The Dark Net was always going to be a hive of criminal activity.
Given an anonymous area to use as they please, people were always going to let their dark sides loose.
Over a quarter of darknet sites deal with drugs and the sale of other illegal items.
However, the traffic these sites generate is dwarfed when compared to that generated by sites that display child pornographic contents.
The work was carried out by researchers in their Computer Science department, and involved them volunteering 40 computers to act as relays for Tor’s hidden services.
For those who don’t know, this is how Tor accesses Deep Web sites, the request is passed through a random path of relays, none of which know where it came from, so the user’s identity is kept secret.
They then used a web crawling program to trace where the traffic was bound for. They then categorized the sites based on their content.
The first shocking result of the study was the sheer amount of botnet traffic that had to be processed.
However, once this was filtered out, and the remaining traffic analyzed, the real results started to come in.
Of the roughly 45,000 computers that were using Tor at any one moment, 83% were being used to view child exploitation sites.
Many of these sites were so explicit, that they actually had the word “pedo” in their domain name.
What is especially surprising about these results is that such websites account for less than 2% of the Dark Net.
It was always expected that pedophiles would use the Dark Net to remain anonymous while viewing illegal pornographic content, however, that it would be done to this extent could never have been anticipated.
It still cannot be said for certain that these results are 100% accurate, and some of those involved in the Tor project were quick to come to the defense of the Dark Net community.
Some of this traffic will have come from law enforcement and other monitors trying to locate sites that need to be shut down.
It is also not clear whether or not traffic generated by DDoS attacks, traffic generated to shut down websites, would have been included.
However, what definitely can be said is that the Dark Net is just that, dark.
With the further 24% of traffic that was generated by sites such as Agora and other marketplaces, you get 97% of traffic going to illegal activities.
That said, the 3% leftover, has contained some of the most important we content in history.
From WikiLeaks and other whistleblowing services, to showing people the importance of their anonymity, it still cannot be denied that the Dark Net is a good thing, even if some choose to abuse it.
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