“What do you mean “Should we worry about cyber adversaries getting into state voter registration databases?” They’re already in and selling exfiltrated voter registration data on the dark web! Next election cycle black hats will be selling ‘access as service’.”
― James Scott, Senior Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology
Internet is the most revolutionary thing that mankind has invented. The Internet has created such an impact on us that we can’t live without the internet. Talking about the internet, everyone knows about it like how to use it? How does it work? etc. But are you sure that you know everything about the internet? The internet we are aware of is only 4%. But what about 96% of the internet. To answer this question let’s discuss the rest of the part, lets discuss the dark web.
Division of World Wide Web
Firstly, We have to understand the partition of the internet. Internet is divided into two parts Surface Web and the Dark Web.
1- Surface Web
It constitutes 4% of the Worldwide Web. The contents of websites on the surface web are indexed by the search engines. In easy words, the surface web contains all the websites we can surf using any browser and is visible to every search engine. For example,- wissurge.com is on the surface web. You can search it on any search engine and accesible from any browser.
2- Deep Web
The deep web, invisible web, or hidden web are parts of the World Wide Web whose contents are not indexed by standard web search engines. The data Deep Web contains are banking portals, restricted social media pages, criminal records, organizations’ private data, etc. People can access the Deep Web through the URL or IP address but it will require passwords or he/she has to go through some security checkups. For example, your email id is on the deep web because it is not indexed by google and not anyone can access it.
What Is Dark Web?
Going more into the deep web. There is a subset of the Deep Web that is the dark web. You can’t even access these links using the direct URL. Dark Web is the part of the worldwide web that can be accessed through the darknet only. This means to access the dark web, an individual should have required specific software, configurations, or authorization. Websites on the dark web can be accessed through the TOR browser. And the website URL is suffixed by the .onion.
Army officials, hackers, or those people use the dark web to communicate through the network anonymously. Most of this web consists of illegal activities such as drug smuggling, hiring of hitmen, etc. You might be thinking I’m talking about the movie stuff. But this is real, and therefore I never recommend you to surf this web.
Content On Dark Web
A December 2014 study by Gareth Owen from the University of Portsmouth found that the most content on the Dark web was child pornography, followed by black markets. Other than this, there are many whistleblowing sites and some political discussion forums as well.
Dark Web is not only for illegal activities, but it also has a large content of research papers that you can not find on the surface web. The US army also communicates via this web as it let you surf anonymously without trackers.
In the Dark web, there is also a hidden Wikipedia that allows you to read the uncensored pages of Wikipedia. You will find anything from a Pistol to Rocket Launcher if you want to find out. You might have read news about the data breach and selling of data on the dark web, fake passports, fake ids, data of any individual just for few dollars. These are the kinds of work that usually happen on the web. Taking a bit more, there is a website which rents hacker, just for $700, you can ruin anyone’s life. The hacker will download child pornography on the target’s PC and then call the FBI and you know how much the target will suffer after that.
There are many rumors and stories available on the web but there is not certain credibility of those. There is an urban legend of the ‘Red Room’, that exists on the dark web, this website live streams the torturing of animals, humans on the instructions of the viewer.
If you ever want to buy human organs you can check out on the web and there are separate market places for the buying and selling of the dark web. There are millions of people who go missing every year and there are several rumors that all these people end up on the dark web.
You might be thinking, how do transactions take place on the dark web? It is a stupid decision to use a credit card, etc. on the web because anyone can track you there. So, all the transactions that take place on this web are through cryptocurrency such as bitcoins, etc.
Many questions have bombarded your mind such as who invented the dark web, or why is the government not banning it? So, Let’s take a deep look at all these questions. And let’s take a look at the history of the dark web.
What Started The Dark Web?
It all started in the 1960s. When ARPANET was formed. It was a network of computers that are connected together to communicate without any phone connections. Using the ARPANET, the world’s first illegal online transaction has happened. It is the commercial transaction of marijuana between the students of Stanford and MIT.
This starts the idea of surfing the internet without restrictions. And the US government has already projected the need for anonymous internet surfing. In 1990, a group of mathematicians and scientists develop the technology of onion routing. The onion routing allows bilateral communication where the source and the target can’t be determined by any midpoint. Only the US federal government use the Onion routing system for 12 years. But in 2002, the TOR(The Onion Routing ) system is made publicly available. Can you guess, why? It is because the more people use TOR the more anonymous they can surf. It is because no one can guess the user is either a US high official or a normal user. So, they make TOR open-source system.
With the release of private browsing networks like TOR, collections of dark websites, and a subsequent community of followers began to emerge in full force. Here we see the rise of the dark web.
Why Does Dark Web Exist?
The overall image you picture of the dark web is the dark side of the internet and a place for criminals because of being anonymous while surfing.
But this is not true. Most of the TOR users use it to remain anonymous and use it as a tool to protect their privacy. There is a need for anonymous browsing. We don’t know who is tracking our activities on the internet. Tech giants like Google, Facebook invading our privacy on daily basis. These tech companies are collecting our data with and without our consent.
Now, think of the world, if the government starts to censor the internet and starts to track you on daily basis. That’s where the idea of TOR comes under necessity. It is necessary to have technology like TOR to remain anonymous and enjoy our freedom to express views. There is a necessity for anonymous communities where we can share our views, thoughts, etc without the fear of being tracked. And this is the main idea behind the TOR.
Many governments around the world know the importance of TOR. That’s why the US federal government is funding The TOR Project,90% of the funding for The TOR Project comes from the US government. It is the tool that is helping them to stay anonymous. That’s why they can’t ban the TOR.
Words Of Warning
Firstly, You should know it is not illegal to use the dark web to some extent. If you’re using the dark web for educational purposes, criticizing, etc. It is all legal. But If you ever want to use the dark web for illegal kinds of stuff or just for fun by surfing illegal websites. The first advice is never to do this, accessing the dark web is not easy. But if you enter the darknet, you can’t even think of the possibilities that you can encounter like
most of the websites on the dark web are scamming or phishing websites and there are a lot of chances of your computer getting ransomware attacks. There are several stories of people who have tried to access the dark web and end up complaining about the webcam being hacked, being followed by another person, etc. It is not easy to remain anonymous using the TOR browser as well. A small mistake will expose your identity to the dark web.
The dark web is not that bad we think of. It is true that the dark web is full of criminals and scammers but on the other side, It gives you the freedom to express your views. It protects you from being tracked. But always remember, Don’t try to access the dark web. You can use the TOR browser for anonymous surfing but surfing the dark web without any proper knowledge can lead to big problems.
Now, here is a question for you. Do you think browsing networks like TOR is a necessity or, is it a tool for criminals? Data privacy is important or not? Do comment your views.