’s chatrooms and P2P clients have viruses or malicious code that can hijack your computer and turn your information over to a criminal hacker. Even “just visiting” is risky.

Be aware of the apps that your child is downloading onto their computers. If you see the Tor browser installed on their computer, then they are accessing the Dark Web.

Children are searching for information on the mainstream Internet about sex, drug experimentation, pornography, and violence. Your child’s perceptions with regards to these issues are being discussed every day online, on their social media networks. We highly recommend parents educate themselves about the places their children are going online and learn how to engage their children in the digital world.

We recommend these websites as excellent resources for parents:

www.cybersafetycop.com

www.commonsensemedia.org

www.netsmartz.org

 

Sgt. Clayton Cranford

Orange County Sheriff’s Department

Community Programs

ccranford@ocsd.org