Ever heard about the term ‘Dark Web’? the name itself sounds so mysterious! Alright, many of you might have come across this term but won’t know what exactly it is as there are lots of different stories revolving around it. So, to help you understand, this article focuses on everything you need to know about Dark Web and the facts related to it.
What Exactly is Dark Web?
The Dark web is a World Wide Web content that exists on darknets. It is a decentralized network of internet sites that try to make users as anonymous as possible by routing all their communications through multiple servers and encrypting them at every step. With the help of the dark web, private straphanger networks can communicate and conduct business anonymously without disclosing identifying information, such as a user’s location.
The darknets that comprise the dark web contain small, friend-to-friend peer-to-peer networks and big, popular networks such as Tor, Freenet, I2P, and Riffle operated by public organizations and individuals.
Who Invented Dark Web?
The dark web was constructed by the US government to allow spies to exchange information being completely anonymous. The US military researchers developed the technology, known as Tor (The Onion Router) in the mid-1990s and then released it to the public domain for everyone to use. It was named The Onion Router because it uses the technique of onion routing i.e. making websites anonymous through layers of encryption. Most of the websites are also hosted on the .onion domain.
Key Layers That Make Dark Web An Unidentifiable Harbour
1. It has ‘No Webpage Indexing’ by any surface web search engines. Popular search engines like Google and other search tools cannot discover or display results for pages within the dark web.
2. It has “Virtual traffic tunnels” through a randomized network infrastructure.
3. It is completely Inaccessible by any kind of traditional browser as it has a unique registry operator. It is additionally hidden by numerous network security measures like firewalls and encryption.
What Users Do Using the Dark Web
The dark web is used by enormous users to perform some kind of incognito activities and transactions and people who are extremely concerned about their privacy while surfing or even playing online games. But yes, various illegal activities are also carried out on the dark web. The University of Portsmouth conducted a study in 2014 and found that the most wanted and searched content on Tor was child porn, followed by black markets for goods such as drugs, personal details and even guns.
It is also used for hiding online activities related to finance, extremism, arms, hacking, abuse, and fraud. Well, there are also some positive sides to the use of the Dark Web like avoiding a national firewall, TOR is excellent.
Is It Illegal For Anyone To Use The Dark Web?
No, it isn’t illegal for anyone to use the dark web unless and until you yourself get involved in any illegal activity or transactions. Some users are perfectly legal and support its value. Its legality is completely based on how you as a user engage with it. You may fall to the side of legal lines for many reasons that are important for the protection of freedom. Others may interact in ways that are illegal for the protection and safety of others.
Threats on Dark Web
Below mentioned are some common threats that users face while browsing.
Malware is alive across the dark web. It lingers all around the dark web to infect unsuspecting users just the way it does on the rest of the web. It doesn’t contain many of the social contracts that website providers follow to protect users on the rest of the web. The most common types of malware to which users are exposed are keyloggers, ransomware, phishing malware and botnet malware. The anonymity is strong with Tor and the framework, but it is not completely error-free. If someone digs too deep your online activities have the chance of getting caught too.
Various alleged services look like professional services but actually are scams designed to gain profits. Many reports have also suggested that the dark web offers numerous illegal services, from paid assassinations to trafficking for sex and weapons. Also, few users on the dark web attempt phishing scams to steal your identity or personal information for extortion.
3. Government Monitoring
Police Authorities across the globe are overtaking a lot of Tor-based sites. So, the chances are high that you might become a target of the government for visiting such sites. There is evidence in the past like one of the Illegal drug marketplaces the Silk Road was hijacked for police surveillance. Even if you never make a purchase, you could be watched and incriminate for other activities later in life. The risk of being a visitor to any illegal type of content could lead to being placed on a watchlist or immediate targeting for a jail sentence.
Why is it called ‘A Home To Illegal Activities’?
Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid in the year 2016 made a strenuous attempt to find out how much per cent of it constitutes illegal activity. Their findings were:
They firstly identified 5,205 sites, nearly 48% apparently inactive and containing no content. Among the active ones, more than half were illegal sites hosting illegal activities and content.
Apparently, 423 sites were trading or manufacturing illegal drugs, including illegally obtained prescription medicines.
327 sites seemingly facilitated financial crime, such as money laundering, counterfeiting, or trade-in stolen accounts or credit cards.
They also discovered 140 sites “espousing extremist ideologies” or “support for terrorist violence,” some with how-to guides or extremist community forums.
122 sites contained pornography “involving children, violence, animals, or materials obtained without participants’ consent.”
They also found fewer hacking tools and marketplaces; a few dozen sites trading weaponry, and 17 sites claiming to offer hitmen for hire or facilitating violence in other ways.
The Positive Side of Dark Web
Organisations can leverage the anonymity of the dark web to strengthen security. An organisation can search the dark web to see if any of its internal IP addresses, usernames, and passwords have been posted. Government agencies and contractors can utilize the services like Peraton’s TORNADO to frequently check the dark web to understand what people are talking about them. the dark web can also be useful to get information on topics censored by the government.
One of the biggest examples is during the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, information about the outreach was initially censored, and doctors were also restricted from speaking out about the threat. Concerned about the potential spread of the deadly virus, Chinese netizens posted updates to the dark web, knowing it would be much harder for their government to trace the leaked information.
Some Interesting Facts Related To Dark Web
1. The activity has increased by 300% in the last 3 years and more than 2 million active users connect to the Dark Web through the TOR browser every day.
2. The Bandwidth capacity of TOR has increased from 50 gigabits per second in 2014 to approximately 300 gigabits per second in 2018.
3. 60% of the information available on the Dark Web have the potential to harm enterprises.
4. The total value of bitcoin transacted on it jumped by 65% in the year 2019.
5. Its markets also deal in other shady things like criminal services, espionage, illegal collectables or animals, human trafficking, credit card numbers, drugs, guns, counterfeit money, stolen goods, password lists, cybercrime software, cracked credentials, and many more.