The Dark Web

Beneath the web we all use exists a hidden form of the Internet called the Dark Web. What is this Dark Web? No doubt, many of you have heard of it. This question is somewhat tricky to answer. Is it just something that feeds our imagination, or is it an Internet platform that harkens back to the ‘wild west,’ gunslinger-type society of the 1800’s? The short answer is - it’s mostly the latter.

Two Parts

The world-wide-web has essentially been classified into two parts; the surface web, and the dark or deep web. Most pundits will argue that dark and deep are two separate entities. I won’t disagree with that, but to me they’re both classified as mysterious; and for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the dark side. Facts on the number of nefarious sites vary, but the consensus is that it is 500 times larger than the common web.

The surface web is what we all use on a regular basis. Everything that’s publicly available and accessible resides here. If you were to type a URL into your web browser or do a search on Google or Yahoo, these results would be considered public. All this content can be accessed by standard software.

It is reported that the rest of the web (some 90+ percent) is made up of the deep, dark web. The Dark Web is a different animal. At its’ core, it can actually be thought of as the wild west. From here users can purchase illegal drugs and software, stolen identities and credit card information, human trafficking, and more. It is something most refer to as the anonymous Internet. Within this platform, users are entirely private.

How would I access this mysterious place? I won’t go into detail, but it is accessible by using the TOR network and a TOR browser. By default, these are meant to keep their users anonymous by masking their originating IP address (address associated with your Internet connection). Possibly one of the most known black markets in the recent past was known as the ‘Silk Road’ - where users could purchase seemingly any sort of illegal drugs imaginable. This website was ultimately shut down after an FBI investigation, but related sites still exist. The FBI has subsequently shut down other illegal sites.

What happens when my credit card information or identity is stolen?

You guessed it, chances are that it will end up on the dark web. What can I do to protect my information from landing in the dark web? As I have stressed in recent articles, keeping your passwords up-to-date is your best defense. Also, if you are not sure whether an email or link is legitimate, don’t open it!

If you are diligent about protecting your personal information and where you surf, the good news is you may never have to deal with the dark side.

-Lonny Dockendorf, The Broadband Guy