The internet does, in fact, have a “dark side”
There was a story recently about an anonymous campaign of pro-hackers (people who use illicit methods of hacking for the betterment of our community) began on October 14th, when members of a “hactivist” group found a cache of child-pornography websites while browsing a secret website called The Hidden Wiki.
So being in the internet business, I couldn’t help but want to read more about people who hack websites for a good cause, but what I found out about the internet really disturbed me.
Website hacking for a good cause (for once)
Members of an activist pro-hackers group are claiming responsibility for removing more than 40 child-pornography websites and singled out Lolita City, a file sharing website used by pedophiles, and leaked 1,589 active members to Pastebin on October 18th 2011.
However, in targeting child-pornography web sites and in explaining its methods of counter attack, these Anonymous-affiliated hackers have revealed to the rest of the world a deeply disturbing side of the Internet unknown to most people.
The Hidden Wiki
The Hidden Wiki is a secret, invisible website which cannot be viewed by regular web users and is blocked from most internet search engines. It is compiled using state of the art technology and intentionally offers discretion to the most disturbing and traumatizing of human behavior.
The so-called "darknet," from which this "Operation Darknet" hacking campaign takes its name, is any part of the Internet that is hidden from view — not just hard to reach, but deliberately concealed. In this instance, a darknet appears to have grown out of the free TOR routing service, which offers anonymous, encrypted Web browsing to any user.
It is important to remember that only computers that have installed TOR browser plug-ins can access the TOR-based darknet, including its guidebook the Hidden Wiki, the security site Infosec Island have reported. There are several good YouTube videos out there explaining how TOR works, how to install it and how to actually access the darknet.
What’s on the Darknet?
In short, anything illegal and explicit you could dream up. Whether you need to find a local drug dealer, browse child pornography, launder money or hire a contract killer – you can find it there. Users update the hidden wiki which is organized into categories where individual services can be listed much like Craig’s List or other popular sites.
How can parents take an active role?
While we may all be aware to some degree the dangers that lurk online, it can take hard hitting facts like this to remember that child-pornography does in fact exist and can pose a real threat. And with our young people as comfortable with technology as they are, don’t assume that they can’t find TOR and locate a drug dealer online.
There are many pro-active steps you can take as a parent or responsible adult to make sure our children are safe.
- Install parental controls into web browsing devices used by children
- Do not allow young children to browse the internet alone
- Educate your children on the dangers of the internet and talking to strangers
- Monitor their downloading patterns and behaviors, especially in older children
- Limit the social networks and the safety settings they currently use
- Be aware of who your children talk to online
With communication, education and strong parenting, the risk of your child becoming the next victim could be minimal, so do not hesitate in helping to implement a healthier, safer online community for everyone; especially for those most vulnerable and cherished.