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Nation Current Affairs 16 May 2019 The darknet: Fightin ...

The darknet: Fighting a losing battle

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | YAMUNA R
Published May 16, 2019, 5:14 am IST
Updated May 16, 2019, 5:14 am IST
The dark web is that part of the internet which can be accessed only by ‘overlay networks ‘ and needs special browsers like TOR to access.
Illicit drugs, weapons, online fraud and child pornography: the endless dangers of darknet.
 Illicit drugs, weapons, online fraud and child pornography: the endless dangers of darknet.

Chennai: The arrest of two Delhi youths for the import and sale of illegal marijuana through the darknet in December last year sparked widespread discussion on the rising prominence of the darknet in India. With darknet being the new market for drug peddlers and illegal traders, it is slowly becoming one of the most challenging problems to be tackled in this cyber age.

What is the darknet?  The worldwide web can be divided into three categories- the surface web, the deep web and the dark web. While pages on the surface web(visible web ) are indexed and can be easily accessed by the public, pages on the deep web are not indexed and hence cannot be readily accessed. The content of the deep web is to be found in the HTTP forms. Webmail, online banking, and services that users must pay for, and which is protected by a paywall, such as a video on demand, some online magazines and newspapers, and many more- all are part of deep web.

 

A direct URL or IP address will help locate and access the content on a deep web.  It may also require you to enter a  password or other security access past the public website page . The dark web is that part of the internet which can be accessed only by ‘overlay networks ‘ and needs special browsers like TOR to access. Browsers like TOR ensure anonymity to the host as well as the user, by protecting the IP address with its ‘overlay network’ structure.

 Illicit drugs, weapons, online fraud and child pornography: the endless dangers of darknet.

The promise of anonymity the darknet offers has led to an alarming increase in its use in the past 4 years.  A 2015 study showed that drugs are the most traded commodity on the dark web and 26 per cent of its content can be classified as ‘child exploitation’.

A December 2014 study by Gareth Owen from the University of Portsmouth found that the most commonly hosted type of content on Tor was child pornography, followed by black markets. Stolen credit card details, forged documents, counterfeit currency and weapons are the other types of content. Reports of crowdfunded assassinations, hitmen and live streamed murders are believed to be available on the darknet.

How does it work?
Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are used for transactions on the darknet. Purchases on the darknet come with reviews and ratings just like on Amazon and Flipkart and are delivered to the customer’s doorstep just like any other order. Service providers like ‘escrow’ ensure that the transaction is made to the seller only after the customer receives the package. Often disguised, these illegal products mostly make their way through customs to the customers’ doorstep.

The bright side? It would be safe to say not everything is dark about the darknet.

The privacy it provides is a major attraction to many who are looking to escape the watchful eyes of service providers and federal agencies. Anonymous messenger services and access to tonnes of resources (data, books, documents) argues the use of darknet for good.

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