SALT LAKE CITY — The dark web is truly a dark place. A hotbed of cyber-crime, a dark-web visitor can buy drugs, guns, counterfeit money, (For example, receiving $3,000 in counterfeit $20 bills for only a $600-price), stolen subscription credentials, hacked Netflix accounts and software to break into other people’s computers.
Earl Foote of Nexus IT Consultants joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic Thursday to talk about the criminal recesses of the dark web and how to keep kids out of its unlit abyss.
Foote said the dark web is not accessible through standard internet browsers like Safari, Chrome and Firefox.
“You have to use what’s called a Tor browser to access it, generally over a VPN connection or proxy connection so you can do so anonymously,” he said.
The Tor (The Onion Router) browser is primarily used to protect a person’s identity online. When using it, everything an individual does goes through their network and is encrypted, keeping online activity private.
The Tor browser is able to disguise an individual’s identity online by moving the person’s traffic across different servers. As that person’s traffic runs through these other computer servers, the data are encrypted so it’s impossible to track the individual’s movements.
A virtual private network (VPN) gives an individual online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.
Warn kids of the risks
“How can we figure out if someone we love may be getting sucked in to this world of the dark web?” Debbie asked.
“The first thing I’d recommend is educate your kids, talk to them about what it is, what the risks are, why they should avoid it,” Foote said. “Anybody who utilizes the dark web exposes themselves to significant threats. Beyond that, as parents, you should be looking at your child’s devices, looking for potentially Tor browsers or VPN connections. If you have packages showing up at the house, inspect the packages.”
On the dark web, personal passwords can be purchased. So Foote recommends subscribing to services that monitor the dark web for personally identifiable information (PII).
“Are my passwords out there available for sale? If so, I need to be changing those,” he said. “Is my Social Security number out there? Is there information about my company out there that shouldn’t be?”
“How easily accessible is the dark web?” Dave asked.
“It’s not that hard to access if you know how to do so,” Foote said. “You can find it in three or four easy steps.”
He advised parents to look for unknown browsers on their kids’ devices.
“Check for VPN connectors,” he said. “Kids should probably not have VPN connectors. You might need one for your work, but there’s no reason for a kid to have a VPN connector on their devices.”
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