The dark side of life

sea of websHave you heard about the ‘Deep Web” or “Dark Web”?

You have, but wondered what it meant or what it was about, perhaps with some loose idea that it was something best left alone, unless you wanted to buy drugs or other illegal commodities.

Time to get to know a bit more to ensure you stay legal in case you come across a request to buy something not readily available.

First off, the two web names above are not the same, the Deep Web encompasses

those sites that are not crawled by ordinary search engines like Google or Bing, as well as the secret web servers and online banking sites and private cloud storage and commercial intranets [a private network accessible only to an organization’s staff].

That makes the deep web absolutely huge, estimates available for the number of resources in the deep web detected around 300,000 deep web sites in the entire web in 2004, and, according to Shestakov, around 14,000 deep web sites existed in the Russian part of the Web in 2006.

iceberg webWhen you compare the ‘surface web’ and the ‘deep web’ it looks like the deep web wins with 7500 terabytes of information against the surface web, where we normally operate, of 19 terabytes. Don’t think that all that deep web information is illegal, far from it, in fact most of it is perfectly legal.

Now the ‘Dark Web‘ is actually a subsection of the deep web. The ‘dark web’ refers to the websites that deliberately hide their IP addresses [the Internet Protocol address of their servers] usually by using encryption tools like ‘Tor’ [anonymity network] or similar services  e.g. Invisible Internet Project [‘I2P’, that allows software to send messages to each other pseudonymously and securely]. It is a deliberately hidden section of the internet and as such it is used for both good and evil. We hear of such communications being used among terrorists and by crime syndicates for weapons exchange, and for other unspeakable things like child pornography.

‘Tor’ is known also as the Onion Router, the portal to the Dark Web, as is ‘I2P’ and ‘Freenet’, but with Tor being the most widely used; so if you happen to see the ‘.onion’ extension on a dark web link you’ll need Tor to open it. Go to the Tor website where you’ll find everything you need to get started plus a download of the browser. [No, I am not enticing you to doing anything illegal, that will depend on how you choose to use the ability it affords you to remain anonymous].

Onion routing was originally developed by the US Navy to protect US intelligence online and because the routing of traffic goes through thousands of relays like layers of an onion it affords a high degree of anonymity.

When using Tor you’ll need to know where you wish to go because the sites are not found via Google etc, so you’ll need a direct link to a website, and whilst some are listed on e.g. DarknetMarketsNoobs, others must be found elsewhere. Remember that many are highly illegal, subversive or not to mention immoral, so best to tread careful and not recommended by Kapiti SeniorNet.

This post is meant as a guide to the basic understanding of what the Dark Web is, not an endorsement of it. Before your curiousity makes you wish to dip your toe into the murky waters there is an askReddit page listing a number of stories, but beware language use can be pretty awful, and whilst some are humourous others make you despair for humanity.

Sometimes we need to know at least a little about how the other half lives to be better equipped to deal with the results of their way of life rather than being blind to it, it is all part of the technological age we inhabit.

Take care, enjoy the sunny side, happy computing.