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Who is Behind the Dark Web?

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ByHarper Stewart

Aug 8, 2023
Who is Behind the Dark Web?
Harper Stewart
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The dark web is a section of the internet that cannot be accessed without specialized software like Tor and is not indexed by search engines. It is a decentralized network, therefore no single organization or group is in charge of it. Numerous anonymous websites and services that are housed on servers all around the globe contribute to the dark web.

Despite not being intrinsically unlawful, the dark web has developed a reputation for being a shelter for criminal activity because it gives its users a sense of anonymity. It is utilized by both people and organizations involved in illicit drug, weapon, and data theft trades as well as other types of cybercrime. It’s crucial to remember that people seeking anonymity in oppressive regimes, journalists, and whistleblowers also utilize the dark web.

It’s challenging to identify the precise actors behind each website or service since it’s a complicated ecosystem with many different players.

Who Invented the Dark Web?

The idea of anonymous online communication networks, which has its roots in the 1960s experimental computer network ARPANET, gave rise to the dark web. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. Defense Department provided the first funding for ARPANET, which was designed to develop a decentralized communication system that could survive assaults.

ARPANET enabled experimentation by academics, mostly from universities, as it developed and became more private. Early in the 1970s, Stanford students and their MIT counterparts engaged in an illicit online trading of marijuana through ARPANET. The ARPANET network was divided in two in 1983: MILNET for military usage and a civilian version that served as the foundation for the Internet. 

In the same period, worries about internet privacy gave rise to “data havens,” places where data could be held in nations with lax regulations, much like tax havens. The 1990s saw the widespread adoption of the Internet, the increase in illicit music streaming made possible by tools like MP3 compression and Napster, and the early stages of Tor’s development—a private browsing network that would eventually serve as a primary entry point to the dark web.

The emergence of Freenet, a program for anonymous file sharing and web surfing, in 2000 increased the need for anonymous internet connection. When Tor was made available, it revolutionized the internet by enabling anonymous browsing two years later, in 2002. Tor’s anonymity characteristics unwittingly turned it into a haven for illicit behavior.

Overall, several causes, including the need for secure communication, privacy concerns, the availability of tools like Tor and Freenet, and the proliferation of criminal activities made easier by the internet, are responsible for the creation of the dark web.

Tor and the Dark Web

In the 1960s through the 1990s, there was an increasing need for uncensored material and private internet access. Its creation started in the 1990s at the U.S. Naval Research Lab with the goal of creating anonymous internet traffic passing across several servers—a notion known as “onion routing.” 

In 2002, Tor was made available as free and open-source software, with a focus on accessibility and a decentralized network for increased security. Users pressed Tor’s developers to combat censorship over time by getting through government firewalls and giving access to blocked websites.

The developers of Tor created a user-friendly Tor browser, which was published in 2008, to increase accessibility. The development of dark websites on the Tor network was aided by the launch of the Tor browser.

The Criminals Take Over

The emergence of private browsing networks like Tor, which drew activists attempting to circumvent censorship as well as people seeking online privacy, helped the black web expand. When Bitcoin arrived in 2009, it enabled anonymous transactions, which led to an increase in illegal sales on the dark web. During the Arab Spring in late 2010, the Tor browser played a crucial role in protecting users’ identities and providing them with access to crucial information. 

However, because of its links to illegal behavior, the dark web has come under scrutiny. The FBI took down the Silk Road in 2013, a well-known dark web bazaar for narcotics and other illegal commodities. The operations of the Silk Road were made public, highlighting the global growth in government crackdowns on the dark web and the market for illegal substances.

With Tor playing a role in assisting whistleblower operations, the Snowden revelations in 2013 further heightened the need for solutions to guard against mass monitoring. The FBI and foreign organizations worked together to shut down Playpen, a known underground website for child pornography, in 2015. These incidents show how the dark web has developed and the variety of information it carries. The dark web will remain active as long as there is a need for internet privacy.

Who is on the Other Side of the Dark Web? 

The dark web is not governed by a single individual. Yet, there may be individuals or organizations in charge of the majority of the dark internet. These organizations include leaders of illicit activities, free journalists, drug traffickers, and hackers.


The dark web is used to advertise and engage in the contracting of possibly unlawful and criminal services in addition to illegal and hazardous merchandise. Services that are reportedly provided on the dark web include:

  • Scam schemes: Users can pay for access to botnets that are used to send phishing or spam emails to user accounts. Due to its secrecy, hackers like the dark web for selling access to botnets.
  • Malware services: Various exploit kits and pre-made malware are widely available on the dark web. These may be bought and used by cybercriminals to target victims. The use of botnets to perform distributed denial of service (DDoS) assaults is another service that hackers provide. You may also pay for a hacker’s services to conduct a ransomware assault.
  • Skilled hitmen: Dark web users may hire real-world criminals like hitmen, in addition to engaging in cybercrime. Without a doubt, regardless of whether the services were obtained on the dark web, such an act would be unlawful.
  • Money laundering: such services are available on the dark web, enabling individuals to conceal their illicit riches from law authorities by blending them with legitimate purchases. This aids thieves in re-entering the financial system with their stolen funds.

Markets and Shops

One of the largest parts of the dark web consists of underground purchases. There are tons of dark markets that offer all kinds of deals, such as:

  • Drugs and illegal goods: These are the most frequent things offered for sale on the dark web, including marijuana, cocaine, and crystal meth. Dark web markets with a high reputation, like Silk Road and AlphaBay, were known for their involvement in international drug trafficking.
  • User accounts and fake IDs: The dark web frequently contains forfeited passports, identity cards, and accounts for services like Uber and Coinbase. These are employed to get around identity requirements and safety measures at establishments like airports and government buildings.
  • Private data: The dark web is frequently the final destination for private details collected through a data breach or attack. On several dark web marketplaces, datasets for sale frequently include addresses, credit card numbers, and financial and medical records.
  • Arms and ammunition: The dark web is becoming more popular as a means of selling weapons to terrorists and non-state actors, despite its relatively little involvement in global arms trafficking. This is especially true for “lone wolves”—terrorists who carry out their attacks on their own and do not rely on bigger organizations for their weaponry.
  • Illicit porn: On the dark web, there are websites devoted to illicit porn that feature severe violence, child pornography, and bestiality. Inadvertently watching or downloading these films might result in legal repercussions in the nation you’re in.

Criminals, Mafia, Hitmen

Dark web is a perfect place for criminals to offer their work. People find killers, human traffickers and other shady figures on the dark web. Some of them have control over several networks that correlate with each other.

It might seem very disturbing, but it’s possible to order a contract killer on someone as well as to hire a person to spy on your target. There are whole mafia gangs on the other side of the dark web and it’s not the best option to stand in their way. 

Free Media

The dark web has a number of message boards and chat rooms, many of which are devoted to subjects that aren’t appropriate for discussion elsewhere on the internet. We alert against visiting these sites because users could be talking about risky, prohibited, or immoral issues.

The dark web is used by journalists, whistleblowers, and others who cover corporations or governments to locate and share sensitive material. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and the WikiLeaks network have both utilized the dark web in the past to disseminate their messages.

There are also individuals from across the world who might share sensitive information. For example, something that goes against their government regime. In order to share information with the world,  journalists publish it on the dark web where it can`t be deleted that easily. Dark web is also a safe place to express any point of view on controversial topics.

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Harper Stewart

With a deep understanding of the complexities of the Dark Web, Harper curates informative and thought-provoking content for our readers. Her knowledge of the hidden corners of the internet and cybersecurity helps shed light on the often mysterious and illicit activities that take place in this realm.