The murky world of the Dark Web is closer to the surface than people think and criminals are buying, selling and carrying out all sorts of illegal activities on what is viewed like an ‘Amazon for criminals.’
Dr Tim Owen, director of the University of Central Lancashire’s Cybercrime Research Unit, says: “The Dark Web is closer to the surface than people realise.
“It is assumed by many people there is a separate Internet called the Dark Net but it is actually only a few clicks away.
“The Internet is a very exciting thing for many but it is also a very dangerous thing if you don’t know what you are doing.
“It is like getting into a car and attempting to drive without having any driving lessons.
“There are so many pitfalls for the unknowing surfer.
“There are all manner of things on the Dark Web and it is a very dangerous market.
“It is a bit of an unpoliced area.
“People sometimes think that crime on the Internet is secondary to crime in the real world.
“But it is all in the real world.
“However, because it is possible to be anonymous on the Internet, people are more likely to behave in a disinhibited way.
“Hiding behind an avatar does not change the crime. They are still responsible for their behaviour.
“The virtual world is blurring with the real world and people need to be clear that whatever they do on the Internet, the same rules apply.”
Zain Javed, chief technology officer at cyber security firm Xyone, based at Lancaster University, says: “The Dark Web consists of websites that usual people can’t see, You need specialist software to be able to access them.
“Anyone can go on The Dark Web if they know how to do it.
“With the Dark Web, people have the freedom to be completely anonymous and do what they want.
“Anything illegal can be found on the Dark Web from hiring a hitman to drug dealing and buying firearms and weapons.
“All sorts of crazy things happen on the Dark Web but there is no law that stops people going on it.
“The Computer Misuse Act only comes in when you have done something to commit a crime such as if you purchase drugs.”
Det Cons Mark Aldridge, fraud evaluation and liaison officer who works in the economic crime unit at Lancashire Police, says: “It is called ‘The Dark Web’ for a reason. It was set up purely to facilitate crime.
“If people feel they have to hide this stuff, then there is something inherently wrong with it in the first place.
“It is like an ‘Amazon’ or catalogue for criminals. It opens a whole new door for them.
“As more people get access to it, more crimes are being committed.
“Criminals are finding new ways of carrying out old crimes using new techniques and technology.”