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Good Question: What is the dark web?

Good Question: What is the dark web?
Good Question: What is the dark web? 02:47

MINNEAPOLIS -- Computer hackers accessed the Minneapolis Public School System, stealing private data in a cyberattack that the district called an "encryption event." 

The hacker group then posted some of that information on the dark web.

So, what is the dark web? Good Question.

"The dark web is part of the Internet that's not accessible by regular search engines," said Ty Hollins, Chief Information Security Officer for ProCircular, a cybersecurity firm. "You need a special browser in order to access the information on the dark web."

Sometimes called the "Internet's Evil Twin," the dark web is a place where illicit activity is common. It's a place where people are able to buy stolen credit card information, illegal drugs, human organs, endangered animals, advice on hacking and much more.

"It's legal. Anyone could download the browser that's required to go on the dark web," said Hollins. "However, the material that you're purchasing isn't legal."

People access the dark web through a browser that allows them to remain anonymous. People generally use cryptocurrency to buy illegal goods.

"The technology behind the dark web was created by the U.S. Navy in an effort to anonymize the government activity and usage of the internet," said Mark Lanterman, Chief Technology Officer at Computer Forensic Services

Experts don't know exactly how large the dark web is, but agree it's big – or bigger than the surface web that people use everyday to find searchable websites. The anonymity of it makes the dark web difficult to police.

That's why cybersecurity experts like Hollins recommend people change their passwords and use multi-factor authentication.

"When your information goes on the dark web it's difficult to take it down," said Hollins. "If you go to that site and say take my information down or law enforcement says take my information down, that information is already up, so they can take that same information, build another site and put that back up."

While there are some legitimate uses to the dark web, including people sharing information in countries that censor or restrict it, Hollins said he recommends against people even searching the dark web.

"The dark web, in my view, is primarily for illicit material, if you want to do bad things," he said.

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