There’s so much stuff on the internet, and most of it you don’t even know about. Moral or immoral, ethical or unethical, good or bad—we can choose what we want to see. Much like the surface web we use every single day, there is another hidden portion of the internet also known as the “dark web” or “deep web.”
According to some estimates, the surface web, or the web that we use, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of data that is available on the surface web as compared to the dark web. Much like the surface web, the dark web also has websites, forums, and services that we can use, but it’s hidden under a layer of protection. Under the surface lies a nest of hidden activities that are blocked off from the rest of the world. The Dark Web is the nexus of all illegal activity. It’s a place for criminals, spying predators, drug dealers, and even human traffickers, and it’s all hidden under layers of encryption.
We can divide the internet into three categories:First is the Surface Web; this is everything we use on a daily basis. YouTube, Twitter, or any social media—they’re all part of what we call the “world wide web.” It’s relatively easy to find anything on the surface web, as almost everything is indexed by search engines like Google. A simple Google search can reveal anything about a famous person, from their date of birth to their home address or even information about their family.
But what we cannot find out are their bank details or the password to their Instagram account. These things are hidden on password-protected websites where only they can access them. This is where we venture into the “deep web,” which is the web that contains all the content present on the internet that is not indexed by the search engines. If you cannot find it on Google, then it is present on the deep web. If you have ever logged into your e-mail, then you have technically browsed the deep web. The deep web is pretty much the same as the surface web but with a bit more secrecy. The deep web contains about 96% of all the things present on the internet.
But even further down in the deep web is the part of the web where things don’t leave: websites that are encrypted to hide their existence, sites that don’t have any IP addresses to make them unrecognisable, and sites that are accessed by users using encrypted software to completely mask their identities.Here, anything and everything goes. We have reached the dark web. But how does it work? How can you hide from the rest of the world, to which everyone has access? If you are browsing the surface web, then chances are that you are being watched by some or other company, like the website you have opened, which knows your IP address, location, and battery percentage without even asking your permission. Most social media sites track what you do and sell it to companies that advertise to you based on that information. But many people think that this is a breach of their privacy.
The US government thought that too, as all the security-related details were sent via the internet, which could have been intercepted by anyone. So in the mid-1990s, researchers from the USA began working on something called “onion routing,” which saves any data sent in multiple layers of encryption, making it extremely tough to breach. Because of onion routing, darknets like Tor can exist. Tor means the Onion Router. It contains no websites with.com or.net extensions, but it does contain “onion” websites that are encrypted and hidden from the general public. These websites contain all the services deemed illegal by the law, and to access those services, you need to pay using bitcoins due to their anonymous and untraceable nature.
The Dark web does not only contain illegal service data; it also contains all data available on the internet. This also includes confidential government data related to national security, and for these two reasons (illegality and confidential information protection), many governments, like the Indian government, do not allow their citizens to access the dark web.