What is the Dark Web? Also called the Darknet or sometimes the Deep Web, the Dark Web is Associated with Cybercrime But Even the CIA Has a Dark Web Site
Dark web is a broad term that refers to areas on the internet that cannot be accessed on standard web browsers like Google Chrome or Apple Safari. It is essentially a collection of unindexed websites, not just a single area of the internet, that allow people to use the internet anonymously. Many times it is used to sell and traffic illegal goods and services. Due to recent advancements, law enforcement has been able to gain some ground and shut down some major dark web sites.
Many people think the dark web refers to a certain web browser or domain name on the internet. It’s true, you do need an onion browser or Tor browser to access these hidden sites. These are free to download and use. You need to know the IP address of the site you want to go to. Another name for the dark web include the darknet. It’s also referred to as the deep web, but this is a misnomer.
Dark web sites are almost always set up for conducting illegal business activities so the name has become a blanket term for internet websites used by hackers, weapons dealers, illegal drug sales, and other illegal businesses.
Dark websites do not usually show up on Google.com or other web searches. That’s because they don’t use domain names like PinTalk.net, They use their IP addresses to help hide their identities and so they can change servers quickly if needed. Major search engines also ban them and remove them from search queries when they do show up in search results. So sometimes, a dark site may show in a web search, but not usually.
Dark web sites use masked IP addresses to maintain privacy for users and its website owners and to avoid being caught. Darknet sites are accessible by IP addresses, by using a Tor browser using the onion protocol. You may need a key to enter a deep web area and when you do get in, you cannot see more than necessary. The dark web can also be Dropboxes, Google docs, or ordinary web servers accessible by IP.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are common ways to pay for goods and services on the dark web.
The dark web is notorious for selling illegal goods. Physical goods such as illegal drugs and firearms are for sale. The dark web is an exchange for human trafficking. Stolen goods such as hacked credit cards, passwords, and banking information is also put up for sale on the deep web. Hackers sell their services and apps as well.
What is a Tor Browser?
Tor browsers are used for anonymous web surfing. They hide the identity of the user by splitting the web traffic up between Tor users’ machines. Unlike ordinary internet web browsing, web traffic does not route from servers to one computer. Instead, the web traffic travels from the router then randomly through the Tor browser network to the final user. Each Tor browser works to download bytes of information and parts of pages for everyone using it.
For dark web browsing, it is better to use a VPN than a Tor browser. Snowden revealed that the NSA compromised Tor and can use it to track down criminals. A VPN offers protection from ad servers and tracking cookies.
It is not illegal to download or use a Tor browser as long as you don’t buy or sell anything illegal.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers