A few facts to capture your attention:
- 96% of the internet is beyond search engines such as Google and Bing
- The deep web market place, Silkroad, that has been taken offline allowed users to buy drugs, guns and other goods. The site was involved in $1.2 billion worth of transactions making approximately $80 million in commission.
- Bitcoin is the dominant currency of the deep web.
- Edward Snowden used it to leak files of NSA’s mass surveillance programs. (If you want to know more about this, check this website made by the british newspaper The Guardian here)
- Cicada 3301 is a treasure hunt that emerged in 2012, taking players into the Deep Web. Puzzles focused on code breaking, leading to theories that it is a recruiting tool for government agencies.
- Services such as hitmen for hire and arms dealers are available on the Deep Web
What is the Deep Web?
It is hard to say what the Deep Web is. Ask 10 people and chances are that you will get 10 different definitions.
You can define it as anything that can’t be accessed by a search engine that crawls links on web pages. A relatively large part of the deep web consists of files or documents that exist on closed forums, court databases or protected social media posts.
The TOR network is a small part of the Deep Web. Most of the content that is on the Deep Web is content on the public Internet that you are more than likely already accessing one search at a time.
What is TOR?
TOR is short for The Onion Router. The concepts behind it were first implemented by the United States military, and these principles have been used to create an extremely secure mechanism for being anonymous online. In fact, millions of people world-wide use TOR to browse the internet and communicate anonymously.
TOR works by heavily encrypting your communications so that no observer can see what website you are really going to and what information is being sent. It all appears as a bunch of random characters to any observer. By simply using the TOR browser, everything is done for you automatically. In order to download the TOR browser check this link (I would advise you to read a bit more about how to protect your identity on TOR before you get the browser and start surfing the network though).
Who could be interested in the Deep Web and why?
The conviction that the Deep Web represents a parallel world of illicit activities is profoundly wrong. First of all, remember how illicit activities are daily arranged on the clear web – there are many cases in which different platforms were used to spread and sell malware.
When we speak of hidden web we can think of a dark world that allows total anonymity under specific conditions – this aspect makes the Deep Web very appealing to cyber criminals but at the same time this very same Deep Web is the privileged channel used by governments to change documents secretly, by journalists to bypass censorship of several states, and many others. These are just a few samples of not illicit use of the deep web.
Despite the fact that the Deep Web provides an environment to protect users’ privacy, there are several conditions and different types of attacks that could expose a user’s identity. Governments are increasing their capability of monitoring the hidden network, mainly trying to infiltrate their spying services.
The conclusion is that as with most of the things, there are pros and cons. I hope that you now know a bit more about the Deep Web and can argue those who say that it is the reign of evil.