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What it’s like to spend a week surfing the ‘dark web’

Published Mar 11th, 2015 10:15PM EDT
Tor Dark Web Sites Guide

Yes, there really are two Internets — the one that most of us use and the so-called “dark web” used by all manner of criminals to conduct nefarious business without being tracked by law enforcement officials. BuzzFeed’s Joseph Bernstein spent an entire week hanging out on the Internet’s seedy underbelly, which he says consists of “scammers, drug dealers, and endearing dorks.”

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First, he found that it’s still incredibly easy to buy drugs on the dark web despite the fact that law enforcement officials recently busted the infamous Silk Road online drug clearinghouse. A Silk Road alternative called The Peoples Drug Store, for instance, “offers heroin, weed, ecstasy, speed, prescription pills, and both crack and powder cocaine.” That’s a pretty impressive assortment of illegal narcotics.

Other illicit goods easily found on the dark web via the Tor browser include child pornography, illegal firearms and forged American passports you can buy for under $6,000.

Tor, which is an acronym for The Onion Router, keeps your online activity anonymous by routing your traffic through several different servers before sending it through to your computer and it has become a staple tool for criminals who want to discretely conduct illegal activities. Of course, Tor is also used by law enforcement agencies to set up would-be criminals, so navigating the dark web isn’t as easy as just running around and telling everyone that you want crates full of grenade launchers shipped to your address.

“[Silk Road operator] Ross Ulbricht got caught after he tried to hire a hitman who turned out to be a DEA agent,” Bernstein explains. “There are still links to ‘cleaners’ and ‘hitmen’ everywhere you turn on the Dark Web, but it’s hard to lend them much credence.”

Check out his full impressions of the dark web by clicking here.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.