Behind the curtain of the dark web: uncovering the internet's best-kept secrets
Delve into the world of the dark web, a hidden realm of the internet known for its illicit activities and anonymous communication.
If you have ever heard about the dark web, you may have preconceived notions about what it is and what goes on there. In reality, the dark web is a complex and often misunderstood part of the internet with many legitimate use cases.
This post will explore the dark web, how it differs from the surface and deep web, and why it has such a notorious reputation.
What is the dark web?
The dark web is similar to the surface web. The only difference is that it is a part of the internet that is inaccessible to the (non-techy) general public. Search engines do not index it; it is only accessible using specialized software or configurations. Sometimes, it is also referred to as the darknet or darknet markets.
The dark web consists of websites, forums, and marketplaces that are intentionally hidden from the public and require users to use anonymizing tools such as Tor or I2P to access them.
Who created the dark web?
In the late 90s, Uncle Sam was busy cooking up something hush-hush. They wanted to build a network to safeguard sensitive chatter among the US intelligence personnel. They wanted it to be super-secret and hidden from regular internet users.
To accomplish this covert mission, two research organizations under the US Department of Defense banded together to create an encrypted network to keep their spies' conversations secret.
They built what we now know as Tor, the Onion Router. Initially designed for military and government use, this network has since become available to anyone who wants to surf the web anonymously.
You might be thinking, "What's with the name?" Tor is called the Onion Router because it encrypts information in layers, like an onion. Each layer adds another level of encryption, making it harder for anyone to trace back your online activities.
How does the dark web differ from the surface and deep web?
Most of us use the surface web on a daily basis. In fact, you're reading this blog post hosted on the surface web. It is the part of the internet that is accessible by search engines such as Google and Bing. This includes websites that are open to the public and indexed by search engines.
In contrast, the deep web is part of the unindexed internet inaccessible to search engines and not readily accessible to the public. This includes private databases, academic resources, and other password-protected content.
The dark web makes up a fraction of the deep web. It is hidden intentionally and is only accessible using specialized tools. Surprisingly, the deep web is estimated to be much larger, maybe hundreds of times larger than the surface web.
Why does the Dark Web have a notorious reputation?
The anonymity and secrecy of the dark web make it highly attractive to criminals. The emergence of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin made it easier for criminals to operate anonymously on the dark web.
This led to an explosion of illicit dark web marketplaces like InTheBox, Genesis Market, OMG!OMG!. 2Easy, and the infamous Silk Road. Although the dark web has become synonymous with activities such as the sale of passwords, stolen identities, data (from data breaches), and drug trafficking, not all activity in the internet's underbelly is illegal.
Activists and journalists are also known to use the dark web to communicate anonymously and access censored information. The dark web is also home to forums and marketplaces dedicated to privacy and security. Users can discuss topics such as encryption and online privacy without fear of censorship or surveillance.
In conclusion, the dark web is a complex and often misunderstood part of the internet. While it does have a notorious reputation due to its association with criminal activities, it is also used by journalists, activists, and others who need to communicate anonymously or access censored information.