It is human nature to become more involved in something that is forbidden or dangerous. That’s why more and more users try to get at least a glimpse at the Dark Web. But what is the Dark Web and how is it used?
The Dark Web has often been conflated with the Deep Web. Being just a tiny part of the Deep Web, the Dark Web damages its reputation all the time. To understand the main difference, read our brief review of three main parts of the World Wide Web.
The research based on social network analysis has shown that the communication in the Dark Web can be categorised in separate communities: low-level underground forums, higher-level forums, and dark markets.
Therefore, the Dark Web can be a perfect source of information and communication that can’t be found in the Surface Web. Newsrooms like SoylentNews and ProPublica are independent, non-profit websites that produce investigative journalism in the public interest. The anonymity provided by the Dark Web keeps the journalists and their sources safe.
But at the same time this part of the web can be really dangerous and dark, if you’ll pardon the pun. It has a lot of objectionable and even illegal content: drugs, shocking content distributed through photos and videos, stolen identities and much more. If you are entering the Dark Web, you are doing it at your own risk. So think twice before exploring the darkest places of the internet.
Software and networks
To gain access to the websites that aren’t available to average internet users, you need to prepare a special “dark equipment” such as VPN and Tor browser.
VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a safe and encrypted connection between a particular user and a network or several networks.
VPN networks enable its users to operate the internet keeping the information confidential. The VPN technology encrypts all the actions taken on the internet. When you enter the web through it, your real internet access point is changed by one of many VPN-routers. So you are hidden by encrypted data and another IP-address.
Launched in 1996 by Microsoft to give the employees access to the company’s internal network, VPN became popular among other companies and organisations. Nowadays it is a tool of not only business, but also consumer environment.
TOR (The Onion Router) is another free software that enables users to browse the web anonymously.
Released in 2002 and built on more than 7000 free relays hosted by its community, TOR provides the user with a high level of anonymity in the transport layer by using multi-layer encryptions per node in its circuit.
Developed to give access to .onion network (special Dark Web domain) websites, TOR won’t lead you to these sites straight after launching the browser. To get to the particular .onion website, you need to know its exact address.
TOR works closely with other systems. For example, all Tails incoming and outgoing connections are forced to go through TOR, and any non-anonymous connections are blocked.
I2P (Invisible Internet Project) is a fully encrypted anonymous peer to peer (P2P) network layer.
Being released in 2003, I2P keeps growing every day thanks to its features and with growing concerns about TOR’s security. Because of the complexity, the world of I2P isn’t so diverse as the .onion environment reached through TOR. But with due efford its users can succeed in search of useful, frightening, interesting or illegal thighs: blogs, forums, tradings, libraries, crimes and cryptocurrency.
There are different internet services implemented on top of I2P, such as: HTTP, email, IRC, and file sharing. It is mainly used as a VPN to access the Clearnet (and bypass IP restrictions). As a web service, there are a few hundred to a few thousand websites.
A decentralized, web-like P2P network based on BitTorrent and Bitcoin technologies. Released in 2015, it has a rich variety of feachers and differs from others by being user-friendly.
The decentralisation is a process of creating multiple copies of a website that protects it from being blocked and enabling its 24/7 operation. Once a user requests a site, it is downloaded to the user machine and then served locally (127.0.0.1), similar to Torrent file sharing.
Each new client gets a unique ID that is used as its identity to any interaction. This network provides anonymity both in the transport and end point.
ZeroNet is still “young” and most of its content revolves around pirate content. The most common uses are for data leakages and zero days publication.
A fully decentralized e-Commerce protocol marketplace, where all goods and serv1ices can be paid only by cryptocurrency directly from buyer to seller.
Started by OB1 company in 2016, OpenBazaar facilitates a robust approach to add marketplaces without the fear of shutdowns by an entity (the case of SilkRoad). In his interview to Epicenter, Brian Hoffman (CEO of OB1) mentioned that the numbers of transactions and sales can’t be measured due to the private settings of OpenBazaar. But there are around 12-14 thousand listings available on the marketplace with 400-700 new notes of the network every day.
OpenBazaar offers both easy-to-design and run marketplaces including anonymized built-in cryptocurrency payments. The most illicit content on OpenBazaar includes piracy, porno, drugs, and hacking services/products.
A VOIP group-chatting platform.
Being originally built in 2015 as an application that helped people come together around games, Discord grew into a place where millions of people connect with each other via texts, videos, and audio and reaches over 130 million. It has over 530 million daily messages.
The Discord platform (client & server) uses web technologies that cross all operating systems. It uses end-to-end security and anonymity which attracts different raging communities that discuss: race, religion, politics, pornography, and terror groups.
IRC (Internet Relay Chat)
An application layer protocol to facilitate chat-based communication
Released in 1988, IRC has many forms across multiple operating system platforms. Today it reaches over 500,000 users and is used by criminals primarily for: cyber criminal activity coordination, porn, piracy, and extremism.
In our next articles you’ll find out some of the worst things that can be found in the Dark Web and also the most popular cybercrimes. After all, it is worth remembering that after being caught users are charged for all illegal activities they have partaken in on the Dark Web.