Ivy Harper

Ivy Harper has 9 articles published.

Ivy is an experienced freelance contributor to the Dark Web Journal who focuses on technology and current affairs. Ivy Harper is a pseudonym.

Hacking 101: A Beginner’s Guide on How to Become a Hacker

in Hacking
how to become a hacker

If you want to learn hacking but have no idea where to start, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, you will discover how to become a hacker. But first, let’s talk about what hacking is, the different types of hackers, and whether hacking is illegal or not.

What is Hacking?

Hacking refers to identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a system and gaining access to it without authorization. A hacker is a person that targets a system and gets unauthorized access to it. However, there are ethical hackers who have permission to lawfully and legitimately gain access to a system.

Before we delve deeper into hacking 101, it’s important to state that not all hackers are bad. In mainstream media, hackers are generalized as cybercriminals. However, that isn’t always the case.

Hackers are categorized depending on the type of metaphorical “hat” they wear – ‘white hat’, ‘grey hat’ or ‘black hat’. That said, there are 10 types of hackers but for the sake of this article, we shall only take a look at five.  

  • White hat hacker – also known as an ethical hacker is a hacker who gains access to protected networks and systems to test and assess their security. They expose vulnerabilities and improve security before malicious hackers can gain access and exploit them
  • Black hat hacker – a classical hacker that gains unauthorized access to a system or network and exploits them for malicious or financial gain
  • Grey hat hacker – a hacker who gains unauthorized access to a secure system or network but reveals the weaknesses to the said company
  • Hacktivist – a hacktivist is a type of computer hacker that breaks into a system and creates messages geared towards certain social issues
  • Script kiddie – a script kiddie is a hacker who is a newbie in the hacking field. He or she doesn’t usually cause any major damage because they don’t have the experience to

Is Hacking Illegal?

is hacking illegal

“Is hacking illegal?” is a common question on the internet. The answer is yes and no. It depends on the intentions of the hacker.

Hacking isn’t illegal until someone hacks into a system or network and causes malice. Illegal hacking, therefore, refers to a hacker gaining access to a system with no authorization with the intention of causing damage. Still, even if an individual hacks into a system and doesn’t cause any harm, it’s still illegal as long as no permission was given.

Legal hacking has been narrowly defined leaving it to the hacker to become conversant with both local and national laws relating to hacking. It can be loosely defined as hacking into a computer system with written permission. Legal hacking, also known as white hat hacking, is largely used by organizations that want to ensure their computer systems are safe. To do this, they hire white hat hackers to find vulnerabilities.

How to Become a Hacker

Now that we have discussed what hacking is, the different types of hackers, and whether or not hacking is illegal, let’s talk about how to become a hacker.

learn hacking

Start With the Basics

As a beginner with little or no knowledge, one of the best ways that you can start learning is by beginning with the basics of hacking. Instead of immediately learning how to hack, you can start by exploring topics like computer networks, firewalls, network ports, network protocols such as IP addresses, FTP, SMTP, DNS, HTTP, etc. You can also start learning about other operating systems such as Linux whose knowledge is very important in the hacking field. The more you keep learning about hacking basics, the easier it becomes to find system weaknesses.

Once you’ve mastered the basic understanding of the primary concepts, you will find it easier to grasp different hacking techniques. In addition, as you continue to gain experience, you can gradually begin to get into higher levels of hacking.

Find a Good Learning Source

A lot of the content that is available in both books and on hacking websites is for experienced hackers. Usually, they contain technical information on the latest system vulnerabilities and how to exploit them.

However, the case is different for beginners. There aren’t enough hacking tutorials or content that teach hacking in a simple manner. The majority of the ones available don’t teach the basics of hacking.

Still, there are a handful of few authors and websites that teach hacking to beginners. If you search the internet long enough, you will find them.

Learn Programming

Learning programming is an optional choice. However, If you are serious about becoming a hacker, then programming is something that you have to learn. Especially, if you have no working knowledge of it.

Of course, there are lots of ready-made programs and tools that you can use to hack with relative ease. However, there’s nothing wrong with having some basic knowledge of programming languages such as HTML, PHP, JavaScript or C++.

These languages will enable you to be in a position to build your own programs and exploit codes. They will also make it easier to handle and interpret any code that you encounter in your hacking career.

Learn Both UNIX and Windows

There are a few operating systems besides Windows and OS. If you want to become a good hacker, it’s important that you learn other operating systems to expand your hacking knowledge. Most web applications and servers run on UNIX. Besides, more companies are switching to UNIX-based operating systems because they are more secure than Windows.

Most experienced and professional hackers use UNIX as their main operating system. While there’s no denying that you can still accomplish many things using Windows, it’s not as complete and secure as UNIX. That simply means that it’s not suitable for hacking or penetrating testing. As a beginner, while it’s important to learn all operating systems, it’s important you invest your time in learning a system that everyone uses.

You should also be willing to constantly and continuously learn new things given how fast technology keeps changing.

Mastering the Art of Hacking

hacking 101

Just like with any sport or habit, you can never be perfect. And neither can you learn it in a day. You need to constantly keep up with the changes in your industry so that you don’t miss out. The same applies to hacking.

It isn’t something that can be learned overnight. And, you should never be in a rush to get going. You have to take baby steps. That means learning and improving your skills each day. You have to put in the work by making time for it.

Learning how to hack fully depends on you and the effort and dedication you put. Also, depending on the type of learner you are, it can take anything between a few months to several years to acquire all the important skills needed. Besides the available tutorials, you can read books, participate in forums such as Quora where you can cross share knowledge with other learners or professionals who have more experience than you do. Find practical examples that give you a step by step guide on how you can hack like a professional.

There are lots of resources available. Find what works for you and stick to it. Every individual can become a hacker as long as they start from the basics. If you want to learn how to be a hacker, you need to find a good source of knowledge, be passionate and be patient with yourself.

How to Detect Keylogger Software on Your Computer

in Features/Hacking
keylogger

There are many sneaky hacker tools and programs that could find their way to your computer. A keylogger is one of the most dangerous programs as it records each and every stroke you make on your laptop’s keyboard.

In this guide, we take a look at what keyloggers do, how they get onto your computer, how to detect and get rid of them.

What is a Keylogger?

Leading cybersecurity firm McAfee describes a keylogger (short for keystroke logger) as a “software that tracks or logs the keys struck on your keyboard, typically in a covert manner so that you don’t know that your actions are being monitored. This is usually done with malicious intent to collect your account information, credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other private data.” That means that hackers can get all your usernames, passwords, account numbers and PIN codes.

There are also legitimate uses of keyloggers. Parents can use them to monitor their children’s activities online. Authorities can use them to track and analyze cases associated with the use of personal computers. Employers can use them to ascertain that their employees are working and not just surfing the web.

Nevertheless, keyloggers pose a big threat to your online life. Especially, if you have a compromised device as there’s no amount of encryption that can save you.

Keyloggers are programmed to run on your computer as soon as you switch it on. Besides, they don’t slow down a computer making them hard to identify.

There are two different types of keyloggers – software and hardware.

Software keyloggers are keyloggers that are anonymously configured into your computer’s program and run in the background undetected while sending all your information to the hacker.

Hardware keyloggers are keyloggers in the form of USB sticks or other hardware. They are inserted at the back of the CPU and operate by filming your keystrokes. Although hardware keyloggers do exist and are used, they aren’t as common as software keyloggers.

How Can a Keylogger Find its Way Into Your Computer?

keylogger software

Keyloggers are spread the same way that malicious programs are spread. Apart from legitimate use cases of keyloggers or in instances where they are installed by a jealous partner or spouse, a keylogger can be installed into your computer as part of a trojan.

A trojan is software that gains access to your computer’s system by pretending to be harmless but is designed to do something damaging. In this case, recording crucial information by tracking and logging each key struck on your keyboard. A trojan can be an attachment that’s received via email, text, social media or instant messaging. You can also get infected by visiting a website.

Additionally, the downloaded trojan can provide an opening for the hacker to get more malware through your computer’s firewall. Once the keylogger has recorded your keystrokes in a file saved on your computer, it will use a separate program to send out that information over the internet. And because malware analysts can trap the file and track the hacker, the information rarely gets sent straight to the hacker. Instead, the information is encrypted and then shared on a public message board where the cybercriminal can anonymously download the data.

Anti-spyware and antimalware’s tend to overlook keylogging because there are quite a number of legitimate programs that use keyloggers. It’s therefore hard to prevent keyloggers from getting into your computer.

Additionally, there are those that manage to sneak in past antimalware programs during system updates. Because of these reasons, it’s very difficult to protect your computer from keyloggers. The only way to protect yourself is to avoid downloading and installing software unless you are sure of the source.

How to Detect a Keylogger

how to detect a keylogger

“How to detect a keylogger on your computer?” is a commonly asked question among cybersecurity conscious individuals. The simple and short answer is to open your task manager and look at the processes that are running.

Unfortunately, most of the background processes have very obscure names. It can be hard finding a keylogger because hackers don’t just name them keyloggers. Windows will always show all the programs that are running in the background. If there’s a program that isn’t familiar to you, you can do a simple Google search. Hopefully, you will find articles written on the different names used for keyloggers.

Another way that you can detect a keylogger is by monitoring your computer’s network connections using a firewall. Remember, keyloggers work by collecting and sending your logs to a remote location. That means that an internet connection is used to send the encrypted file. You can make use of applications such as Windows Firewall Control to check the programs that are using your network connection. In addition, you can use the program to set rules to prevent unauthorized or unknown programs from connecting to the internet. However, with this method, there’s no guarantee that you will have blocked the right programs.

How to Get Rid of Keyloggers

Keyloggers were introduced to keep track of what employees were doing on company computers. They have since become a tool that hackers use to access people’s crucial information. Today, keyloggers are also becoming very common with digital marketers as they use them to monitor the activities of visitors on their sites.

Getting rid of keyloggers is never easy as you might be forced to uninstall and reinstall your operating system to completely get rid of it. However, by investing in a good antikeylogger software, you will be one step ahead of protecting your computer and your digital footprint. A good antikeylogger should be able to audit all the processes running on your computer. From the background services, apps running to the BIOS, network settings, browser settings, plug-ins, and operating systems.

A lot of the keylogger software available tend to be rootkit viruses. Get a good antikeylogger system and an anti-rootkit program. This will help you to stop the installation of keyloggers.

Most of the top antivirus companies such as Bitdefender, McAfee, Kaspersky, and Norton offer antikeyloggers and anti-rootkit programs. Aside from installing a good antikeylogger and anti-rootkit program, avoid downloading just about any app you come across. Also, always ensure that your software is up to date.

Dark Web Red Rooms: Urban Legend or Worst Content on the Deep Web?

in Deep Web
Dark Web Red Rooms

A so-called “dark web red room” is said to be a hidden service or website where people can see and take part in interactive murder or torture that is live-streamed for a fee. While some believe that red rooms exist, others believe that is not the case.

The Dark Web Journal dove deep into this phenomenon to find out whether dark web red rooms are real or whether they are just another urban legend.

What is a Dark Web Red Room?

Dark web red rooms are believed to be darknet sites where people can watch live, interactive torture, rape, or murder.

Red rooms are believed to contain explicit torture content subjected by an admin who receives instructions from paying viewers. Simply put, red rooms operate in a similar manner like auctions only that auctions aren’t about torturing people. Users will pay to watch torture online while the admin does whatever the highest bidder wants to be done to the captive.

Every day, internet users turn to sites like Quora to ask how they can access red rooms. It’s believed that the red room became popular after the Japanese animation where a pop-up ad kept showing on people’s screen with the question ‘Do you like the red room?’. If one tried to close it a full-sized window would open with people’s names. Stories have it that the names belonged to people who had accessed the red room before and were found dead. This was the same fate that befell anyone who saw the pop-up ad.

What Can You Find in a Red Room?

red rooms

Red rooms can be broadly classified as a video portal. In red rooms, you can expect any type of video that will either involve murder, torture, or any other type of physical abuse.

Murder is allegedly very common in the red room. You can pay to watch a captive being killed or ask for the captive to be tortured. The act will then be streamed live on the red room as the admin takes instructions from you on what to do to the person next. It’s believed that there are categories such as ‘neck-slicing’, ‘slow death’ or other methods of killing that are unthinkable. Users make payments using cryptocurrencies – such as bitcoin – because of their pseudonymity.

Rape is also believed to be available in the red room. In fact, whatever level of sexual torture you can imagine, you can allegedly find in dark web red rooms.

The Rise of Red Rooms

The term ‘red room’ has been in existence for decades. It is thought to have originated either from the 1983 ‘Videodrome’ horror movie. In the film, torture occurred in a room painted red and shown live on TV.

While there is no denying there are sites that were created and broadcasted videos of sexual assault and abuse, these weren’t on the dark web. There are also certain TV stations that in the mid-2000’s used to live stream suicide cases.

In this age of social media and accessible internet, it has become a lot easier for people to record or go live on social networks while committing murder. One such case was in 2015 when Facebook and Twitter users watched a murder case because of the autoplay settings. In 2016, Facebook was used by terrorists to broadcast their propaganda. These cases suggest that social networks have given rise to the idea of red rooms. Especially, with the beheadings western of journalists by jihadists that were covered in the news and on social media.

There is no doubt that both traditional and social media play a key role in the spread of horrific visual content.

Are Red Rooms Real?

what are red rooms

Although some people claim that they have been able to access a red room, all the sites claiming to offer such type of content have so far turned out to be fake. While there’s no denying that there are people who seek out this type of content, sites like the red room only help people think that they’ve stumbled upon a hidden part of the internet that wasn’t supposed to be found. However, almost all of these sites are operated by scammers who want to get their hands on bitcoin.

In addition, even if ‘Pay per View’ torture sites do exist, they most certainly don’t work over the Tor network. Why? Because Tor networks are slow, making it impossible to stream a live video. That means it would be extremely hard to live-stream murder or torture.

Our research suggests that red rooms are a myth. They became popular because of traditional and social media. People can write anything they wish on the internet. Millions of people read it. And that is enough to make people believe something exists even if it doesn’t.

The dark web is a small collection of sites that work perfectly for criminals who deal in drugs, weapons, and stolen data, etc., and for journalists, dissidents, and activists who need an anonymous network to communicate.

Red rooms seem to be nothing more than an urban legend. To date, no real evidence has emerged to suggest otherwise. However, there are still individuals on the dark (and surface) web who claim that they exist.

How to Find Out Whether Your Information is Being Sold on the Darknet

in Deep Web/Hacking
Dark Web Scan

Illegal darknet marketplaces house plenty of illicitly acquired information including people’s personal information, email addresses, and credit card details. While Tor browsers can help you gain access to the dark web, they can’t help you check whether your information is being sold on the dark web.

In this article, you will discover whether a dark web scan is worth the money and learn how to find out if your information is being sold on the darknet.

What is a Dark Web Scan?

Dark web scans are services that promise to search for your personal information on the dark web to see if criminals are selling it. The dark web acts as a market place for such information because it’s not easily accessible like most normal browsers. This makes it easy for one to escape authorities. Besides, dark webs help hide your location so that you don’t get caught. This particular feature of the dark web is why darknet marketplaces such as Silk Road grew in popularity as a market place for illicit drugs, guns, and other illegal activities.

Examples of Paid & Free Dark Web Scans:

Although dark web scans promise to find whether your information is up for sale, a common limitation with them is that they don’t scan the entire dark web for your personal data.

free dark web scan
Image of Free Dark Web Scan by Experia

There are thousands of .onion sites on the dark web. This means that it’s impossible to search online for each dark web site and then, look for your personal information on all of them.

Even if we were to assume that dark web scans have the ability to scan the entire public dark web, it would still be hard to find your personal information. Why? Because criminals would treat that as exclusive information and exchange it privately. This means you would have a close to zero percent chance of knowing if your information is on the dark web or not.

As a result, dark web scans are not worth paying for and using to see whether you can find your personal data on the dark web. You may try free dark web scans but the results will likely also not suffice to ensure your data is not for sale.

Search for Account Breaches

Now more than ever, data breaches are very common. What that means is that you are better of assuming that your personal information is already available online and can easily be accessed by criminals. Several companies in the past have shared sensitive information on people including social security numbers. This contributes to the data that black hat hackers steal and share online if their demands aren’t met.

As mentioned, dark web scans don’t have the capacity to scan the entire dark web. However, there are other alternatives that you can consider. One such way of doing that is by using the ‘Have I Been Pwned’ website.

However, it’s important to note that such services don’t scan to see whether your credit card or social security number is up for sale on the dark web. In fact, unlike dark web scans, they don’t promise that. Instead, they inform you whether your email address or password can be found in the over 322 data dumps available from different websites.

Searching the Dark Web

There’s really no way of knowing whether your information if up for sale on dark web sites. At least, not with all the sites that can’t be entirely searched or scanned. And although sites like ‘Have I Been Pwned’ can tell you of all the data breaches that your email address is linked to, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your personal data has been compromised.

That said, you shouldn’t pay any dark web scan company to search the dark web for you as the results will be futile. Instead, you could choose to freeze your credit, use a password manager for your passwords, log off any system after use, and carry out your transactions only if you have a secure connection. Basic cybersecurity principles will go a long way in protecting your personal data online.

Best Free VPN for Torrenting: Our Top 3 Picks for 2019

in Privacy
Best Free VPN for Torrenting

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become increasingly popular over the years. VPNs provide an extra layer of security and privacy for internet users.

However, not all VPNs are created equal. Some VPNs are slow while others don’t provide sufficient leak protection to safeguard the identifying information of users. Others don’t allow for torrenting while some keep the logs of user activities.

If you are looking for the best free VPN for torrenting, we have created a list of our top three picks for 2019.

Windscribe

best free vpn

Windscribe is an excellent free VPN that also comes with a paid version. What makes this Canada-based VPN a good choice for users looking for the best VPN for torrenting is that it allows users to use it for torrent protection and deletes all connection logs three minutes after a user terminates their session.

While the paid version is excellent, the free version is also a good choice. You get access to servers in eleven countries, including the US and Canada. In addition, Windscribe doesn’t place any speed restriction on the free version. Instead, it has a 10GB data cap, which is a lot for a free VPN. The data allowance is reset every month on the same day that you signed up.

Users can use this VPN as a browser extension or an app. The browser extension is available Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. The app is available for macOS X, macOS, Windows, and Android. On iOS, you will have to connect to Windscribe through a third-party app while you can manually install it on Linux and routers.

Windscribe offers strong encryption by utilizing the RSA with a 4096-bit key for establishing sessions while the main data cipher uses AES with a 256-bit key.

Pro

  • Can be used for torrent protection
  • Connection logs are deleted three minutes after a session is terminated
  • Access to servers in 11 different countries

Cons

  • Records all data consumed by free each free account
  • Has a data cap

CyberGhost

best free vpn

CyberGhost is another free VPN service that you can use for torrenting. However, it’s only available to use for free as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. This is because the browser extensions have been built on the blockchain and can be accessed in countries where other free VPNs aren’t available. CyberGhost has to do away with the free app version due to security concerns. While the paid version is an excellent choice, the free version is equally good as well and a one of the best VPN for torrenting free. However, the free version doesn’t protect your torrent uploads or downloads.

In addition, whenever users connect to a server, they’ll get ad pop-ups advertising the paid VPN while queueing. The queue frequently starts in the thousands. This means users have to wait before they are connected. Of course, this can be annoying should a user accidentally choose the wrong server. While speeds on this free version are reduced, it’s faster than the speeds of some paid-for VPNs available in the market. Unlike Windscribe, CyberGhost has no data limits but, video streaming and torrenting optimization options are not available on the free version.

Similar to Windscribe, users also get access to servers in eleven countries. While the free VPN can be only be utilized on one device, the restriction can’t be executed as you users don’t need to identify themselves.

Pros

  • Faster speeds compared to some paid-for VPNs
  • It doesn’t have a data cap and users enjoy the no logs policy
  • There is no identification required in order for users to download or use the app
  • Server accessibility from eleven different countries

Cons

  • It’s not as good as the paid version
  • Torrent uploads and downloads aren’t protected
  • Lacks the tracker and ad-blocking feature as well as the data compression feature

Hide.me

best VPN for torrenting

Hide.me is the best torrent VPN for anyone that’s keen on torrenting without any restriction. The Malaysia-based VPN service operates under a no-logs policy thanks to the legal landscape in the country. That means that no user information – including IP addresses – are logged. The free service has a data cap of 2GB a month and users get speeds of at least 3 MBPS. Hide.me has apps for all the major platforms, including Android and iPhone. Users can also install it manually on Linux computers and routers.

While this free version supports P2P file sharing, it only gives you access to servers in three different countries and supports one connection per account. Security-conscious users may find the lack of OpenVPN or SoftEther support a bit disappointing. However, the service does support IKEv2 which has the AES encryption with a 256-bit key. It also supports PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, and IPSec.

Pros

  • Has a no-log policy
  • Allows users to torrent without any restrictions
  • It has apps for all the major platforms such as iPhone and Android
  • Supports IKEv2, PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, and IPSec

Cons

  • Limited server connections
  • Has a 2GB data cap per month
  • Only one account can be connected

It’s important to note that torrenting copyrighted files is illegal and the Dark Web Journal doesn’t condone illegal activities. However, we do care about safety and privacy in the digital age.

Best Hacker Movies and Documentaries to Watch in 2019

in Hacking
hacker movies

We have compiled a list of the best hacker movies and documentaries that you can watch in 2019. If you want to learn more about hacking or simply enjoy the subject matter, this list will be useful to you. Enjoy watching!

Best Hacker Documentaries

Below, you will find a list of the top hacking documentaries you can watch to learn more about what hackers get up to.

Hackers Are People Too

Hackers Are People Too is a 2008 hacker documentary by Ashley Schwartau. The documentary was filmed at two hacker conferences. It pieces together interviews with dozens of hackers to create an accurate portrayal of the hacking community.

The 45-minute long film attempts to deconstruct the negative overtone of the term ‘hacker.’ This documentary doesn’t take a deep dive on the technicalities of what hacking is. Instead, it focuses on the people, the hacking community, and the good done by white hat hackers.

This documentary is for anyone that wants to know what hackers are really like.

The Secret History of Hacking

The Secret History of Hacking is a 2001 documentary that was produced by Mira King and directed by Ralph Lee. This Discovery Channel hacker documentary delves into computer hacking, phreaking, and social engineering. It also focuses on the lives of famous and infamous hackers.

The Secret History of Hacking also takes a look at where hacking began, how we got to where we are today, and why hacking continues to be resilient. The 50-minute long film is informative without necessarily feeling dry.

This is one of the best hacker documentaries for anyone that is keen on learning the real history surrounding modern hacking.

Hackers Wanted

Hackers Wanted is a 2009 documentary that was never officially released. The documentary was written and directed by Sam Bozzo and narrated by Kevin Spacey who also co-produced it.

The documentary failed to get a release date because of differing opinions witnessed within the production team regarding the film’s final quality. Still, a copy of this film eventually made it online on the BitTorrent network.

The film takes a look at the origin and nature of hacking by following the life of Adrian Lamo. Lamo was a hacker-turned-security analyst who found himself running from the FBI overnight. The events in the following days were captured and made into this documentary.

This is a good film for anyone that is keen on contrasting Lamo’s story with that of other controversial figures throughout the hacking history.

The Great Hack

The Great Hack is a 2019 documentary by Netflix that follows the Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018. The Cambridge Analytica saga is one of the biggest tech controversies to have happened in recent years. Cambridge Analytica privately collected Facebook data of 87 million users to manipulate voters. The company allegedly helped Donald Trump to win his 2016 election and helped pass the UK Brexit referendum.

The film starts by graphically showing how data from people leaked from their laptops and phones and recordings involving a few key players. The Great Hack pieces together the story of a company brought down by its own unethical behavior.

The film raises questions surrounding cultural polarization and privacy. It is a must-watch for anyone curious about how companies use people’s data to push their own agenda.

Best Hacker Movies

Below, you will find a list of top hacker movies that you can watch for entertainment purposes.

Hackers

Hackers is a 1995 movie that was written by Rafael Moreu and directed by Iain Softley. The film follows an eleven-year-old teenage hacker who is charged with crashing over 1,500 Wall Street computers. He is banned from using touch-tone phones and computers until he is 18 years. On his 18th birthday, he receives a computer and uses it to hack into the computer network of a local TV station. This move sets him on a downward spiral where he ends up meeting a group of high school hackers.

The film is a must-watch for anyone keen on seeing what havoc hackers can cause.

Who Am I?

Who Am I is a 2014 hacker movie directed by Baran bo Obar. The film follows Benjamin, a computer expert who is lonely. Benjamin learned to program at a young age and started hacking at 14.

His parents died when he was young and he lived with his grandmother. He felt like a loser in real life but the internet gave him a sense of belonging. He would later meet with Max, who, together with his other friends come together to form a computer hacker group known as CLAY.

Who Am I is a thriller movie with a plot that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

WarGames

WarGames is one of the best hacker movies and a classic. John Badham directed this 1983 movie.

The movie follows the story of a teenage hacker, David Lightman, who hacks into the War Operation Plan Response (WOPR) belonging to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) mainframe system by accident. Lightman thinks the WOPR is a computer game and gets it to run a nuclear war simulation. Unknown to him, he sets the country’s nuclear forces rolling in what would lead it to World War III.

Being a classic, WarGames is a must-watch for anyone keen on understanding the danger hackers can cause when they gain access to private information.

In case we have missed any hacker movies or documentaries, feel free to share them with us on Twitter.

Is the Dark Web/Deep Web Illegal?

in Deep Web
Is the Dark Web Illegal

When you first hear about the dark web, you may ask yourself: “Is the dark web illegal?” Given how much criminal activity takes place on it, you would expect it to be.

In this article, you will learn what the dark web and deep web are and whether it is illegal or not to access them.

What is the Deep Web?

is the deep web illegal

The deep web is just below the surface and not entirely dark. It refers to any website that is not readily accessible through a normal search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. Why? Because the content on the deep web hasn’t been indexed by search engines. Simply put, the deep web is just another level of the internet found below the surface.

The deep web contains different types of content. Because it is invisible to traditional search engines, some of the content found on the deep web includes personal email accounts, social media accounts, banking accounts, medical records, legal documents, data stored by companies on their private databases as well as academic and scientific databases.

Is the Deep Web Illegal?

The short and simple answer is no, the deep web is not illegal.

The deep web is legal and compared to the dark web, it is a pretty safe place. The dark web is a small representation of the deep web. Most dark websites tend to be associated with illegal activities. Accessing information on the deep web is pretty safe.

For example, most people check their credit card statements and emails online without a single worry. However, that does not mean that examining that information is risk-free.

Although the deep web is a relatively safe place, it is always important to practice some safe internet traits. For starters, ensure you use a strong and unique password for all your accounts. The deep web has plenty of your personal details that criminals value. A strong password can make it hard for them to access these details.

Secondly, be careful when accessing your personal information on the deep web using a public Wi-Fi network that is unprotected. Instead, you can use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN network helps protect your privacy online and encrypts your data. Also, be wary of phishing which happens largely through spam emails so that you don’t end up sharing private information.

What is the Dark Web?

is the dark web illegal

While the deep web is in some instances used in place of the dark web, the two are completely different things. The deep web, as we have discussed, mostly contains digitized records and harmless data. However, the same cannot be said for the dark web. The dark web is mostly associated with criminal activity.

Dark web websites are not accessible using regular browsers such as Chrome or Opera. Instead, for you to access them, you will need to use what is known as specialized darknet browsers, such as Tor.

Publishers of dark web websites are also anonymous. This is because of the special encryptions that the protocol provides. The addresses for dark web websites usually end with. onion. This is unlike the surface web’s addresses that end with .com, .gov or .org. The .onion address ensures that you are not browsing the interlinked servers that you frequently interact with. Instead, everything remains internal on the Tor network thus providing privacy and security to everyone.  

Is the Dark Web Illegal?

Just like the deep web, the dark web is not illegal. However, the dark web is largely used for illegal activities by criminals who buy and sell narcotics, guns, personal details, and counterfeits products, among others.

Because the dark web is mostly associated with illegal activities, most people fail to see the other side of the dark web, which is used by whistleblowers and journalists. It is also a haven for political protesters, citizens of political regimes that are oppressive as well as human rights advocacy groups.

On the dark web, you can buy anything that you can think of, including things that you would never imagine. So, while the dark web itself may not be illegal, a large amount of the content found on it is.

Why Does the Deep Web and Dark Web Exist?

The dark web and the deep web exist because they provide a certain degree of anonymity and privacy.

The deep web exists to help protect your personal information and company data. The dark web, on the other hand, has a ton of illegal content but as long as you avoid visiting those sites or making purchases of illicit goods or services, you are not breaking the law.

Top 5 Biggest Darknet Markets in History

in Deep Web/Features
Darknet Markets

Since the emergence of Silk Road eight years ago, the concept of darknet markets has remained the same. A darknet marketplace is a commercial platform found on the dark web where individuals can buy and sell products such as drugs, stolen credit cards, weapons, and cyber-arms, among other illicit goods, anonymously.

Following the model created by Silk Road, present-day darknet marketplaces are still characterized by their use of unidentified access, bitcoin payment with escrow services, and encrypted feedback systems.

In this article, we take a look at the top five biggest darknet markets in the history of the dark web.

Silk Road

Silk Road darknet market
Image from http://www.thehiddenwiki.net/

Silk Road, founded in 2011 by Ross Ulbricht, was the first online darknet market. The dark web marketplace was once described as “the internet’s Wild West and the eBay of vice”. It was a haven for document forgers, gun runners, and drug dealers. Although Silk Road was only active for a little over two years, it kickstarted the black market on the dark web.

The Rise

Since it was operated under a hidden service, users were able to anonymously and securely browse the website without their traffic being monitored. Communication on the site was encrypted and anonymous and transactions were conducted using bitcoin.

Although Silk Road was launched in February of 2011, its development had started six months earlier. Initially, this dark web market offered a restricted number of new seller accounts. That meant that new sellers had to buy a new account during an auction. Eventually, Silk Road started charging a fee for every new seller account. Before it was closed by the FBI in 2013, Silk Road reportedly had registered 900,000 users and generated over $1.2 billion in sales.

The Fall

Silk Road was shut down in October 2013 and its operator, Ulbricht, was arrested, which marked the end of Silk Road. It is believed the FBI infiltrated Silk Road and flipped most of Ulbricht’s close associates. They also used the identities of the associates to unravel Silk Road, which eventually led to the discovery of Ulbricht. He was convicted of eight different charges linked to Silk Road and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

AlphaBay

AlphaBay darknet market
[Public Domain] – Screenshot of the defunct AlphaBay darknet market from the US Justice Department’s forfeiture notice.

With Silk Road closed and its founder arrested, many thought there would never be another darknet market like it. That wasn’t the case, however, when AlphaBay came into the picture. The AlphaBay marketplace was launched in December 2014 and was one of the biggest dark web drug marketplaces before it was shut down in July 2017.

The Rise

After the first 90 days of being in operation, AlphaBay was able to register about 14,000 new users. The number steadily grew and by October 2015, the site had more than 200,000 users. At that point, it was the largest online darknet marketplace.

In May of the same year, AlphaBay announced the integration of the escrow system and digital contracts. It also started accepting other cryptocurrencies besides bitcoin, such as Monero. By the time the site was shut down, it had more than 400,000 users.

The Fall

AlphaBay grew to be ten times the size of Silk Road by July of 2017. The site had more than 369,000 listings and was processing about $600,000 – $800,000 daily transactions. AlphaBay’s demise was a result of operational security errors.

The founder, Alexandre Cazes – then 25 years of age and a Canadian citizen – was arrested in Thailand on July 5, 2017. Cazes would, later on, die while in custody in Thailand. The Justice Department in Thailand said he took his own life. Cazes had several charges against him such as identity theft, narcotics distribution, and money laundering, among others.

Wall Street Market

Wall Street Market
Image by https://blockfxgold.com/

The Wall Street Market was considered the second-largest darknet market globally. The onion website was used to sell illegal products and services. Two weeks before the shutdown of Wall Street Market, the site’s administrators reportedly made away with $14.2 million worth of digital currencies from the accounts of their vendors and users in what is referred to as an exit scam.

The Rise

Wall Street Market, like other darknet marketplaces, was used for the buying and selling of illegal products. Payments were made using cryptocurrencies and the site had integrated an escrow system.

Wall Street became popular after Dream Market was shutdown leaving users scrambling to find another platform. What most users didn’t realize, was that Wall Street market was an exit scam. Before the shutdown, Wall Street stopped making payouts to vendors for completed orders. Instead, the funds collected were transferred into one BTC wallet and orders were never shipped. When users became suspicious, Wall Street put out a message that they were having technical difficulties and that any missing bitcoin would be returned. This was never to be.

The Fall

While Wall Street users were going through this turmoil, one of the moderators started blackmailing buyers and vendors who had shared unencrypted messages requesting for 0.05 bitcoin or else he would disclose their details to law enforcement. While it is not clear if the extortion attempts were successful, the moderator went ahead and posted the IP address and login details for the site’s backend on Dread, a Reddit-like community for dark web users.

It is believed that this exposure led to the takedown of the site and allowed law enforcement to make arrests of individuals who were believed to be behind Wall Street Market as well as vendors.

Hansa

Hansa dark web marketplace
FBI [Public domain] – Seizure notice placed on Hansa market website by the authorities

After AlphaBay was shut down, the buyers and vendors of illegal products went looking for other darknet markets that could allow them to continue their illegal trade. Hansa was one of the alternatives that users moved to and it started seeing an increase in the number of users after AlphaBay went under. In fact, the Dutch police reported that the site saw an increase in the number of daily visitors which grew from 1,000 to 8,000.

The Rise

After AlphaBay was taken down, Hansa experienced increased traffic. On average, there were about 1,000 orders every day in response to about 40,000 ads. Hansa continued growing its footprint to over 1,765 vendors.

While most users saw Hansa as their go-to site for buying and selling illegal products, little did they know that the police were operating it undercover. The police collected information on both vendors and customers by recording data that came from the over 50,000 cryptocurrency transactions. It is believed that the police received a lot of information about the darknet market ecosystem from their undercover operation on Hansa.

The Fall

Once the police had gathered enough information, they took over the site. The Netherlands Police worked with Europol, Lithuania, Germany, and the US to gather the information that helped take down the site. The investigations also revealed that the two administrators running Hansa lived in Germany.

Dream Market

Dream Market
Image by Reliance GCS

Dream shut down in April 2019 happened under unclear circumstances. Dream informed its users about the shutdown by informing them when it would happen. While commerce halted, users were still able to access their accounts and withdraw funds.

The Rise

Dream was in operations for six years by one tight-lipped admin known as ‘Speedsteppers’. Unlike Ulbricht, who constantly gave his views, Speedsteppers was able to keep everything on the down-low. Hence, the lengthy run of the Dream darknet market. The site’s popularity grew and by the time it was closing, it had hundreds of thousands of listing that generated millions of dollars every week.

The Fall

In April 2019, Dream users found a message informing them that the site was shutting down on April 30, 2019, and open on another site. One of Dream’s admin going by the name ‘Hugbunter’ claimed on Dread that the site had been held at ransom by a hacker for $400,000 and they had refused to pay. This wasn’t a complete surprise as two months before the actual closure, Dream had experienced several cyberattacks rendering the site inaccessible. Whether Dream was forced into shut down by law enforcement officers or not is a question that remains unanswered.

Best Dark Web Documentaries And Movies to Watch in 2019

in Deep Web
dark web documentaries

If you are keen on learning more about the dark web, then you’ve come to the right place. We have compiled a list of the best dark web documentaries and movies that you can watch to learn more about the “hidden internet.”

Top 6 Best Dark Web Documentaries And Movies

Deep Web

Deep Web is a documentary that was produced in 2015 by Alex Winter. The documentary follows the events surrounding bitcoin, the politics of the dark web, and Silk Road before it was shut down by the FBI. Winter dives deep into the murky extent of cyberspaces while shedding light on the arrest and trial of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged maker of Silk Road, who ran it under the pseudonym ‘Dead Pirate Roberts’.

Silk Road was an online black market where users were able to buy and sell illegal drugs. At its peak, Silk Road reportedly registered close to 900,000 users and generated more than $1.2 billion in sales. This deep web documentary explores issues such as cryptography, digital rights, bitcoin, and the war on drugs.

Anonymous

Anonymous, also called Hackers, is a 2016 dark web documentary based on true events. Directed by Akan Satayev, the film takes a look at the devastating consequences that hackers can cause. The story follows Alex, a young Ukranian immigrant, who lives a life marred by domestic strife. He is inspired by the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and wants to go to college. He starts saving college money by doing dubious online jobs as a ‘clicker’. When his mother gets fired from the local bank she has been working at, Alex uses his college savings to pay for the mortgage and finds himself in need of cash.

He hooks up with his friend Sye – a black market dealer – who helps him make a lot of money. They partner with Kira, who unbeknownst to them, is a mole working for the FBI and also has feelings for Alex. What starts out as revenge, becomes an obsession that sees them cause chaos.

Unfriended: Dark Web

Unfriended: Dark Web is a horror movie written and directed by Stephen Susco and was produced in 2018. This dark web movie is a sequence to the 2014 movie, Unfriended. It follows a young man who comes into possession of a laptop. He gathers five of his good friends and together they go online to play a game. He shows them a folder that has disturbing videos of people who seem to be in danger. They then get a mysterious message informing them that they will die if they call the police or disconnect the laptop.

Unbeknownst to the young man, the previous owner has not only been watching him and his friends but will do anything to have his laptop back. The planned game night soon turns deadly as each one of them become targets while the rest have to watch helplessly in horror.

Down the Deep, Dark, Hidden Web

Down the Deep, Dark, Hidden Web is arguably the best dark web documentary. Yuval Orr produced the film in 2017. The documentary takes viewers beyond everything they thought they knew about the promises and dangers of the dark web. The film follows Orr – a journalist – as he talks to people who inhabit the encrypted, hidden internet. Duki Dror and Tzachi Schiff, the directors, follow Orr as he travels to different locations. From Israel to Europe, he conducts a myriad of interviews with different personalities including traffickers, crypto-anarchists, hackers, and security experts who operate on the dark web.

In his documentary, Orr also takes a look into privacy and security. He interviews activists on the philosophy and mechanics of how secure communication leads to free thought and why people should care about encryption.  

Inside the Dark Web

Inside the Dark Web is a BBC documentary created by Michael Radford in 2014. The film explores the topic of internet surveillance with a focus on the advantages and disadvantages of everything that passes over the World Wide Web being able to be recorded, watched and analyzed. The documentary takes a look at surveillance by both governments and commercial entities. Big organizations acquire as much information as they can about what people search, their interests and traffic to target paid ads of products that you would want to buy. On the other hand, governments acquire such information for their own monitoring purposes.

The Darknet: A Journey into the Digital Underworld

The Darknet: A Journey into the Digital Underworld is a documentary that was produced by ARD in 2017. The film explores the darknet as an unknown world that “you can only enter if you know how to surf the net anonymously”. While it is associated mostly with drug dealers, hackers, and traffickers, the film also sheds light on how the darknet is the last free speech bastion for human rights advocates, activists, whistleblowers, and journalists who are being traced by intelligence agencies and dictators.

If you want to learn more about the dark web, check out our guide to the dark web. Also, have a look at our list of the best dark web books of 2019.

In case we have missed any films on our list, feel free to share them with us on Twitter.

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