Beware The Deep, Dark Web!
Every so often, the mainstream media likes to tell us a scary story about the spooky, dangerous “Dark Web” where criminals, terrorists, hackers, and spammers conspire to victimize all of us. The reality is a bit more balanced and not so scary. There is a “Deep Web” where nobody wants to go and a “Dark Web” where people lurk anonymously but most of them are up to legitimate, even noble business.
What's Hiding in the Deep and Dark Webs?
Technically defined, the “Deep Web” is simply that vast portion of the Web that search engines don’t index. While Google, Yahoo, and other search engines can provide billions more Web pages than you can live to view, that still leaves over 90% of Internet destinations unsearchable. If you don’t know the URL (web page address), you can’t just “google” it. You have to find the “secret” URL another way, usually getting it from someone who knows it. So what’s out there in the deep, dark part of the Web?
Yes, there are bad places, people, and activities; they’re part of what’s called the “Dark Web” or “Darknet” for dramatic effect. “The Silk Road” was one infamous criminal site where drugs, weapons, data, hacking services and all manner of illicit things were traded until the FBI arrested its owner back in October, 2013. Some referred to Silk Road as the Amazon.com of the underworld, because it made shopping for illegal goods so easy.
Ross William Ulbricht, 29, known by his hacker handle "Dread Pirate Roberts," was nailed on charges of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Court documents allege that over $1.7 million in illegal money changed hands each month on The Silk Road. Other black market websites exist, but Silk Road was the best known.
Most of the rest of the Deep Web is unindexed simply because it’s uninteresting. Most of the Internet of Things fits into this category. (See What is the Internet of Things?) Who really wants to google the URL of a toaster? There are also password-protected sites that are accessible only to those with memberships or subscriptions to the content stored there. If there's a lock on the door, search engines can't get in to index the pages stored at that location.
And then there are legions of websites that just have no useful content. They may be spammy, scammy, ripoffs or duplicates that will never appear in search results, because search engines have gotten wise to many of the tricks that black-hats use to "game" the search results. There are also websites that have no inbound links, so search engines will never find them.
Sometimes You Need to Hide
But there are also oases of light in the Deep Web that can’t be called dark by any means. They’re where the struggle for freedom rages.
Dissidents, journalists, peace activists, and other good guys often need to hide their activities from oppressive governments and other institutions. Many citizens of China, Iran and other totalitarian nations cannot freely access uncensored news or trade opinions and facts about politics or corruption. Some of these people turn to the Deep Web, to hidden forums, sites, and servers of information that protect their secrets and identities. Law enforcement and the military also use Tor to protect their communications and intelligence gathering.
One of the most popular privacy tools is called Tor. Tor is, essentially, a network of Web proxy servers and browser software designed for them. When using the Tor browser, your identity and location are obscured and your connection to the Tor network is encrypted. Even your ISP doesn’t know where you’re really going because he can’t read the data stream that passes between you and the Tor proxy server. All anyone knows is that you accessed a Tor server.
Your requests for Web content go to a Tor server, which then reaches out to grab the requested content and relay it back to you over that encrypted connection. The destination site sees the Tor server’s location and ID but never yours. Theoretically, there is no way to tell what you accessed via a Tor server.
So the Deep Web is like any other phenomenon: a mixture of light and dark, good and evil, benefit and harm. It’s symbol might well be the Yin Yang which illustrates how opposite forces can be interconnected and intermingled.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 29 May 2014
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved