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The dark web: What is it, and how does it work?

The ‘dark web’ has a particularly bad name, and that is not without reason. The dark web, an anonymous and private part of the internet is the wild west of the internet. Elsevier gives you a peek into a dark world.

The deep web popular sites are at the basis of the dark web. Tor, invented by the US Navy, offers intelligence services secure and anonymous communication on the internet. Normally a computer connects directly to the internet, but Tor uses intermediate stations between the sender and destination.

For example, a message sent from the Netherlands can go through intermediate stations in Spain, China, and South Africa before it reaches its destination in the United States. Each intermediate station encrypts part of the data. Tor gives a high degree of anonymity, which makes it loved by criminals. The use of the dark web is not punishable unless you obtain illegal goods via the network.

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A marketplace for illegal goods

Tor is easy to download via the Tor website. Tor looks a lot like regular browsers. The URLs on the darknet are longer, consist of random letters and numbers, and change regularly. On intermediate websites – such as Deepdotweb – you will find an overview of the current URLs that are used in the Tor browser.

The largest market on the dark web is AlphaBay, a kind of Marktplaats.nl for illegal goods. If you are visiting the website for the first time, you must create an account. This can be done anonymously: no e-mail address is required for activation.

You then arrive at the alphabet homepage. In the left column are all product categories. The largest supply consists of drugs. Almost everything is for sale, from cannabis, ecstasy to heroin. The sellers are ranked by reliability, determined by assessments. Buyers assess the product and delivery, among other things. It is striking that many ‘reliable’ sellers of cannabis and synthetic drugs come from the Netherlands.

In addition to drugs, there is more for sale. A trader from the United States offers a Glock pistol for 1,500 dollars, including cartridges and ammunition. A Kalashnikov-type rifle including warehouses and forty bullets is offered for more than 1,900 dollars. From 1,000 dollars, fake passports and driver’s licenses are for sale. Want to watch Netflix for free or visit porn websites all your life? No problem according to seller ‘Anubis,’ who is willing to sell your account information for a few dollars.

You can pay on the dark web with the bitcoin

The payment method of the dark web is bitcoin, a decentralized, independent, and virtual currency. One bitcoin is worth more than 1,000 dollars. Bitcoins are offered for sale on numerous websites. You can often pay with a credit card or Ideal, after which the bitcoins are added to your wallet. You must then transfer the payment method to the alphabet account to make purchases.

The shipment of the merchandise is by post. Small amounts of drugs are sent by an envelope. The seller sends weapons per item, spread over packages, in order to reduce the risk of detection. You will receive an e-mail with log-in details and credit card numbers obtained through fraud.

Sending packages of prohibited goods within the European Union (EU) is relatively simple. The free movement of goods has substantially reduced customs controls. Due to the enormous amount of packages and envelopes, the chance that illegal goods are discovered is very small. Shipping to countries outside the EU is more difficult. In Australia, for example, all packages and envelopes from the Netherlands are checked.