Everything you wanted to know about the dark web but were too scared to ask
The dark web sounds foreboding. Why else would police in Brazil, Germany, and the United States need dark web eshops like the “Wall Street Market” (WSM), charging operators with a long grocery list of crimes ranging from stolen data, drugs, and malware ? These events do happen on the dark web, but they are just part of the story.
The internet is a huge and sometimes disorganized place, almost like a huge flea market or bazaar. With billions of sites and addresses, it’s amazing that we can search – and find – anything.
There are three basic levels within this complex thing we call the World Wide Web – open, deep, and dark. Each have their place – and their drawbacks.
The open or surface web is what you access daily through Bing or Google. Before you even turn on the device, search engines have crawled through the web, looking for information, evaluating the sources, and listing the options.
Just think of this as a general reading room in your local library. The books are there, they are precisely organized by theme and title, and you are free and able to look everywhere.
By accessing the normal Internet, your device is accessing the central servers which will then display the website. If you have questions you can go through the card file or talk to a librarian.
Browsers such as Google, Bing, GoDuckGo are acting as librarians, sorting and cataloging materials so they can be easily searched and also following your own moves with their trackers.
Most corporate and public sites work hard to ensure that web crawlers can find them easily. Knowing where the materials are – and who is searching for them – makes it possible for Google to sell advertisements – an amount that makes up well over 80 percent of the revenue. Still, this open and cataloged content is still estimated to make up only about 5% of the total internet.
The term “Deep Web” means anything nefarious, it simply refers to unindexed web databases and other content that search engines cannot crawl through and catalog – things like registration-required web forums or even your Gmail account. It includes information about the data brokers like LocalBlox may store in a public – but unlisted – Amazon server.
Deep sites include company intranets and governmental websites (i.e. the website of the European Union) where you can search for specific topics or forms. On such pages, you can use their own internal search function like a search engine like Bing or Yahoo or other external search engines. The deep web also includes most academic content handled directly by universities. Just think of this like searching for a library book using the facilities’ own index files – you may be able to search the library there. This deep web is estimated to make up about 95 percent of the entire web.
The dark web – despite the media attention – is a small part of the deep web that is only accessible through a special TOR network.
Tor stands for: The Onion Router “A reference to how it works; sending encrypted traffic via layers of relays around the globe as it hides the content, the sender, and their location. Not only is it more secure, it’s also more private as it effectively shuts out online trackers.
While it is not flawless in protecting user privacy, it works well enough to give users much more privacy wherever they go, access the content, and conceal their own identity. The multiple relays helps keep some distance and anonymity between the person visiting the website, the website itself, and any entity trying to eavesdrop on the communication between the two.
Tor is both a type of connection – with the extended relays – and a browser. There are other variants out there including I2P, GNU.net and Freenet.
Yes, there are a number of TOR-only sites for illicit drugs or materials. But, not really all of it.
There are also popular services offering their services here at facebookcorewwwi.onion and the German mail provider Mailbox.org is offering its services as well.
“With the open, deep, and dark web, there is a difference in who can track you”, points out Alexander Vukcevic, Head of the Avira Protection Labs.
“With a normally open web search, the search engine knows where you are, the number of your device, your IP address, and the theme of the search.
“On the deep web, you can assume that activities are monitored at the gateway.
“For the deep web, while some activities can be monitored, you can hide your personal data before entering.
Looking at the dark web can be irritation – visually and operationally. Before finding a treasure of odd substances or private information, you are likely to hit a number of dead ends. According to Internet Live Stats about 75% of these websites are inactive. Once you find them, these sites are a bit rough, like the 1990s chic. Unlike the open or surface web, these sites are really worried about being found by a web crawler. While there are Google-like equivalents trying to categorize the dark web, their results are spotty. Part of this is the incentive.
For most of us, the short answer is that there’s no reason to: unless you’re really paranoid about your privacy or you’re doing something that really needs anonymity, such as reporting on repressive regimes or crime syndicates or trying to bypass state censorship. , there is no real reason to venture onto the Dark Web at all – not least because it slows down your browsing.
Think of it as the dodgy bit of town where sensible people don’t go after dark.
If that ‘s just made you more interested, the key to the Dark Web is Tor. You can download it from Torproject.org.
Tor stands for Thin Onion Routing, and in 2013 UK MP Julian Smith described it as “the black Internet where child pornography, drug trafficking and arms trading take place”.
He’s not wrong: Tor is where the now-defunct Silk Road drugs market could be found, it’s where the Black Market Reloaded traded drugs and weapons, and it’s where the US National Security Agency says “very naughty people” hang out. It’s not the only network on the Dark Web – for example, you may have heard of the Freenet anti-censorship network – but it’s by far the most popular.
It doesn’t that Tor is evil; It’s just that the same tools that protect political dissidents are pretty good at protecting criminals too. That was not intentional. It does that by bouncing users ‘and sites’ traffic through multiple relays to disguise their location.
That ‘s a very good question, and for many people the answer is Reddit. Subreddits such as DarkNetMarketsNoobs exist to guide newcomers around the Dark Web, while on the open web certain Wikis are kind of Yahoo! for destinations on the Tor network – albeit a Yahoo!
You ‘ll see that the sites have the .onion extension: that means you need a Tor browser open to them.
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