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Underworld

The Dark Side of the Internet: Truth and Myths about the Forbidden Part of the World Wide Web

Illegal content, sale of weapons, illegal drugs … Many forums in which people communicate, feeling more or less calm, from the attention of supervising government bodies. All this is a dark web – a region of the Internet partially hidden from prying eyes (it is called DarkNet), with its help, many stories were untwisted, information scattered around the planet like sparks of a forest fire, the careers of the most influential people in the world were built and collapsed. Yes, this is an interesting but disturbing corner. If you plan to research it, check out some information that might be helpful.

Image Source: bbrief.co.za
Image Source: bbrief.co.za

Legality of visit

As a matter of fact, there is nothing illegal about surfing the dark web. The idea that a person commits a crime simply by going to a website that sells illegal goods is absurd. Now, if you make a deal on this list, then yes. Visitors do this at their own risk. Not all site owners and visitors are criminals. For example, many blogs, forums and other sites are locked into politics and sports.

Another question is that some discussions are extremely disliked by the top officials of different countries and they begin a natural hunt for those who posted “unnecessary” information, weaving various crazy laws here. In any case, it should be understood that this network was specially created for people interested in their anonymity. The key to visiting it is common sense. If some actions are considered illegal in everyday life, then in a hidden network, they will not become an example of decency.

Onion router

Most browsers can only view sites with certain top-level domain names. Such, for example, .com, .org, etc. However, the resources discussed in this article have an .onion pseudo-domain. And you can view them only thanks to special software – Tor or I2P .

These are anonymity programs where user identities and locations are protected by encryption technologies. Requests are routed through multiple servers, making tracking extremely difficult.

Tor browser logo.  Image source: torproject.org
Tor browser logo. Image source: torproject.org

It complicates but does not make it impossible. Therefore, especially careful guys insure themselves additionally by accessing the Internet through a virtual private network – VPN. And even that is not all. Simply typing a topic in a search engine and running through the results will not work. The visitor needs to know what exactly he is looking for. To do this, you can go to special sites to see a list of closed websites.

Caution scammers

The vast majority of illegal transactions are paid for with Bitcoin. As a decentralized form of currency, the payer is very difficult to be traces. However, to enhance peace of mind, mixing services were invented to make transactions completely anonymous. Hence the many scammers.

In the dark network, thousands of sites offering their goods. Prohibited goods, keys and passwords for programs, bank card numbers, personal information of citizens … And all merchants claim that they are the most honest and correct. Not always, but it often happens that the purchase never reaches the customer. And you won’t do anything special. By ordering a prohibited product, the buyer himself becomes a criminal. You cannot run to the law enforcement agencies, a revealing cry will not help. The seller will simply change his nickname on one of the shadow exchanges, calmly continuing his business.

Cybercrime

One of the most famous sites, at one time, was the Silk Road resource, offering fake identifiers, various substances of synthetic or natural origin, the use of which is addictive, etc. Its owner, using the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, has become, if not a folk hero, then a very famous figure in certain circles. In late 2013, the FBI managed to shut down the site and arrest the founder. It turned out to be the American Ross Ulbricht, who is still serving time without the possibility of parole.

In 2015, Daniel Moore and Thomas Reid, IT professionals at King’s College London, conducted research on the dark web for several weeks. About 3000 sites were examined, and 57% of them contained illegal materials.

Image source: spycloud.com
Image source: spycloud.com

AlphaBay and Hansa online sites have offered over 350,000 illegal items. It was estimated that in 2014 alone, the turnover of these resources amounted to more than $ 1.5 billion. By the joint efforts of the law enforcement agencies of the USA, the Netherlands and Europol, the trade was covered up, and some of the participants were arrested.

However, one should not think that everything is so bad. For example, the dark web has its own version of Facebook. If social networks are persecuted or monitored in the country, then it will not take long to look for an alternative. Representatives of intelligence and reporters of various kinds meet with their informants there, protecting the wards from hostile governments. And quite legal programs cooperate with the closed zone. Having met there, the parties can go to Telegram or Jabber to clarify questions and clarify details.

It turns out that the desire of the mighty of this world to control everything and everyone stumbles upon the desire of certain groups of people, if possible, to avoid this attention. On the other hand, we must not forget the proverb: “if the sun rises in the sky, then someone needs it.”

There are big doubts that a number of governments do not use, one way or another, the dark web to solve their, perhaps, not very beautiful tasks.

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Underworld

Havana Syndrome again? CIA officers are mowed down by a mysterious disease

A CIA officer in Moscow experienced symptoms of the so-called “Havana syndrome” in 2017. This became known to The New York Times with reference to sources in diplomatic circles.

CIA officer Mark Polimepulos, who helped lead covert operations in Russia and Europe, complained about the manifestation of mysterious symptoms. According to the newspaper, in December 2017, he felt severe dizziness, which later developed into a prolonged migraine, forcing him to retire. At that time, Polymerpoulos was 48 years old.

It is noted that such a case was not the only one. Similar symptoms were experienced by the staff of the American ambassadors in Cuba and China in 2016-2018. However, the exact number of cases and the place where this happened is not named. It is alleged that the US diplomats have tried to influence in a similar way around the world.

At the same time, the US State Department was unable to establish an unambiguous reason that caused the “Havana syndrome.” Among other things, it was assumed that the diplomats may have been exposed to an unidentified sound effect.

In 2017, it was reported that, beginning in late 2016, American diplomatic officials and their relatives in Cuba began to complain of symptoms such as hearing loss, nausea, headaches and balance disorder. 

The Associated Press received audio footage of the attack and described the harassing sounds as “the high-pitched sound of crickets combined with fingernails scratching on a board.” Then the American government suggested that Russia or China could be the culprit.

Many victims are still undergoing rehabilitation. Specialists from the University of Pennsylvania performed magnetic resonance imaging and revealed visible changes in the structure of the brain in the diplomatic missions.

Differences were found in 23 men and 17 women who complained of health problems while on diplomatic duties in Havana. Scientists have yet to figure out what causes the unusual symptoms.

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Underworld

How Russia and the United States nearly started a nuclear war in 1995

The Norwegian meteorological rocket incident remains the only time in history that the Russian president has activated his nuclear briefcase.

On January 25, 1995, Doomsday could have come in the world: the Russian Federation was preparing to launch a nuclear strike on the United States. How did it come about that the states that left the confrontation of the Cold War in the past and had just normalized relations with each other found themselves on the verge of mutual destruction?

The beginning of the war?

The cause of the crisis was an ordinary Norwegian meteorological rocket. Its launch from the small island of Anneia at 7 am local time (10 am Moscow time) towards Spitsbergen caused a stir in Russia. 

Black Brant XII.

Black Brant XII. Legion Media / ZUMA Press

Equipped with scientific equipment to study the aurora borealis, the Black Brant XII was similar in size to the nuclear-powered American Trident D-5 ballistic missile, intended for launch from submarines. In addition, it flew along a trajectory along which, as the Russian Defense Ministry believed, American missiles would fly in the event of a nuclear war. 

In December 1994, Norway informed 28 states, including Russia, about the planned launch, but did not give a specific date, limiting itself to specifying the period: from January 15 to February 10 of the next year. Due to bureaucratic delays, this information did not reach the Russian Missile Warning System, which sounded the alarm.

Decisive minutes

An emergency meeting with the country’s top political and military leadership was convened in the Kremlin. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov and President of the Russian Federation (as Supreme Commander-in-Chief) Boris Yeltsin had three strategic missile forces control terminals activated – the so-called nuclear suitcases.

Vladimir Sayapin / TASS

The military believed the lone missile could have been fired to create an electromagnetic pulse that knocked out Russian radars and communications systems. Following it, a massive blow could be expected.

For several tense minutes, as leaders watched it flight, it was decided whether Russia would launch a nuclear strike against the United States. 

“Little is known today about what Yeltsin said at the time, given that it could have been some of the most dangerous moments in the entire history of the nuclear era,” The Washington Post journalist, David Hoffman wrote three years after the incident : “They make it clear that the Cold War nuclear readiness system continues to operate, and how catastrophic its consequences could be, despite the fact that the feud between the great powers is already over.”   

The situation was discharged only when it became clear that the rocket had gone towards Spitsbergen (not far from which it fell into the ocean). The nuclear cases have been deactivated. Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (right).

Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (right). Igor Mikhalev / Sputnik

The incident with bringing Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces to combat readiness, soon became the property of the world community. When, four years later, the Norwegians were about to repeat their launch of Black Brant XII and reported this to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the US additionally warned all key Russian military departments about it through their channels. As a result, this time there were no unpleasant surprises. 

Source: rbth.com

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Underworld

Germany conducted exercises in case of nuclear war

Bundeswehr / Birthe Brechters

The Bundeswehr with partners in the North Atlantic Alliance ( NATO) trained in operations in a nuclear war.

The German army, together with Italian, Belgian and Dutch colleagues, conducted exercises in the event of a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons.

The location of the exercise “Steadfest Noon” was chosen airbase “Nörfenich”, where the tactical squadron of the Luftwaffe 31 “Boelcke” is located. Together with the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr, the air forces of other NATO countries, in particular, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, took part in the exercises.

According to a report by Bild, the exercise scenario involved training procedures for safely removing nuclear weapons from storage, delivering ammunition and installing them on aircraft. The training flights took place without nuclear weapons, and in parallel with the aviation exercises at the Büchel airbase, where the tactical squadron of the Luftwaffe 51 Immelman is located, the Resilient Guard air defense systems were trained to protect the airfield from air attacks.

The training sites for the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr were not chosen by chance, since the Nörfenich airbase is a reserve storage site for the B61, a hydrogen bomb that forms the basis of nuclear weapons of the US strategic nuclear forces. 

Some of this ammunition is stationed at NATO bases in Europe. The exact number of hydrogen bombs that are stored at European sites and which ones are not reported. In Europe, the B61 is carried by Panavia Tornado fighter-bombers (pictured) and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.

Recall that the B61 thermonuclear bomb is the main weapon of the US strategic nuclear forces, although it entered service in 1968. Since 2012, a new guided version of the B61-12 has been under development, which will replace all B61 and B83 bombs that have been in service since 1983. It can be used both on strategic bombers and tactical aircraft. About two billion dollars were spent on the development of the 12th modification of the aerial bomb.

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