While surface and deep web content is familiar and readily accessible to most Internet users via web browsers and search engines, the ‘Dark Net’ is a largely unknown environment, intentionally concealed and accessible only using specific tools. Content in the dark web is reached via rendezvous points that are accessed through a series of encrypted nodes, relays, and bridges that continually redirect traffic randomly around the network.

As its name suggests, the Dark Net abounds with illegal and illicit content, and attracts the types of individuals that seek to buy, sell, and communicate with other like-minded individuals. It is also something of a safe haven for those involved in such nefarious activities as the production and distribution of child exploitation imagery, terrorism, organized crime, and murder, as well as many other types of criminal behavior and dishonorable conduct.

Conversely, it also provides sanctuary and an avenue for unrestricted communication for those individuals who reside in regions where free speech is restricted or met with punishment. Through the TOR browser, those individuals are able to bypass
administrative controls and access the World Wide Web with relative impunity.

Delving deep into the world of web and browser-based anonymizers, proxy server, and virtual private networks, which may enable individuals to obfuscate their identity and that of their network, while circumventing administrative controls and censorship, this engaging program will explore access to underground networks, illegal and illicit activity, and virtual transactions.

Attendees will consider and discuss the legal and moral implications, as well as the consequences of exposure to this type of research, the creation and use of “ghost” identities, the ethics of covert investigations, and the methods for bringing Dark Net investigations into the light. Attendees will examine case studies, explore digital currencies, and conduct research exercises that cross the chasm between the Surface, Deep, and Dark Web.

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