An Insight to The Dark Web
Photo Courtesy: Kundan S. Rana All of us use the Internet on daily basis for various purposes. We use it to view the things we need and we do not care about the rest. We also believe that Google is a search engine that can find everything on the Internet. While this is true, Google itself is not able to find everything on the Internet. There are deeper parts of the Internet that normal methods cannot get us into. This part is called the Dark Web. It has other names as well like Deep Net, Deep Web, Invisible Web, Hidden Web. It is a part of the Internet that is not authorized for normal everyday use. The Dark Web is a labyrinth of networks, encryptions, proxy, security walls, and other specialized tools. One cannot access the Dark Web without a commanding knowledge of Computer Science and its fields. This is because to access the Dark Web and its contents we need specialized skills in Networking, Hacking, Internet Ethics, Cryptography, Programming, Routing and many others. Besides being totally secure, there is also a matter of knowing what type of content is available in the Dark Web. The contents are of secure nature that can be good for the society and sometimes these are of vile, crude and disturbing nature. The main users of the Dark Web are criminals, drug dealers and others people of that sort. It is a place for illegal and unethical interaction between people who are not part of normal society. The Dark Web is not always bad but one would recommend others to stay away from it. The Dark Web is regularly being watched by Government bodies such as FBI, CIA, FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) and others on issues of illegal selling and buying of contrabands. There are also contents that go against the normal norm of human society. So, regular people are neither encouraged nor allowed to enter the Dark Web. But as Computer Science students, we should at least know about it and not be caught by surprise in the future. What is the Dark Web? The Dark Web is a term that refers specifically to a collection of websites that are publicly visible, but hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them. Thus they can be visited by any web user, but it is very difficult to work out who is behind the sites. And you cannot find these sites using search engines. Almost all sites on the so-called Dark Web hide their identity using the Tor encryption tool. You may know Tor for its end-user-hiding properties. You can use Tor to hide your identity, and spoof your location. When a website is run through Tor it has much the same effect. To visit a site on the Dark Web that is using Tor encryption, the web user needs to be using Tor. Just as the end user's IP is bounced through several layers of encryption to appear to be at another IP address on the Tor network, so is that of the website. So there are several layers of magnitude more secret than the already secret act of using Tor to visit a website on the open Internet. Infamous examples of Dark Web sites include the Silk Road and its offspring. The Silk Road was (and maybe still is) a website for buying and selling of contrabands. But there are legitimate uses for the Dark Web. People operating within closed, totalitarian societies can use the Dark Web to communicate with the outside world. And given recent revelations about US and UK government snooping on web use, one may feel it is sensible to take your communication on to the Dark Web. What about the 'Dark Internet'? Confusingly, 'Dark Internet' is also a term sometimes used to describe further examples of networks, databases or even websites that cannot be reached over the Internet. In this case either for technical reasons, or because the properties contain secure information that few people will want, or in some cases because the data is private. Basically, the phrases 'Dark Web' or 'Deep Web' are typically used by tabloid newspapers to refer to dangerous secret online worlds. The 'Dark Internet' is a boring place where scientists store raw data for research. The Deep Web is a catch-all term for all web pages that are not indexed for search. How to access the Dark Web? Technically, this is not a difficult process. You simply need to install and use Tor. Go to www.torproject.org and download the Tor Browser Bundle, which contains all the required tools. Run the downloaded file, choose an extraction location, then open the folder and click Start Tor Browser. That's it. The control panel will automatically handle the randomized network setup and, when Tor is ready, the browser will open; just close it again to disconnect from the network. The difficult thing is knowing where to look. And a warning before you go any further. Once you get into the Dark Web, you *will* be able to access those sites to which the tabloids refer. This means that you could be a click away from sites selling drugs and guns, and frankly, even worse things. Also, Dark Web sites do go down from time to time, due to their dark nature. But if you want good customer service, stay out of the dark! And do heed our warning: this article is intended as a guide to what is the Dark Web - not an endorsement or encouragement for you to start behaving in illegal or immoral behavior.