Have you ever wondered that your typical search engines like Google and Yahoo deliberately hide information from you? Has it ever occurred to you that there might be another world beyond the world of the internet we know so well? Well, such a world does, in fact, exist. This is what we call the “dark web”.

To understand what the dark web actually is, have a look at the infographic. It has three parts: the surface, deep, and dark web. The surface web is what our typical search engines like Google or Yahoo show us in response to our search queries.  It includes the search results of queries related to education institutions, purchasable products, and whatnot. Surface Web shows us the web pages which may include things of our interest.

Representation of different sections of the Internet

The deep web is where the logins, credit card information, and other database records go. A major portion of the deep web content is password-protected that can be accessed after users provide their login information. According to some general information, more than 90% of the total internet content is categorized into the deep web database. So, access to deep web data is encrypted and password secured. It needs login credentials to see the specific data present in the deep web.

The dark web is the deepest corner of the deep web. It generally contains information and activities which cannot be shown publicly. This includes secure and encrypted communication, even including the exchange of sensitive intelligence information. Due to the anonymous nature of connection and secure privacy protocols, activities on the dark web cannot be traced back to users. This is why a major part of the dark web platform is used for illegal activities like drug trafficking, illegal trade of weapons, assassins for hire tec. In short, the dark web is where illegal activities take place online. 

The dark web was initially designed for anonymous communication which could not be intercepted by usual means. The Darknet communication protocol was established by the US Department of Defense for secure and private communication to exchange sensitive information that could not be tracked or intercepted by usual means. Though it had noble beginnings, the dark web is now used for illegal activities and exchange of censored information.

For the major part, the dark web is used for political protests and political and religious discussions in regions where freedom of opinion is limited. Now for the seemingly scary title I’ve given to this article, I call the dark web the “Internet’s Underworld”, because of a convoluted mesh of illegal activities conducted there. This underworld is home to drug traffickers, assassins and hackers for hire, imposters and passport forgers. 

Data statistics on the dark web

Drug trafficking, illegal weapons trading, and electronic equipment trading are the most popular uses of the dark web. The very first dark web marketplace was Silk Road, launched in February 2011. It was mainly a drug-selling site but later started providing other services like fake passports, stolen credit cards, assassins for hire and child pornography. Due to the violation of cyber regulations, it was shut down in October 2013 by the FBI and its owner arrested. This is just one example of websites offering illegal products and services.

Another popular use of the dark web platform is the disclosure of confidential documents. A very popular example of this is Wikileaks, a platform that discloses confidential documents related to politics and international relations policies. The most famous leaks from this controversial website were prominent documents on the Afghan war and corruption reports in Kenya. While Wikileaks is ‘.org’ domain site, so it does not fit into the category of the dark web as far as domains are concerned. However, there is a dark website link of Wikileaks with domain ‘.onion’, which is where most of the confidential information is present.

Whistleblowing is a very famous use of the dark web. A company’s scorned employees could tarnish its reputation simply by disclosing sensitive information on the dark web. This information could involve corruption scandals inside the company’s management or the questionable actions taken by the company to maximize its profits.    

A few free browsers are available if you wish to access the dark web, Tor and i2p being the most famous ones. To access dark web content, a good VPN service should be used along with the dark-web-supported browsers. Surfing dark web is not a problem as long as you know what you are doing and you are not doing any illegal activity on the dark web. 

The dark web is, to summarize, a part of the Internet that provides us as much information as the surface web, or maybe even more. Since the internet is for all, surfing the dark web is not restricted by any law. But it can be extremely dangerous if one does not know their way through it. The dark web in itself is neither good nor bad, it is its use that defines it.

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