What is Dark Web?
The dark web is the World Wide Web content that exists on darkness, overlay networks which use the public Internet but require specific software, configurations or authorization to access. The dark web forms a small part of the deep web, the part of the Web not indexed by search engines, although sometimes the term “deep web” is mistakenly used to refer specifically to the dark web.
Darknet websites are accessible only through networks such as Tor (“The Onion Router”) and I2P (“Invisible Internet Project”). Tor browser and Tor-accessible sites are widely used among the darknet users and can be identified by the domain “.onion”. While Tor focuses on providing anonymous access to the Internet, I2P specializes in allowing anonymous hosting of websites. Identities and locations of darknet users stay anonymous and cannot be tracked due to the layered encryption system. The darknet encryption technology routes users’ data through a large number of intermediate servers, which protects the users’ identity and guarantees anonymity. The transmitted information can be decrypted only by a subsequent node in the scheme, which leads to the exit node. The complicated system makes it almost impossible to reproduce the node path and decrypt the information layer by layer. Due to the high level of encryption, websites are not able to track geolocation and IP of their users as well as, the users are not able to get this information about the host. Thus, communication between darknet users is highly encrypted allowing users to talk, blog, and share files confidentially.
The darknet is also used for illegal activity such as illegal trade, forums, and media exchange for pedophiles and dangerous people. At the same, time traditional websites have created alternative accessibility for the Tor browser in efforts to connect with their users. ProPublica, for example, launched a new version of its website available exclusively to Tor users.
What is Deep Web?
The deep web, invisible web, or hidden web are parts of the World Wide Web whose contents are not indexed by standard search engines for any reason. The opposite term to the deep web is the surface web. The deep web includes many very common uses such as webmail and online banking but also paid for services with a paywall such as a video on demand, and much more. Computer scientist Michael K. Bergman is credited with coining the term deep web in 2001 as a search indexing term.
The first conflation of the terms “deep web” and “dark web” came about in 2009 when the deep web search terminology was discussed alongside illegal activities taking place on the Freenet darknet.
Since then, the use in the Silk Road’s media reporting, many, people and media outlets, have taken to using Deep Web synonymously with the dark web or darknet, a comparison many reject as inaccurate and consequently is an ongoing source of confusion. Wired reporters Kim Zetter and Andy Greenberg recommend the terms be used in distinct fashions. While the deep web is the reference to any site that cannot be accessed through a traditional search engine, the dark web is a small portion of the deep web that has been intentionally hidden and is inaccessible through standard browsers and methods.
What is the Dark Internet?
Confusingly, ‘Dark Internet’ is also a term sometimes used to describe further examples of networks, databases or even websites that cannot be reached over the internet. In this case either for technical reasons, or because the properties contain niche information that few people will want, or in some cases because the data is private.
A basic rule of thumb is that the phrases ‘Dark Web’ or ‘Deep Web’ are typically used by tabloid newspapers to refer to dangerous secret online worlds, the ‘Dark Internet’ is a boring place where scientists store raw data for research. The Deep Web is a catch-all term for all web pages that are not indexed for search, the others refer to specific things. (See also: Take precautions when using public Wi-Fi networks.
How to access the Dark Web?
Technically, this is not a difficult process. You simply need to install and use Tor. Go to www.torproject.org and download the Tor Browser Bundle, which contains all the required tools. Run the downloaded file, choose an extraction location, then open the folder and click Start Tor Browser. That’s it. The Vidalia Control Panel will automatically handle the randomized network setup and, when Tor is ready, the browser will open; just close it again to disconnect from the network.
Depending on what you intend to do on the Dark Web, some users recommend placing tape over your laptop’s webcam to prevent prying eyes watching you. A tinfoil hat is also an option.
The difficult thing is knowing where to look. There, reader, we leave you to your own devices
and wish you good luck and safe surfing. And a warning before you goes any further. Once you get into the Dark Web, you *will* be able to access those sites to which the tabloids refer. This means that you could be a click away from sites selling drugs and guns, and – frankly – even worse things.
Aggregation sites such as Reddit offer lists of links, as do several Wikis, including http://thehiddenwiki.org/ – a list that offers access to some very bad places. Have a quick look by all means, but please don’t take our linking to it as an endorsement.
Also, Dark Web sites do go down from time to time, due to their dark nature. But if you want good customer service, stay out of the dark!
And do heed our warning: this article is intended as a guide to what is the Dark Web – not an endorsement or encouragement for you to start behaving in illegal or immoral behavior.
You can find an in-depth guide to using Tor here.