What is the Dark Web?

I’ve mentioned the dark web in several past blogs. Since then, I have received a lot of requests asking for me to explain what the dark web is. The best explanation compares the web to an iceberg. The part of the iceberg that extends above the water is what we consider the world wide web (WWW). This is what everyone is familiar with, where we use a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. to access the WWW. Companies like Google, Mozilla (the creators of Firefox), Yahoo and others have made a business out of cataloging and indexing publicly available information. For the most part, the WWW is considered safe to access.

The next layer of the Internet is called the deep web. This layer is compared to the part of the iceberg that is below the water surface, but not in total darkness. The deep web makes up over 90% of all the content stored in the web (cloud). The deep web data is easily accessed and is, for the most part, considered safe. Everyone reading this typically accesses the deep web multiple times a day. This is where secure data is held (non-public). Examples of deep web content includes: your medical records, your buying history on Amazon, your banking information, etc. The difference between the WWW and the deep web is this data is not public information and is hidden from the search engines that focus on indexing the WWW. Users are typically required to log into these back end, deep web services.

The dark web as we know it today was developed by the US Navy back in the mid-1990’s to send secure government information. In 2004, it was released as open source software. The project was called “The Onion Router (Tor)”. Tor sites end with a “.onion” domain name. The reason for the open source release of the code was to generate traffic using this technology, to make it more difficult to identify government secure traffic vs. other general traffic. In order to access the dark web, all you have to do is download the Tor browser.

The dark web, if used correctly, provides total anonymity and is used heavily to transact illegal activity. Cryptocurrency allows dark web users to transact deals and pay for goods and services with the same level of anonymity. The dark web is also used by individuals who are concerned over privacy issues.

I do not recommend anyone to experiment on the dark web. While the goal of the dark web is to protect your identity, it is full of criminals and you must take precautions to keep yourself safe. It is also highly possible that you may accidentally stumble upon illegal material, which may lead to you being prosecuted for a crime.

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Posted by Jack Gerbs