BEIJING, July 21 (Xinhua) — The world’s largest and third largest dark web markets, AlphaBay and Hansa were shut down due to international law enforcement investigation, the U.S. Justice Department and Europol said on Thursday.
What is a dark web market, and how does it work?
The Internet is actually made up of three different layers: the surface web, the deep web and the dark web.
The surface web are web pages that show up using search engines such as Google, Baidu and other similar websites.
The deep web has pages that normal search engines can’t access and are therefore hidden, accessed via passwords and authorization.
The dark web is a network of untraceable online activity and websites on the Internet. It’s used by many people for different things but it’s infamously used by criminals to hide illegal activity online.
The dark web was originally created by the U.S. government to allow spies to exchange information completely anonymously. The U.S. military researchers developed the technology, known as Tor in the mid-1990s and released it into the public domain for everyone to use.
Therefore, the dark web market thrives online. “Just like the forest, the dark web hides things well. It hides actions and it hides identities. The dark web also prevents people from knowing who you are, what you are doing and where you are doing it,” said Daniel Prince, Associate Director Security at Lancaster University on website The Conversation.
The dark web markets are simply digital marketplaces, created via the same kinds of technologies that typically underpin bitcoin, which they accept as a way of payment. So they aren’t illegal originally.
However, most dark markets may quickly become illegal as soon as they allow the trafficking of drugs, weaponry or other illegal items.
Once the online marketplace breaks the law, it rots away to be an illegal website. And then law enforcement officials will follow to investigate.