We all know the Clear Web/Clear Net. This is the normal internet where you do everyday things like check Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter and buy things from Amazon etc. All websites and web pages that a search engine like Google can find are on the Clear Net. Then, we have the Deep Web. This is a sub-set of the internet that can’t be indexed (found) by search engines like Google. This includes all web pages that are behind membership logins, all company and organization web pages used internally and other data. The majority of the deep web does not have anything illegal on it.  The Deep Web is the part of the Internet that houses 90+ percent of the web yet it’s completely tucked away from the easy access we’ve come to enjoy from search engines. The Dark Web, on the other hand, is a smaller portion of these Deep Web that’s only accessible with special software like the Tor browser.

 The Dark Web is not separate from the Deep Web, but rather it is a portion of the Deep Web. Specifically, it’s the portion neither standard search engines nor standard web browsers can access.  It is no less dangerous to your computer and losing data.  Of course there are sights and exploits setup specifically to rob visitors and play their role in imposter scam and other activities.

 It is true that you can find hitmen, illegal drugs, recipes for cooking humans, credit card numbers, information to steal identities and much more on the Dark Web.  So, you can see why some enterprises want to be hidden in the depth of the Internet.  There are several methods that prevent web pages from being indexed by traditional search engines.

 Contextual Web: Pages with content varying for different access contexts.

•             Dynamic content: Dynamic pages which are returned in response to a submitted query or accessed only through a form, especially if open-domain input elements are used; such fields are hard to navigate without domain knowledge.

•             Limited access content: Sites that limit access to their pages in a technical way (e.g., using the Robots Exclusion Standard or CAPTCHAs, or no-store directive which prohibit search engines from browsing them and creating cached copies).

•             Non-HTML/text content: Textual content encoded in multimedia (image or video) files or specific file formats not handled by search engines.

•             Private Web: Sites that require registration and login (password-protected resources).

 The only way to access the dark web is by using a special browser like The Onion Router – Tor – and, often, a password.

Tor –  is a seething matrix of encrypted websites that allows users to surf beneath the everyday internet with complete anonymity.  It uses numerous layers of security and encryption to render users anonymous online.  Tor’s browser connects to what’s called the Tor network, which establishes an anonymous connection that protects against network surveillance and tracking. In addition to being able to access any website you can in a standard browser, you can also access Dark Web URLs that end in .onion.  The Tor network hides the IP address and the activity of the user.  Most of the Web’s information is buried far down on dynamically generated sites, unable to be found or seen by traditional search engines – sites or pages don’t exist until created as the result of a specific search. 

 It is important to note that the vast majority of Tor’s users are not necessarily accessing the dark web for illegal purposes. Some use it to browse the surface web anonymously.  Also, some users are dissidents or potentially spies that need to assure their safety when they communicate.  This is why the Federal government partially funds TOR.  The TOR project is funded in part by the US Department of State. It is used by citizens in totalitarian regimes to get information into and out of the country.

 Tor is made by the Tor Project, a nonprofit based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Since the “dark web” almost exclusively runs on Tor, this makes the service an integral part of a global network of illegal drug marketplaces, child sex abuse pornography communities, ISIS hangout spots and at least on crypto literary journal.  Interesting.