What is the Dark Net? FOX28's Tom Powell reports - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

What is the Dark Net? FOX28's Tom Powell reports

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Example of illegal drugs found during our search Example of illegal drugs found during our search
29-year-old Andrew Korpral was arrested in a child porn investigation tied to the Dark Net 29-year-old Andrew Korpral was arrested in a child porn investigation tied to the Dark Net
The internet is likely a big part of your daily life, but have you heard of the deeper part of the internet called the Dark Net?  Todd Shipley is a cyber-crimes expert who trains law enforcement about the Dark Net.  He spoke to us via Skype from his office in Reno.  "Basically it's an internet within the internet," he says.  "A place where people can go using fairly simple software tools that allow them to communicate with others in an antonymous fashion where their communications are encrypted."

He says the most common simple software people use is called Tor.  According to the Tor Project's website it helps protect your anonymity by "bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world."

"The space is not governed by anybody," Shipley says.  "It's out there in the open."

Notre Dame Senior Director for IT Service Delivery Mike Chapple took us for a Dark Net test drive from his office on campus.  "But since I'm connected to the Tor Network, as you can see here it's showing me that I'm in the Netherlands, so the system in Roosendaal, Netherlands is where any website I visit thinks I am," he says.  That anonymity has lead to all kinds of illicit marketplaces.  "You'll see there's people offering driver's licenses and fake ID's for sale."

We found posts offering counterfeit cash, plenty of high-powered weapons, even a site claiming to be run by three contract killers who advertise that they'll kill your target for $5,000, as long as the person isn't under 16 or a top 10 politician.  Then there's all the drugs.  We found cocaine advertised as "high quality" complete with customer testimonials like you'd find on Amazon.  

In 2013 police reportedly arrested a teen in Fishers, Indiana who admitted ordering drugs on the Dark Net after his mother found the drugs in the mail.

There was also a case in Granger.  29-year-old Andrew Korpral got busted in a child porn investigation tied to the Dark Net.  "There are bad places in every town that you wouldn't let your kid walk and that's the same thing on the internet," Shipley says.  "You have to be aware that there are these places out there."

Shipley says Tor was originally developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.  He says it eventually became open-source, but the government still helps fund Tor.  

"It's basic research into communications technology and into antonymous communications,"  Chapple says.  "So if you think about the reasons the Dark Net came into existence, a lot of it's around facilitating the growth of democracy."

Experts say dissidents living in oppressive regimes use it to stay undetected.  Journalists also use the Dark Net.  The Washington Post operates a "secure drop" on the Dark Net for whistle blowers.  "It allows them to give their sources complete anonymity," Chapple says.  "I wouldn't try to classify it (the Dark Net) as a good thing or a bad thing.  I really think of it as a tool, and just like any other tool you can use it for good purposes, you can use it for bad purposes."
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