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Who Uses the Dark Web?

When most people think about the Dark Web, they conjure up a specific image. You know the one. The faceless hacker in the dark room in front of a keyboard. 

Here are some hackers now, hard at work on the Dark Web.

The reality, however, is infinitely more complex. Some of what happens on the Dark Web is downright mundane. Just your run-of-the-mill privacy conscious folks looking to communicate securely on the Internet. On the other hand, some Dark Web users are hackers up to no good, accessing networks and obtaining confidential information for fun or profit. At its most extreme, you have malicious actors using the Dark Web to perpetrate crimes that impact the safety and well-being of public and private organizations and individuals in the real world. The Dark Web is a mixed bag.

So who uses the Dark Web?

  1. Intelligence Community: The Dark Web was initially developed by the intelligence community in the 1990s in order to communicate covertly. The intelligence community continues to make use of the Dark Web to send and receive secure communications within their own peer-to-peer networks.
  2. Criminals: The Dark Web is a prime enabler for criminals looking to take advantage of vulnerable people and systems on the Internet. It allows criminals to communicate, organize and transact in a way that is not easily traceable and hidden away from prying eyes.
  3. Law Enforcement & Security: Security professionals and law enforcement make use of the Dark Web to assess risk, trace threats and investigate attacks. Law enforcement also uses the Dark Web to connect with malicious actors using the web to peddle illegal goods or content to find ways to combat illicit activity and prosecute those guilty parties.
  4. Journalists: Investigative journalists want to keep their sources anonymous. The Dark Web is one way to keep those relationships, and communications, private.
  5. Private Citizens: Yes, regular privacy-conscious folks use the Dark Web too. Being active in the Surface Web  The Dark Web is especially important for private citizens living under restrictive regimes. In countries where free speech and access to the Internet is limited, or outlawed entirely, the Dark Web presents an opportunity to communicate and connect.

Ultimately, the Dark Web is a key component of the savvy criminal’s tool kit. It is also an important source of intelligence for law enforcement and corporate security professionals. Vigilance and visibility is increasingly required for our connected world. So what’s in your tool kit?

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