Cyber Recovery Solutions, LLC.

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January 2013

"The Dangers of the Deep Web"

     The majority of the people in our society utilize the area of the Internet referred to as the "Surface Web". These web pages are indexed and crawled by most search engines. (i.e. Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc) This allows for the ease of the user to locate a web page related to the topic they are interested in viewing. These web sites are widely viewed by most of the public, and are easily monitored by Law Enforcement.

     The term "Deep Web"is credited to Mike Bergman, who is the founder of BrightPlanet. This term refers to the area of the Internet that is not indexed or crawled by the popular search engines. This term associates the Internet with a sea. The search engines drag a net through the sea and collect all of the web sites they can and provide you the user with their information. But, the "Deep Web" is that area of the Internet that the net cannot reach. The actual size of this area of the Internet cannot be accurately calculated, but it is said that search engines only crawl about 20% of the web pages on the Internet. This leaves an ENORMOUS area of the Internet that is similar to the wild west.

     I took the time to investigate these pages to see what type of activity was occurring there. I was shocked at what I discovered. I first found that I needed to download and install a certain Internet browser to access these pages. I then found that the majority of the users of these web pages were using a proxy server while accessing these pages. Simply put, a proxy server will act as a go-between to mask the user's actual location and only showing the proxy server location. The web browser that I had installed did all of this for me.

     Once I made my way in, I started at a page called "The Hidden Wiki". From this page, one can navigate through the "Deep Web" into the most nefarious places known. I was able to find pages where people could purchase narcotics and prescription medications and have them delivered to their house, where people could purchase firearms and have them delivered to their house, hitmen advertising their services, people buying and selling children for sex, prostitution, child pornography, and people willing to call in a threat to police that would activate a SWAT Team. I also found documents on how to build bombs, how to hack computer systems, lists of stolen credit card numbers, and lists of government/law enforcement official's home addresses. I can go on and on, but nothing seems out of reach in the "Deep Web".

     One of the web pages I was able to navigate to was called "Silkroad". This web page was like Ebay for narcotics. Numerous individuals all over the world advertise their narcotics or prescription medications for sale for people to purchase and have shipped to them. The web page even had a rating system for users to rate the sellers on their delivery and potency of the product!

     I was able to navigate to numerous bulletin boards and view individuals both looking for children to have sex with, and people offering their children for sex.

     What I also found is that many of the child pornography file sharing web pages demanded that you provide images to the group before they would allow access. This is their way of attempting to ensure that they do not get infiltrated by law enforcement officials.

     None of the communications between people are done using conventional email clients. (i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc) There are specific email clients in use here where all of the email communication is encrypted. The same goes for instant messaging clients. There are specific messaging clients in use where all of the communications are encrypted. One user must supply the recipient with the key to open the encrypted content. This is obviously done to minimize the chance of the communications being intercepted and read.

     Also, none of the purchases are made with country of origin currency. The purchases are made with "Bitcoins". A Bitcoin is digital currency used for transactions. A person would use their currency to purchase the Bitcoins online and maintain a balance to use to transfer funds to other users accounts when making purchases. Prices of Bitcoins fluctuate within its market. The current rate is about $10.00 per Bitcoin. The idea is for individuals to protect their identity as much as possible when engaging in their illegal activities online.

     In my time searching through the pages of the "Deep Web", I found that most of the information being provided and accessed is illegal in some way. It is concerning to know that anywhere from 75% to 80% of the entire Internet is an area that would be considered "Deep Web".

     I have provided an illustration that I located that shows the Internet as if it were a glacier in the ocean. This illustration depicts how large and vast the "Deep Web" really is.

     Simply put, unless you are into illegal activities, you should stay far away from this area of the Internet. Also, if you know of your children accessing these pages, you should intervene immediately.

Peter Morgan, EnCE