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The Dark Web - What Parents Need to Know

With recent security intrusions in credit reporting agencies like Experian, a new phrase has entered
The Dark Web - What Parents Need to Know
By Cyber Safety Cop • Issue #11 • View online
With recent security intrusions in credit reporting agencies like Experian, a new phrase has entered the public consciousness: The Dark Web. Actually, the Dark Web is not new at all. It has been around since 1997. So what is it?

The Dark Web is an encrypted network that exists between Tor servers and their clients, and is outside the mainstream Internet. Since the Dark Web is encrypted, which makes its users anonymous, it is rife with illegal activity including pirated movies, child pornography, and illegal drug sales. There are real threats for anyone who goes there and especially for those that transact with its drug black market. In 2013, an Australian teen died after taking drugs purchased on a Dark Web drug-trafficking site called Silk Road. But there are legitimate uses too, such avoiding the eyes of totalitarian governments, investigative journalism, and sleuthing by FBI agents. It sounds like the stuff of James Bond, and may be enticing for a curious tech-savvy teen.
To get in, you need a special browser (usually Tor). If your child downloads Tor or knows other kids who are on it, it’s important to talk about the implications. The Dark Web isn’t a safe place to hang out. Here are some things to discuss:
The Dark Web is dangerous. The Dark Web has a strong criminal element. Viewing or downloading media (pornography, pirated movies, etc.) could be a crime. Many of the files on the Tor’s chatrooms and P2P clients have viruses or malicious code that can hijack your computer and turn your information over to a criminal hacker. Even “just visiting” is risky.
Be aware of the apps that your child is downloading onto their computers. If you see the Tor browser installed on their computer, then they are accessing the Dark Web.
Children are searching for information on the mainstream Internet about sex, drug experimentation, pornography, and violence. Your child’s perceptions with regards to these issues are being discussed every day online, on their social media networks. Parents must educate themselves about the places their children are going online and learn how to engage their children in the digital world. 
Resources for parents:
Step-by-step guide to Internet safety for your family
Find or schedule a cyber safety seminar for parents at your school.
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Cyber Safety Cop

I am a law enforcement professional, school safety expert, and author of Parenting in the Digital World - A Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Safety. I am dedicated to teaching parents and children how to live safely at home, at school, and in their digital world.

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