Narrated as a podcast series rather than an audiobook, The Dark Web is a great primer on the shady corner of the internet, the Darknet.

Being a cybersecurity consultant, I was naturally drawn to this freebie from Audible. I was quite familiar with the workings of the Darknet, thanks largely to Nick Bilton’s brilliant American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road. Despite my familiarity on the subject, I really liked how The Dark Web provided a chronology of events that led to the proliferation of Darknet: from the US Navy’s development of Tor (the anonymous browser) in the mid-1990s to why it was made open-source in 2004, before the infamous Silk Road trial opened a can of worms and made the Darknet, Tor and Bitcoin public knowledge.

The series is both well-researched and well-narrated by Geoff White, a British investigative journalist, complemented nicely by some intriguing interviews, including that of Ross Ulbricht’s mother and other key individuals both associated and affected by the Darknet.

The chapter on ransomware was particularly unsettling as we are shown how incredibly easy it is to purchase a ransomware on the Darknet, completely free of cost(!) with the ransomware creator getting a cut each time someone pays the ransom. All you need to do is apparently select a name and a ransom amount for your ransomware. The more organized crime organizations in the Darknet even boast of 24/7 customer support to “help” the affected victims pay the ransom, and are increasingly resembling mature Silicon Valley startups.

While the series isn’t an exhaustive coverage of the Darknet, it’s a great starting point for anyone keen to understand how the dark web works. For people looking for further reading on the subject, I’d recommend Nick Bilton’s American Kingpin, an engrossing read on the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road.