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Look on the bright (light) side

At a recent workshop held at Pittville Pump Rooms in Cheltenham, I was listening to experts on cyber, the dark web and all things security related. It got me thinking about the media landscape and how we all make judgements and have preconceptions about things that, in reality, we don’t really understand.

Without even a basic understanding of how the dark web works and what can be done with it, it’s easy to give in and accept the image of the dark web regularly portrayed by the media.

But like many others, I didn’t really know that much about it other than what the news highlights; it’s full of hackers, cyber criminals, terrorists, drug dealers, arms traders and even hit men. And, to be clear, each and every one of those categories are present, and really quite easy to access, on the dark web.

But there is a plus side.

In today’s hyper-connected world, we often take for granted the open manner in which we receive our news. On the radio, the television, laptops and on our phones – we are used to getting the latest breaking news as it happens. But there are millions – even billions – of people in the world who don’t have that luxury. They live in countries that have severe restrictions on media freedom and can only access communications channels that are heavily vetted and controlled by government authorities.

In our world, we expect to hear about events and atrocities happening around the world, but we rarely think about how that news is delivered to us. The truth is that most of our news from these areas comes via channels on the dark web, because the mainstream channels are monitored and intercepted. In countries such as China, North Korea and other communist states, the only way to communicate openly outside of the country is by logging on to the dark web and telling the story to us directly.

The other surprise for me related to the origins of the dark web; not some nefarious band of cyber criminals looking for ways of communicating and attacking businesses and individuals, but from the US Navy. It was developed as a means of communicating between mission-deployed units securely, with encryption and speed, while minimising the opportunities for outside parties to intercept information.

So the dark web, while home to some truly terrible individuals and materials, is also the very conduit through which some of the worst human rights violations and atrocities come to our attention.

As a communications professional, I was interested to have my preconceptions challenged in this way and to realise that there is in fact a light side to the dark. Everything has a balance, and while we must fight the dark, we should also recognise the positive of the light.

The news media is always quick to highlight the dangers, and rightly so, as we need to be aware of the risks in order to protect ourselves as best we can. But we must also be aware of those individuals and groups that rely on those same channels to get their messages, their stories and their challenges to our attention.

So while the dark web is used by individuals we’d rather didn’t exist, we have to recognise its importance to the world in protecting those who are otherwise without a voice and unable to share their hardships.

I think we’d all rather be aware of what’s happening in the world and know how to protect ourselves from the dark side than not know what’s happening and wait for the nefarious users of the dark web to find other ways to get to us.

Openness of communications is key to our way of life and our businesses success. It’s so important to make sure your voice is heard and be grateful that you can do so without having to rely on dark channels.

At Kava, we operate on the light side and really value the art of communication.  We’re adept at getting your message out there and in front of your audience, so get in touch today to find out how we can help tell your story.