An Introduction to the Dark Web
Would it surprise you if you were to find out that over 99% of the Internet is not accessible through search engines? The truth is that the Internet you know, the one with what is seemingly all of history’s information on it, makes up around .03% of the entirety of the world wide web. Today, we’ll burrow through the surface web and take a look at what is beneath.
In the west, the Dark Web is mostly known as a sinister network used to traffic in all kinds of illegal contraband, but in other parts of the world it is often looked upon as the last bastion of privacy in what can be horribly repressive political regimes. Overall, the Dark Web in practice is a construct that supports user anonymity.
Keep in mind that we are certainly not endorsing use of the Dark Web. We just want you to be aware that the Internet you routinely access, or what we will call the surface web in this blog, is in fact a very small piece of the enormity of the web itself.
A Complete Look at the World Wide Web
If the Internet that we can all access only makes up of a very small percentage of the entire Internet, what is hosted on the rest of it? In what is known as the “Deep Web”, most of the Internet is filled with legitimate data; mostly in the form of unindexed content. Data that is encrypted such as online banking, pay-to-play video services, and other forms of everyday Internet use make up a large portion of the Deep Web. With the revelations that there was an online black market where people could get almost anything, many people started confusing the deep web with the dark web, or darknet. This misconception has many people confused about what exactly the purpose is for the seemingly bottomless Internet, but with most of it being taken up by cloud environments and other encrypted services, the notion that the Deep Web is somehow nefarious is misplaced.
What is the Dark Web?
On the other hand, the Dark Web is also hosted on the Deep Web, beyond sight of the average Internet user. While the surface web is unencrypted and able to be accessed by just about anyone who wants to use it, the Dark Web is accessed only through encrypted browsers. You may have heard of specific ransomware programs asking you to download the Tor web browser to make payments. This is because Tor is one of the web browsers able to browse the Dark Web, although it should be mentioned that it’s not exclusively used for the purposes of paying ransomware demands.
Tor is what is known as an onion router. Essentially in order to maintain a user’s anonymity, an onion router will pass user queries through several intermediary accounts to hide the user from being tracked. It’s like passing each command through the several layers of an onion, thus the moniker.
What Else is On the Dark Web?
The services offered on the Dark Web are varied, but they all generally have one thing in common--most of them are illegal. If you can think of it, and it’s not on the normal World Wide Web, chances are there is a place on the Dark Web for it. Some of the services provided on the Dark Web can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Illegal pornography
- Bitcoin services (not outright illegal, but often used for money laundering purposes)
- Botnets that can be bought or purchased for nefarious use
- Markets for drugs, weapons, and other illegal contraband
- Scams and other phishing threats are rampant on the Dark Web, so even those who are looking to take advantage of these services have to be careful
Most notable for businesses is that hacking services can be acquired for even non-experienced users, meaning that anyone with an agenda has access to services that could cripple your business. It’s more important today than ever before to make sure that your organization is taking the necessary measures to protect itself from these threats.
With so much information hidden from view, there is a significant chance that there may be information out there that may end up becoming problematic for your business. At First Column, we can scan to ensure that your passwords or other personal information isn’t readily available. Call us today to learn more at 703-880-6683.