What Is The Dark Web And How “Dark” Is It?

Be it in movies or while narrating “scary” stories with your friends at 3 am, everyone has heard of the term “dark web.” The scary, inaccessible part of the internet that hosts illegal websites and criminals.

How many of us really know what the dark web is? Why it’s considered inaccessible? And is it really as “dark” as people make it out to be?

Let’s find out.

WHAT REALLY IS THE DARK WEB?

To understand what the dark web is and how it functions, you first need to understand the 3 parts of the internet.

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The internet can be divided into 3 parts – the clear web, the deep web, and the dark web.

The clear web is that part of the internet that you can access from your web browser using sites like Google. Even though it seems endless, the clear web only occupies a tiny portion of the internet.

The deep web, often confused with the dark web, is that part of the World Wide Web that doesn’t show up on search engines like Google. While you can access them with your regular browser, you’d have to enter a direct URL or IP address. URLs that aren’t indexed by search engines constitute the deep web.

According to Digital, the deep web includes “the internal sites of major companies, associations, and trade organizations; the school, college, and university intranet systems; access to online databases; password-protected websites with members-only access; paywall enshrouded pages; timed access pages such as those found on online test-taking sites;” etc.

The dark web is the most inaccessible part of the internet. In order to access this part of the web, you would have to use a special browser, like Tor. These browsers mask the original IP address of its users, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to track down the identity or location of the user.

dark web

ARE ALL ACTIVITIES ON THIS PART OF THE WEB ILLEGAL?

The anonymous nature of the web allows people to engage in a variety of illegal activities.

According to CSO –

“You can buy credit card numbers, all manner of drugs, guns, counterfeit money, stolen subscription credentials, hacked Netflix accounts and software that helps you break into other people’s computers. Buy login credentials to a $50,000 Bank of America account for $500. Get $3,000 in counterfeit $20 bills for $600. Buy seven prepaid debit cards, each with a $2,500 balance, for $500 (express shipping included). A “lifetime” Netflix premium account goes for $6. You can hire hackers to attack computers for you. You can buy usernames and passwords.”

In addition to all of this, you can buy/sell drugs, stolen goods, weapons, explosives, hacked government data, and even child pornography.

However, this is not all there is to the dark web. Contrary to popular belief, not all of the dark web is “dark.”

Cyber-security expert Dr. Richard Harknett, head of UC’s Department of Political Science, says –

“We see democratic reformers in autocratic societies using the dark web to get around the censorship and some cases state police apparatuses that exist in more authoritarian states.”

It allows citizens to access websites blocked by the government, it allows journalists to access anonymous sources, and it also gives whistle-blowers a platform to expose major scams.

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dark web

As WIRED reported, “One of the first high profile Dark Web sites was the Tor hidden service WikiLeaks created to accept leaks from anonymous sources.”

The dark web is the perfect example to show the power of the internet and that of anonymity. This anonymity and global reach allow people to engage in absolutely vile and disgusting acts, but at the same time, it allows communication that can change the fate of an entire nation.

No matter how much you read about the dark web, or how much of it you access, there will always be an ocean of areas that are unexplored.

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Rhythm Bhatia

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