What Is Dark Web and How to Insure Your Kid against It
Nowadays, modern technologies and the Internet are taking over each aspect of our lives. Our children get introduced to the World Wide Web at a very young age and grow up exploring more of its benefits. The Internet helps them out with education, communication, and brightens up their leisure. However, it is not always safe, and as the majority of parents, you’ve probably already heard and read about various online threats – cyberbullying, sexting, objectionable content, etc.
At the same time, one of the most underestimated Internet perils is the Dark Web. Unfortunately, not all of the parents are informed well enough about it, as opposed to their children – especially teenagers, whose curiosity and thirst for overcoming taboos goads them to try out this dark cache of the virtual world.
This article will reveal you the Dark Web secrets and answer some urgent questions like what is the difference between Deep and Dark Web? Is it safe to browse the Deep Web? Or is the Dark Web dangerous for your children? And what are the warning signs of your kid possibly using the Dark Web and how to prevent it?
The Deep Web and the Dark Web: What is the Difference?
If you do a basic online research on the topic, you will come across the two terms – the Deep Web and the Dark Web, which are often confused on the media. Although both terms are related, they definitely cannot be taken as synonyms.
The best way to realize the difference between the Deep Net and the Dark Web is to imagine the whole World Wide Web as an iceberg.
The above-water top of this iceberg would be what we call the Surface Web. This part of the World Wide Web is commonly used by millions of people all over the world. The Surface Web is a collection of indexed web pages that are processed by the biggest search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo, and come up as search results any time one types in an online search request.
It is interesting to know that, according to different sources, the Surface Web makes only surprisingly small part of the Internet – just 4-16% depending on a request and the number of the pages indexed.
The Deep Web is formed by a vast amount of not indexed pages: as much as 90% of all content on the Web lies underneath the surface and is not visible to the search engines. Just try to imagine the underside of an iceberg, hidden from your eyes under the water. Government resources, legal documents, medical records, scientific reports, academic information, subscription information and even data stored on home-area networks – all of them pertain to the Deep Web. As a rule, one can access such kind of information by typing their request into a search box of a particular site or accessing the password-protected area.
Is the Deep Web safe? The answer would rather be yes. In most cases? You can access and use the Deep Web safely; it’s not supposed to have any harmful content even if they are invisible for the search engines. The best tip on how to protect yourself on the Deep Web would be to never try to enter the part of the Deep Web called the Dark Web.
The Dark Web is a small fraction of the Deep Web. It is burried on the very bottom of the Net and cannot be accessed through the standard browsers. To enter it, one needs to use the encryption tools such as TOR (short for “The Onion Router”).
Any user remains anonymous on TOR due to the network of the “virtual tunnels” provided by the encryption tools. There is no way to identify anyone’s physical location or trace the list of the websites one visits, any posts or sent messages. These features of TOR are what initially attracts children to it: they may just want to bypass school internet filters or to hide their digital footprints from their parents.
However, using the Dark Web exposes children to the numerous threats they might have no idea about. The anonymity provided by the Dark Web draws all sorts of cyber-bullies, hackers, online fraudsters, predators, and criminals who can easily hide their true identity. One can never be sure who he’s talking to and in what sort of dangerous and illegal activities they can be enticed into.
TOR browser is something that should never appear on the PC or any other portable device of your child. Once installed, this app gives access to the TOR network, which in its turn among entirely typical web pages offers the most disturbing sites such as the Hidden Wiki, the Uncensored Hidden Wiki, the Deep Web Links and others. As an example, the Hidden Wiki provides links to some of the most horrible resources: dealing drugs, killers for hire, selling weapons, false documents, child porn, gambling and many other even more sinister and shocking things.
Probably, the “Silk Road” is the most notorious Dark Web illegal market, which used to sell all kinds of drugs online. It gained its disrepute partially due to teenagers who discovered that they could find, choose, order drugs online, pay for them with Bitcoin and receive them through the US Post just as easy as buying any item on eBay. Many teens were even bragging of their deals on the forums of the Dark Web and providing “tutorials” to the novices. Sadly, since the shut down in 2013 this black market soon re-appeared on the Web in the various new forms, corresponding to the inexhaustible demand for illegal drugs.
Here are some signs that might signal that your kid surfs the Deep/Dark Web:
- Changes in daily routine: bad sleep, anxiousness, constant fatigue, weight gain or loss, ;
- Changes in behavior: secrecy, irritability, signs of stress or depression, withdrawal from hobbies and usual activities;
- A rapid change in circle of contacts, new friends that don’t seem to be reliable enough;
- Your child is trying to cover their online activity: empties internet history, changes passwords, deletes messages, installs new browsers, ;
- You notice money on your bank account or cash at home being missing;
- A child receives postal packages from the senders you don’t know.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Child from the Dangers of the Dark Web
- Check all the browsers on your kid’s PC, laptop, and all digital devices. Delete all unknown browsers from the OS.
- Check the Internet browsing history; look for unusually long URL – TOR sites usually have lengthened web addresses. Google and check all unknown sites; ask a trusted tech savvy friend/expert for help or search discussion forums to help you detect suspicious URLs.
- Inspect any mail and parcel delivered to your house. Insist on children opening any packages addressed to them in your presence. Often, kids who offer drugs or other illicit items through the TOR sites, rent a PO Box. Inquire at your post office if your child has any.
- Supervise any Internet activity of your kids in the elementary school closely. Once they reach the middle school, educate them about the dangers of the Dark Web, and explain that there are no safe ways to surf
- Use reliable parental monitoring apps such as Pumpic to help you. They will let you know if your kid is interested in or already using the Dark Web resources, and will help you to avert the danger before it’s too late.
- Start an open discussion about the Dark Web perils with your high school teenager. Ask what do they already know about it and if they have friends who use Dark Web. No matter the age, agree that you will keep an eye on their online activity and contacts.
So, is the Dark Net illegal? Yes, and so it is dangerous for anyone, especially for the children. That’s why, if you suspect that your kid might surf the Dark Web, you have to do everything to withdraw and insure them against this hazard.
Tell us, please, how do you ensure your kids’ online security?