Today in this post, we are going to discuss about ‘Dark Web – The Dark Side of Internet’. The Dark Web is a decentralized network of Internet sites that routs all their communications across multiple servers and encrypts them at every step, trying to keep users as anonymous as possible. The Dark Web refers to encrypted online content that is not used in our daily lives by conventional search engines. It is also called the Dark Net.
As we all know that the WEB is divided into Three Layers:
- Surface Web: It is the top layer of web and includes such kind of information that is easily accessible by a normal internet user through any kind of browser or search engine. This is where we all spend most of our time and it is the safest layer among the other three layers. It covers only 5 % of the World Wide Web.
- Deep Web: This web level is not fully accessible through standard search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. The content of the deep web is hidden behind HTTP forms. Most estimates put the deep web in the 90 percent range of the entire internet.
- Dark Web: Through the dark web, private computer networks can communicate and conduct business anonymously without divulging identifying information, such as a user’s location. It is a small part of deep web. It contains about 5% of the total internet.
The dark web is a hidden set of internet sites and only accessible by a specialized web browser. It is used to keep Internet activity anonymous and private, which can be helpful in both legal and illegal applications. While some internet users use it to avoid government censorship, it is also known to be used for highly illegal activities.
History of The Dark Web
In the late 1990s, two U.S. Defense Department research institutes sought to build an anonymous and encrypted network that could protect sensitive communications from U.S. spies. They wanted to build such kind of secret network which would be encrypted and would not be known or accessible to a normal internet user.
The concept of an anonymous online communication network, which is the core idea of dark web, expanded with the creation of the ARPANET in 1960s. ARPANET, also known as Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, was an experimental computer network created in the 1960’s that was the forerunner of the internet and later on, the dark web.
The dark web or dark net was officially launched 20 years ago, on 20 March, 2000 with the release of ‘Freenet’. It is a P2P (Peer to Peer) and decentralized network, design to make it less vulnerable to attack and snooping by authorities and states.
In the conversation about the history of the dark web, one word comes again and again that is TOR browser. It is a personal internet browsing network and is now the backbone for accessing the Dark Web. On 20 September 2002, the TOR (The Onion Router) browser was finally released to the world. The whole Internet system changed with the release of the TOR browser. It creates such an environment where normal internet users browse anything freely and anonymously. Now a normal internet user can easily access the dark web through the TOR browser.
Is It Illegal To Access The Dark Web?
The answer is No. It is not illegal to access the dark web. In fact, some uses are perfectly legal and support the “Dark Web” standard. Here an internet user gets some benefits from its use: User anonymity, virtually untraceable services and sites. However, most of the sites on the Dark Web are involved in illegal activities. Here we are going to discuss that should we access the dark web or not.
Accessing and browsing the dark web is totally legal but in reality the Dark Web is heavily associated with illegal activity. A 2019 study, Into the Web of Profit, conducted by Dr. Michael McGuires at the University of Surrey, shows that things have become worse. The number of dark web lists that could harm an enterprise has increased by 20% since 2016.
A December 2014 study by Gareth Owen from the University of Portsmouth found that the most commonly hosted type of content on Tor was Child Pornography, followed by black markets. Dark web is mostly used for selling illegal goods such as drugs, personal data, weapons, financial and fraud related information and products.
The Dark Web is becoming the backbone of illegal activities day by day. It has become a forum for terrorist propaganda, guiding information, and most importantly financing. Here one can buy drugs, guns, credit card numbers, stolen personal information, crack software, human organs and also can easily hire hackers or professional killers for some illegal activities.
With the advantage of low-cost internet in a few countries, social media and the Dark Web are being used illegally to trade human organs. However, according to World Health Organization (WHO) one of the most prominent organs traded illegally is the kidney. The report says that 10,000 kidneys are traded on the black market worldwide annually, or more than one every hour.
Here the dealer deals with Crypto Currency. It is popular on the Dark Web because it provides a convenient way to detect and destroy transaction details and the Bitcoin is one of the major crypto-currencies used in the Dark Web Marketplace due to its flexibility.
How To Access The Dark Web
The core principle of Tor, Onion routing, was developed in the mid-1990s by United States Naval Research Laboratory employees, computer scientists Michael G. Reed, mathematician Paul Syverson and David Goldschlag to protect U.S. intelligence communications online. As of December 2020, the number of active Tor sites in .onion was estimated at 76,300 and Only 18,000 sites have the original contents.
Accessing the Dark Web is actually much easier than you might think. All you have to do is download a dark web browser, like the Tor browser. The Tor (The Onion Router) network browser allows the users to access the dark web and visit the websites with the ‘.onion’ registry operator.
Today, it is one of the easiest ways to access .onion websites located on the Dark Web. It is a privacy-enhancing web browser based on Firefox, with more than a million users. It allows users to browse the web anonymously and makes IP address unidentifiable and untraceable as it routes your web page requests through a series of proxy servers operated by thousands of volunteers around the globe.
When you are going to download the TOR browser, at first you should cover your webcam lens because you are about to enter the dark world and you never know what might happen.
You can download the TOR browser for Windows OS, MacOS, Linux OS and also for Android Operating Systems.
Advantages of Dark Web
Here we will discuss some of the advantages of the Dark Web.
- The dark web helps people to maintain their privacy and express their opinions without any hesitation.
- Ability to take illegal actions for both users and providers.
- The government will never be able to completely ban the Dark Web.
- One of the biggest advantages of the dark web is the difficulty of blocking it.
Disadvantages of Dark Web
Here we will discuss some of the disadvantages of the Dark Web.
- The Dark Web can be used to violate the privacy of others.
- It empowers ordinary people, but some people will inevitably abuse that power.
- Dark web is mostly used for selling illegal goods such as drugs, stolen personal data etc.
- It makes easier to hire some hackers or professional killers for illegal activities.
- It’s a hotbed for criminal activity.
First of all, I (the author) want to say that this article is for educational and informative purposes only. Yes, you read it right that browsing the dark web is not illegal but most of the sites on the Dark Web are involved in illegal activities. That’s why I do not advise you to visit the web. So, stay away from this, enjoy this article and be careful.
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Dark Web activity has increased by 300% in the last 3 years and over 30% of North Americans access the dark web regularly.
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