The Dark Web
The Dark Web, often called the secret internet for drug dealers, assassins, and pedophiles became a household name with the Silk Road demise back in 2013.
In a joint study conducted by the University of Montreal and University of Manchester, it has been found that the sale of drugs has tripled since the closure of the online drug marketplace Silk Road.
But what actually is the Dark Web?
The average person is only aware of a fraction of the Internet, called the surface web. The surface web is that portion of the World Wide Web that is readily available to the general public and searchable with standard web search engines. It’s the common Internet everyone uses to read news, visit Facebook, and shop. Just consider this the “regular” Internet. It is the opposite of the deep web.
The deep web are parts of the World Wide Web whose contents are not indexed by standard search engines for any reason. The deep web includes many very common uses such as web mail, online banking or your company’s Intranet, but also paid for services with a paywall such as video on demand, and many more.
The dark web, on the other side, is a subset of the deep web that is not only not indexed, but that also requires special tools to be able to access it. Dark web websites are accessible through the Tor (“The Onion Router”) browser and can be identified by the domain “.onion”.
Where conventional web browsers like Safari, Chrome and Firefox make no effort to conceal your location or identity, Tor is built upon the idea of preserving anonymity as aggressively as possible.
What is Tor?
Tor is an anonymity network designed to keep your identity and location completely secure as you browse the web. When you use the Tor browser, volunteer servers around the world route your internet traffic from server to server before finally delivering you your content. On top of this evasive routing, data is encrypted a number of times as it travels to you.
Using the Tor browser unlocks the door to a whole weird and wild world you never would have guessed existed online. Where Google helps you find the needle, Tor lets you “explore the haystack.”
However, not all dark web resources are illicit, immoral, or illegal. There are some communities that are simply anti-establishment or pro-privacy to a degree that they believe they should be able to function without oversight or judgement by anyone.
Tor is an example of a project that can be, and is, used for both good and bad. It’s used to anonymize whistleblowers, but also to conceal criminal activity. Like encryption and even weapons, powerful tools often have dual purposes in this way, and are not intrinsically good or bad themselves.