You may have heard of the number 1821 because of its involvement in the CoronaVirii (KPCC) incident in January 2020. That was the Twitter account number associated with the hacker known as Vandemanna, who claimed to be a member of the so-called Dark Web, and who was eventually arrested and charged with attempting to extort $500,000 from the Irvine, California-based biotechnology company for a so-called “blacklist.”
What Is The Dark Web?
The Dark Web isn’t one place, but it is used to represent a wide range of things that people want to keep from the prying eyes of corporate America, government agencies, and other organizations that might have malicious intents. There is no single, exact definition of what makes up the Dark Web because it is such a broad term, but here are some commonalities.
No One Owns It
This was originally the case with the Dark Web. Back in the day, before all these services popped up overnight, the only way to access it was via the Tor network or via dark web browsers like TOR Browser or the Chrome extension Dark Web (and there were plenty of other browsers like Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer in use back then as well). This option allowed users to access websites, forums, and other online content that was previously only available to those who could access the deep web or the original intranet (i.e. the pre-internet days). Now, however, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can access these resources.
Even companies like Google and Facebook don’t fully understand or appreciate how important this part of the internet is, which is why they’ve had such hard times ensuring that their platforms remain free of malicious content.
Just because something is dark or hidden doesn’t mean that it’s bad. The opposite is often true. Underground or ‘darknet’ websites and resources exist for everything from general interest to illegal activities such as shopping, gambling, and even pornography. The original intranet, for example, was ‘underground’ as was the precursor to the Dark Web itself, the Proprietary Science Network (PSN). There are entire ‘underground’ cities that exist solely on the dark web including cities for sale that offer complete anonymity, protection from prying eyes, and total discretion.
Anonymity and privacy are at the very core of the Dark Web, which is perhaps why so many of its services and websites are based on blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates to safeguard transactions. These technologies make up the so-called ‘Deep Web,’ which is also now available to anyone with a working internet connection.
Unmoderated Discussion Boards
The Dark Web also contains a host of discussion boards where users can discuss a variety of interests, both serious and light-hearted, in forums that are completely open and unmoderated. For example, /r/DarkNetMarkets is a popular discussion board where users can share tips on investing in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, or they can discuss ways to game the system to their advantage.
Some of these boards can get pretty contentious as evidenced by the many threats of violence and ‘don’t be fooled’ warnings that appear on them, but it’s generally a safe space for people who want to have the freedom to express their views and ideas without fear of repercussions.
Just because something is dark or hidden doesn’t mean that it’s bad, but it usually indicates that it’s worth paying attention to. Hidden services are one of the hidden gems of the Dark Web as they allow users to communicate with each other via forums and social media platforms that are completely hidden and inaccessible to outsiders. For example, /r/HiddenServices is a subreddit dedicated to all things related to hidden services.
These forums offer a level of privacy and security that can’t be matched by conventional forums or social media platforms, and it’s often the place that hackers, anarchists, and other troublemakers go to discuss their interests and activities, as well as those who want to keep their interest from the prying eyes of corporate America, government agencies, and other organizations that might have malicious intents.
File Sharing And Uploads
As mentioned above, the underground cities of the Dark Web are places where users can share files and photos via specialized file sharing websites like MediaFire, which was originally founded in 2010 and is one of the more popular dark web file hosts. Photo sharing services like Flickr, which is owned by Oath (previously known as Yahoo!) and where you can upload both photos and videos, are also popular throughout the Dark Web.
It’s often used to store huge amounts of data, whether it’s scientific research, articles, books, or even legal documents, and users can have private encrypted directories that are only accessible by a select few with the password hidden inside jokes, arcane phrases, or simply through a combination of the two. Like the rest of the Dark Web, these file hosts don’t require users to register or log in in order to download or upload files, which provides further anonymity and security.
This kind of content may not be suitable for all workplaces, but it’s important to recognize that these kinds of services and resources offer a host of advantages to those who use them and the world at large should not punish those who want to exercise freedom of thought and expression.
If you’re interested in the Dark Web, or in understanding what -182 means and its significance in the CoronaVirii incident, you can read more here.