Search engine results only show a fraction of the content available on the web. A layer below these well-trodden results is the deep web, a mine of hidden content, and below that is the dark web. Read on to find out what the dark web is and how it is accessed.
What exactly is the dark web?
On the dark web there is content that search engines do not index and that requires authorization or certain software to access it. Dark web content is found on the dark web: a part of the web that is only accessible through certain browsers or certain settings.
Unlike the Dark Ages, the dark web does not receive this name due to a lack of information or knowledge; rather it is bursting with products for sale and resources. However, the dark web is also designed to provide anonymity by ensuring the privacy of communications by encrypting and routing content through multiple servers.
Often viewed as a forum for criminal activity, the dark web isn’t necessarily bad or full of danger. It is an anonymous space on the network that can be used inappropriately or usefully.
Now that we have shed some light on this concept, let’s dig deeper: what is the dark web?
The dark web and the deep web
What is the difference between the dark web and the deep web? Let’s start with the surface. When using a search engine like Google to find out, for example, “Why is my succulent dying?”, the results that appear come from the surface web . The surface web refers to content published on the Internet that does not require payment barriers or login to access and is also indexed in search engines.
So, in the above query, the search engine would likely surface (ie, show you) blog articles about succulents or website guides about nurseries.
If you were only spending time on the surface web, you might wonder if the deep web exists or is illegal. Yes, it really exists and it is not illegal. The deep web consists of any content that is behind payment barriers, authentication methods, logins, or passwords, so you probably access the deep web quite a bit in your digital life. Deep web content is not indexed and does not appear in normal search results.
In fact, much of the content that the average person sees on the Internet is part of the deep web: email, online banking information, private social media accounts, or paid streaming sites. No one wants their email history to be available on the surface web and visible to anyone doing a search.
Beneath the surface and within the deep web is the dark web.
The content of the dark web is deliberately hidden from normal browsers, but it can be accessed with Tor, an acronym that stands for The Onion Router. To access the Tor network, you can use the browser of the same name.
Unlike conventional browsers, Tor uses “onion-like” routing. This encrypts the traffic and directs it through various servers around the world in order to keep the IP address of the user making a search anonymous, which allows searches to be private. Also, all domains on the Tor network end with the top-level domain “.onion” (instead of “.com”). The many layers of an onion represent the multiple layers of encryption and privacy of the Tor network.
- The surface web includes public websites that can be searched (blogs, e-commerce, or news pages).
- The deep web is made up of sites that require a login to access (email, banking portals, or subscription services).
- The dark web requires special tools to access, such as the Tor browser, and is not indexed by search engines.
Why was the dark web created?
The history of the dark web is said to have begun with the launch of Freenet in 2000. Freenet was a thesis submitted by Ian Clarke, a student at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, who had set out to create ” A Decentralized Distributed Information Storage and Retrieval System “.In other words, he was trying to figure out a way to communicate, exchange files, and interact online anonymously.
In 2002, the dark web links grew dramatically when researchers funded by the US Naval Research Laboratory designed and launched the Tor network. In the first decade of the 21st century, the Internet was still young and easy to surveil: it was relatively easy to track anyone online, and quite difficult to remain anonymous. The Tor network was designed to open secure channels of communication for dissidents residing in countries with oppressive governments, as well as US intelligence agents spread across the globe.