Many people associate the Darknet with Silk Road, the online market place where you could purchase any number of illegal drugs. One of the most well-known illicit sites on the dark web is Silk Road, an online commerce site selling counterfeit identification documents, heroin, and other illicit materials, which became a flourishing, albeit illicit, business following the Silk Roads foundation in 2011. The sites operator, using the alias Dread Pirate Roberts, became something of a dark-web folk hero, offering online surfers a way to anonymously purchase illegal goods using Bitcoin.
In addition to criminal activities like money laundering, or visiting darknet markets to purchase illicit goods, the deep web is used for an array of entirely legitimate purposes. Of course, the extreme anonymity online allows criminal activity to thrive, and dark web is used to purchase things such as illegal drugs or stolen credit cards, or to access illicit, illegitimate content, such as child pornography. For purposes of this article, use of the dark web has been generally associated with illicit, illegal activities, like accessing illegal drugs, prohibited firearms, and lewd images, including child pornography and extreme pornography. Although use of the dark web is legal in most countries, illegal activities regularly occurring on the dark web, as well as the illicit content found on it, makes the dark web a seedy place.
The so-called Darknet may be used by individuals who want to conduct illegal activities on the internet, such as selling weapons or drugs. As mentioned, there are plenty of other reasons for using the Dark Web than engaging in illicit activities, and with the growing concerns about privacy in our high-digital, Orwellian world, an increasing number of people may be seeking the anonymity provided by the Dark Web. People looking to blow the whistle on companies or governments for illegal actions can use the Dark Web in order to attempt anonymity. Many dark websites are created by scammers, and they move around constantly in order to escape their victims scammers wrath.
In a bid to curb drug trafficking and other crimes, governments worldwide are dedicating increasing resources to tracking down those behind illicit Dark Web sites and closing them. In fact, researchers Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid at Kings College London found that most dark websites are used for criminal activities, mostly drugs, money laundering, and the exchange of stolen credentials. Not every site on the dark web is used for illicit purposes, but the anonymity it can afford has made it overrun by cybercriminals, and the personal data marketplaces definitely account for a significant proportion of this mysterious portion of the Internet. Governments and law enforcement agencies may still be able to go after illicit services, such as Silk Road, but plenty of people use the dark web for perfectly legitimate reasons, and may be affected if the dark web is no longer available.
The Tor Project says of the 2 million people who use the Tor network each day, only 1.5% are logging into hidden, or dark, websites. Some simply choose not to share anything on the internet, and use Tor to access regular websites outside of the dark web, or check news and forum sites inside the dark web. In general, most regular Internet users never have any need to access Dark Web content, though using Tor is completely legitimate.
The anonymizing Tor browser allows you access to the entire internet, whether the websites are regulated or not. The anonymized browser, called Tor, routes your requests for webpages through a set of proxy servers operated by thousands of volunteers across the globe, rendering your IP address unidentifiable and untraceable. While the dedicated browser called Tor gives you access to sites in the Tor ecosystem, you can also use Tor for browsing the surface web, taking advantage of its encryption to enjoy added security and privacy.
For instance, neither of these is accessible through a regular search engine such as Google; however, the Deep Web refers to any webpage not identifiable by a search engine, and the Deep Web refers to websites accessible only through a special browser called Tor. You can access the same sites that you would access in the surface web using the Tor Browser, but you are likely to encounter two problems. The surface web refers to content published openly on the Internet, which does not need paywalls or registration to access, and is indexed by search engines.
Most Internet users view online content using the surface web, the part of the Internet that is indexed by popular search engines and is easy to browse with a typical web browser. This is the publicly visible portion of the internet most of us use every day, accessed via search engines like Google or Bing. The internet is used for streaming, shopping online, playing games, and working, but there is another space on the web that could be used for more illegal activities. The dark web refers to internet data specific to one specific niche, which users wish to keep private for one reason or another.
Using a specific browser known as The Onion Router (TOR), users are able to browse through these hidden sites and conduct legal and illegal activities all behind the facade of a non-identifying IP address. Tor is not the only way to access hidden services on the Darknet, but it is definitely the easiest and best. A study from Kings College London, The Darkness Online, found about 300,000 addresses inside of a dedicated browser called Tor, comprising about 205,000 webpages.
If you can stomach the performance and access issues of using Tor, as well as the insecurity of the Darknet, combined with an occasional jolt, it is perfectly acceptable to indulge your curiosity and access the Darknet.