The disturbing world of the Dark Web means people can commit crimes from the comfort of their homes with a click of a button.
Dr Tim Owen, director of the University of Central Lancashire’s Cybercrime Research Unit, says: “The Dark Web is closer to the surface than people realise.
“It is assumed by many people there is a separate Internet called the Dark Net but it is actually only a few clicks away.
“The internet is a very exciting thing for many but it is also a very dangerous thing if you don’t know what you are doing.
“There are so many pitfalls for the unknowing surfer.
“People sometimes think that crime on the internet is secondary to crime in the real world.
“But it is all in the real world.
“However, because it is possible to be anonymous on the internet, people are more likely to behave in a disinhibited way.
“The virtual world is blurring with the real world and people need to be clear that whatever they do on the Internet, the same rules apply.”
Zain Javed, chief technology officer at cyber security firm Xyone, based at Lancaster University, says: “The Dark Web consists of websites that usual people can’t see. You need specialist software to be able to access them.
“With the Dark Web, people have the freedom to be completely anonymous and do what they want.
“Anything illegal can be found on the Dark Web from hiring a hitman to drug dealing and buying firearms and weapons.”
Detective Constable Mark Aldridge, fraud evaluation and liaison officer who works in the economic crime unit at Lancashire Police, says: “It is called the ‘Dark Web’ for a reason. It was set up purely to facilitate crime.
“If people feel they have to hide this stuff, then there is something inherently wrong with it in the first place.”