With the massive amount of information seamlessly available on the internet, is it not surprising to know that it accounts for only four percent of the internet? The rest, 96 percent of the internet, consists of the Deep Web, out of which 48 percent is the Dark Web.
Despite being so ominous and a place for criminal activity all over the globe, let us take a closer look as to why it was created in the first place?
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What is the Dark Web?
The Dark Web, also referred to as darknet, is unexplored territory of the internet that cannot be accessed by using common browsers such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. In the underlying network of the darknet, everything is password protected and requires special browsers to gain access.
Unlike the surface web, information on the Dark Web is not governed by any rules and regulations. This raises a question, is the Dark Web illegal? Well, being home to a lot of criminal activities already makes it illegal!
Why was the Dark Web created?
Whenever talk about the Dark Web goes around, one of the most steaming questions is who created the Dark Web and why?
The premise of this story dates back to the 1990s when the US military began to look for a way to route secure, anonymous, and untraceable communication through a public network. Paul Syverson, David Goldschlag, and Michael Reed were the three mathematicians at the Naval Research Laboratory who began working on the concept of onion routing.
While the clandestine goal of the project was left unachieved, some of the researchers saw a massive value proposition in it and launched a nonprofit anonymity-focused browser. This is what later came to be known as the Onion Router. Their research soon developed into the Onion Router project, popularly known as Tor, in 1997.
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What secrets are hidden in the Dark Web?
Just like the ocean hides its deepest, darkest secrets underwater, similarly the internet hides its notorious secrets in the Dark Web. On an everyday basis, the Dark Web generates US$1,000.00 in transactions. From doing illegal activities to doing some of the most heinous tasks, people use the Dark Web for a host of activities.
Reading the above paragraph must have answered the question, is the Dark Web illegal? Yes, it is, and below are some of the most popular illegal activities on the Dark Web:
It is one of the significant illegal activities taking place on the Dark Web; selling crucial information of reputed organizations is common. Such breached information plays a huge role in disrupting an organization’s reputation. Organizations have to buy the breached data on the Dark Web to safeguard their reputation. In 2017, organizations paid up to US$140 for saving their records from volition and misuse.
Malicious software, such as malware, affects users on the Dark Web in the similar manner as it does on the rest of the internet. Malware, such as keyloggers, botnet malware, ransomware, and many others, acts as a big threat to data security. Further, the threat of online browsing amplifies if a malware enters the user’s endpoint device through the Dark Web.
Stolen credit and debit cards:
Just like drugs, the darknet offers a huge market for stolen debit and credit cards. As per the annual report by Gemini Advisory, a cybersecurity firm that tracks underground marketplaces and forums, details of 87 million stolen credit and debit cards on the Dark Web came from the US. One of the major advantages of using US credit cards is that no verification through mobile is done on the purchase, which easily allows cybercriminals to make purchases. In 2020, around 115 million debit and credit cards were stolen from the US.
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Stolen bank details:
Similarly, stolen bank details are also easily available on the darknet. Accounts having balances of roughly US$3,000 from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are hawked for $300, while bank login information for accounts belonging to the same banks with balances of up to US$15,000 is sold for between US$200 to US$1,000 on the Dark Web.
Apart from these activities, there are several other activities that take place on the Dark Web. Apparently trading or manufacturing illegal drugs, including illegally obtained prescription medicines, financial crimes, such as money laundering and counterfeiting, are some of the other most facilitated trades on the Dark Web.
Hitmen is one of the popular websites on the Dark Web. On this site, anyone can pay hitmen to kill a person or a group of people.
One of the other things that became the most in-demand thing on the darknet was the Silk Road. It was one of the highest selling drug markets on the Dark Web and was shut down in 2013. However, since then, many other players have taken up this market space.
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Dark Web vs Deep Web
The table mentioned below lists comprehensive differentiation between the Deep web and the Dark Web:
|Deep Web||Dark Web|
|It is used for legal affairs that require anonymity such as accessing government documents or scientific records.||It is a place for online criminal and terrorist activities.|
|Its contents are not indexed by regular search engines.||Its content is only available on personal encrypted networks or peer-to-peer configurations.|
|It needs authentication to login.||It is an overlay of networks that requires specific software, configurations, and authorization to access it.|
|It can be accessed through a valid username and password and via regular search engines.||It can only be accessed with specialized and specified software.|
|It can be accessed by using a VPN.||It can only be accessed by special browsers, such as Tor, and needs precautions to access the data.|
How to access the Dark Web?
Accessing the Tor browser and getting acquainted with the world of the darknet is not as difficult as you think. All it takes is downloading the Tor browser from Google Play and installing it on your PC.
Once you install the Tor browser on your device, it functions just as a regular browser. However, finding the material on the Dark Web is not as easy as it is on a regular browser such as Google Chrome. The Dark Web does not have an index or ranking system to help you find what you need. There are such things as Dark Web search engines. One Dark Web search engine called the Uncensored Hidden Wiki offers some guidance to content on the Dark Web, but it may include illegal websites.
How to access the Dark Web on mobile?
Just like the web browser, you can access Tor using mobile. Download the Tor browser from Google Play and install the app on your mobile phone.
On opening the app, hit connect and you will be connected to the browser in a minute or two. After connecting, click on “run the test.” To test whether the browser is working properly or not, just type “what is my ID” in the search bar and DuckDuckGo will disable the IP address. DuckDuckGo will also restrict analytics firms to spy over the web pages. You can tap one of the links to find out exactly where your data is coming from. One of the interesting catches of the Tor browser is that unless you have the exact name of the website and correct browser configuration, you will not be able to access anything on it. Tor’s search engine does not act like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of what the Dark Web is and how it can be accessed, you must be responsible enough to use it judiciously. Remember, being engulfed in the ugly secrets of the Dark Web is as dangerous as drowning in an ocean.
To explore more about this interesting world of dark web, reach out to our cybersecurity community!