The Dark Web is part of the unindexed section of the Deep Web, which makes up a significant portion of the internet. The Dark Web itself can be accessed through a special browser (TOR-The Onion Router) which bounces around IP addresses, constantly changing between layers, to protect anonymity.

We have heard of unscrupulous, illegal, and shockingly immoral behavior the Dark Web seems to entertain for several years now. Silk Road was a popular site where people could purchase illegal drugs, ranging from psychedelic mushrooms to LSD to OxyContin. Authorities have shut it down and little success by similar sites has been encountered, thanks to zealous monitoring by law enforcement from multiple countries. Drugs, however, are hardly the worst of it. One can reportedly buy databases loaded with stolen credit card numbers and passwords, exchange child pornography, transact human trafficking negotiations, and…..hire someone to be taken out?

Crazy Dark Web Examples

Recently, there have been several reports of individuals who have been either arrested or convicted for attempting to hire or apply to be a hitman online to end someone else’s life.

Examples include:

  • A 21 year old Tennessee Air National Guardsman was arrested in April for sending in a resume to a parody site (which he must’ve missed the parody part) to become a hitman for hire, using the self promoting ‘put me in coach” phrase. While this didn’t occur on the dark web, it is presumed the accused thought the actual business solicitations would move there once he was hired.
  • A Tennessee (sorry Volunteers) woman was arrested last month for attempting to hire a hitman from a site named “Online Killers Market”, her target was the wife of a man she had become chummy with on a dating site. The price? $10k, which seems inexpensive, considering I watched a western the other day in which a dead or alive bounty in 1875 was worth twice that amount. According to the complaint, her request was conditioned with “It needs to seem random or [an] accident. Or plant drugs; do not want a long investigation,” In other words, she has watched 10-12 too many Lifetime movies.
  • Finally, a Virginia woman pled guilty last week for answering an ad on the dark web soliciting a murder-for-hire arrangement targeting a man she apparently had a personal conflict with. The price negotiated was $3,200.00, which is roughly what it cost to have my car repaired last year.

Reasons to Use the Dark Web

Are hitman for hire sites real? While they have been known to exist in the past, the vast majority of these sites are either scams to steal bitcoin from someone who probably would be reluctant to report it or ongoing stings by law enforcement.

So is there a good reason to use the dark web? If you are law enforcement, yes. It is a fertile ground for intelligence on all types of crime. If you are in the business of cyber threat intelligence, yes. There is multiple techniques, tactics, and procedural information to be found as well as braggadocios accounts of hacks. If you are a journalist or whistleblower in an oppressive country, perhaps-if you really have that as the only option to pass information. For all others, not really. If you are that curious, watch a video of a dark web surfer on Youtube.

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Joe Jabara, JD, is the Director, of the Hub, For Cyber Education and Awareness, Wichita State University. He also serves as an adjunct faculty at two other universities teaching Intelligence and Cyber Law. Prior to his current job, he served 30 years in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Kansas Air National Guard. His last ten years were spent in command/leadership positions, the bulk of which were at the 184th Intelligence Wing as Vice Commander.