The Dark Web sometimes referred to as the darknet, is a web platform comprising online contents that require particular browsers, software, or consent to access. This is due to the amount of privacy associated with the dark web, unlike other usual surface web browsers. It is a private network that runs secretly and contains websites that are hidden and aren’t accessible to the general public.
The dark web is where people can go to perform activities while preserving their anonymity without getting tracked. Although the dark web has been known to be utilized mostly for unlawful or unethical actions like selling drugs, fraud, etc, there are also valid activities people choose to perform anonymously like running blogs, crypto, conveying political viewpoints, etc.
The use of cryptocurrency for trading on the dark web has become quite common because this is a digital currency that offers traders anonymity. Cybercriminals have also taken advantage of this means as a way to commit fraud and other illicit acts and not get traced or arrested.
Distinguishing the surface web from the dark web
The surface web, also known as the open web or visible internet contains sites and contents that are accessed via search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and the likes. The surface web is approximated to be 5% of the internet while the deep web takes about 90%. It consists of unrestricted websites with domains like .com, .net, etc, which are indexed and ranked based on keywords.
The dark web is a portion of the deep web that consists of contents that are not indexed by search engines. It displays sites using information from individual accounts that aren’t available or indexed online e.g. social media, email accounts, bank accounts, private databases, etc.
How can you access the Dark Web?
As stated earlier, the dark web can only be accessed using specific browsers or software due to its privacy priorities. The most popular dark web browser used is the TOR (The Onion Router) browser.
TOR network browser is a project built by the United States Naval Research Laboratory in the early 2000s. It was initially made for securing communications that needed to be private before it was repurposed and made public for anyone to download and access freely.
TOR browser offers encrypted pathways for dark web users to conduct their activities anonymously. It lets them access varieties of websites containing the .onion domain. It conceals the location and activities of the user from being tracked. TOR operates using exit nodes which are encrypted servers that give users IP address anonymity and allow them to operate confidentially.
TOR network has been used for both legal and illegal activities by darknet users e.g. dealing illicit drugs, circulating unlawful sexual content, bank fraud, money laundering, exchanging of currency, blogging, sharing political conceptions, etc.
Is it illegal to use the dark web?
No, it is not illegal or unlawful to use the dark web, although there are presumptions of the dark web being an illegal platform to engage in due to its nature. It is available for use to the entire public to perform private and anonymous activities that they don’t feel safe performing on the regular surface web browsers.
The activities and contents on the Dark web
- Financing and fraud
- Hacking groups and service
- Illegal Pornography
- Bitcoin services
- Darknet market: This includes the trading of illicit goods and services using Bitcoin as the payment currency.
- Terrorism: Terrorists utilize the chat platforms on the dark web to plan terrorist attacks and receive financial support without getting traced.
- Social media platforms: The network is referred to as the Dark Web Social Network (DWSN) where users can socialize, chat, blog and post without exposing any personal information.
- Unverified contents.
- Political dissidents.
Merits and demerits of the dark web
1. The dark web offers privacy to its users
2. It allows people to express their thoughts, feelings and beliefs freely without fear In public.
3. Makes communication between law officers confidential to avoid getting noticed by criminals.
1. Provision of an anonymous platform for criminals to perform their activities
2. Can be used to share the personal information of others and violate their privacy.