Because of its mysterious nature, very little is known about the dark web except for the fact that it’s where people can buy illegal stuff, such as guns and drugs. Not to be confused with the deep web, the dark web is mostly accessed through the Tor browser. It provides access to the deepest layer of the internet, where the majority of the things (mostly those considered harmful) happen. Ever since it was introduced in the early 2000s, there have been a lot of misconceptions surrounding the internet feature. This article highlights some facts about the dark web that you (probably) didn’t know.

1. Free Net was the First Dark Web Network

While it is commonly assumed that the Tor browser birthed the dark web, all credit should be handed over to Ian Clarke, an Edinburgh University student who did a thesis project and invented Free Net in 2000. This decentralized storage and retrieval system allowed people to use the internet anonymously. It’s also the software that paved the way for the Tor browser, launched in 2002. By the way, Ian Clarke got a B plain for the Free Net thesis.

2. The Dark Web was Initially a Good Initiative

The dark web was introduced to facilitate anonymous communication within the US and other authoritarian countries where the governments were rumored to be spying on their residents. Therefore, the dark web was used to safeguard its users’ freedom of speech, prevent censorship and other legal activities. It was, however, hijacked by criminal masterminds and turned into what it is today.

3. The AI Has Significant Impact on the Dark Web

Undoubtedly, artificial intelligence has had a profound impact on the surface web. However, many don’t know that the dark web also “benefits significantly” from artificial intelligence. On the platform, there are numerous clones of ChatGPT being advertised. Also, several dark web posts discuss how Language Learning Models can be utilized for criminal activities such as phishing and cyber-attacks.

4. Drugs are the Main Commodity on the Dark Web

Even though the dark web is a marketplace for a wide range of items, drugs remain to be the top commodity. Researchers have identified that hard drugs such as LSD, MDMA, heroin, and cocaine are the most frequently sold items on the dark web. Fraud schemes like stolen credit cards and PayPal accounts are the second most popular commodity.

5. Crypto is the Main Currency on the Dark Web

Because of its anonymity and flexibility, crypto is the main currency on the dark web. Regardless of what one is buying, the digital currency is the go-to payment method because it hides the identities of both buyers and sellers.

6. There was a Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate Market on the Dark Web

Entrepreneurs on the dark web know how to leverage desperate situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Coronavirus vaccine was released, many people were reluctant to take it for fear of the side effects. However, because one needed a Covid-19 certificate to travel and move around, the dark net created a market for fake certificates and vaccines. This market died down as the pandemic was contained.

7. Dark Web Sellers are Highly Organized

Most people assume that the chances of being ripped off are high just because the dark web is a marketplace for illegal stuff; it’s the exact opposite! The sellers on the platform are exceptionally organized – they even have feedback scores and ratings. In some marketplaces, sellers must obtain a vendor’s license, which isn’t cheap. Buyers also continually evaluate a seller’s reputation score before making a purchase.

8. There are Cybercrime Guides on the Dark Web

The dark web is an ideal source of inspiration for anyone who is just getting started with crime. There are guides, courses, and even playbooks on hacking, phishing, and many other forms of cybercrime.

9. Germany Has the Highest Average Number of Daily Dark Web Users

A report shared by Tor indicates Germany has the highest number of dark web users – it has a daily user mean of 1.4 million. The United States comes in second with a mean daily user of 638,305. Other countries with notable numbers on that list include India, Russia, Indonesia, and France.

10. More Men Access the Dark Web than Women

In 2019, Cornell University conducted a survey on the dark net and discovered that 84.7% of dark web users are male and only 9.4% are female. In the male demographic, most dark web users are between 36 and 45.

11. Abacus is Currently among the Most Popular Markets on the Dark Web

Over the years, the dark web has had various marketplaces come and go; Silk Road and Hansa are perfect examples. Currently, the most popular marketplace on the dark web is called Abacus. It took over from AlphaBay and was launched in 2021.

At the time of writing, Abacus had over 40,000 products available for sale and operated mainly in English. There, you can find jewelry, malware, drugs, and many other items. To safeguard its clients, Abacus uses Two-Factor Authentication and comprehensive phishing warnings. Other notable marketplaces include the Russian Market, BriansClub, and Torzon Market.

12. Browsing the Dark Web is Legal in Most Countries

In most parts of the world, accessing the dark web is legal. The illegal part involves buying or selling items such as drugs, guns or participating in cybercrime. Provided one doesn’t engage in any criminal activities, it is legal to browse the dark web and explore everything that it offers.

However, in countries such as Russia and China, the authorities have blocked access to the Tor network, making it impossible for their residents to browse the dark web.

Last Update: July 8, 2024