You may have seen the term "Dark Web" on a film and wondered if it really does exist - and if it does, why the authorities don't do something about it? You might be interested to hear that not only that it does exist, but that the authorities know all about the Dark Web, it was created by the US Government in the first place!
Originally, when the internet came along, it was spotted that if "people" (read: "Spies") reported in to their controllers, their communications could be tracked by people trying to find out who they were. So the Dark Web was set up with a series (unspecified in number) of interconnected referral systems (aka 'onion browsers') that would pass a communication on to another destination without it being clear from whence it had come or to where it was going. The intention was that no-one could track who was leaking the information in the first place.
What is in the Dark Web?
Unfortunately there are others in this world that also like to use that sort of anonymity - drugs cartels, guns on the black market, false documentation and certificates, assassins, recipes for poisons and bombs, assistance and management of your Malware and Ransomware activities, and a range of other illegal activities. These people adopted the Dark Web with enthusiasm and it has grown and grown.
How significant is the Dark Web?
So how big is the Dark Web? Well starting with the whole of the Web: about 1% is the normally accessed area, covered by the likes of Google and all areas authorised and accredited in one form or another.
Then there is the remaining 99% of the Web: most of this is the Deep Web. The Deep Web is an unindexed area where a wide range of organisations store their data and offer it only with authentic access. eg Netflix stores its movies there, Drop Box its files, Facebook its records and Office 365 its emails, etc, - all accessible only with the right authority.
Then there is the Dark Web - about 5% of the total. This is the area where it is not indexed (much) and no authentic access is required.
Risks inherent in the Dark Web
So can anyone go there - yes, if they wish to accept the risks. What risks? Well, if you wanted a gun, say, and found a guns for sale site, you will have a number of problems (and these hold true for many such possibilities).
Firstly, the site may have been set up by the authorities - who promptly (on receiving the address to which the gun should be sent) turn up to arrest you.
Secondly, if the site is a 'proper' criminal one, firstly the chances are you will not get access (or even find it) without being referred to it by someone with the "right" type of connections.
Thirdly, because the sites are run by criminals, there is a high chance that whatever you are after, you will have to pay first before delivery - but this does not mean that you will receive what you thought you were buying.
Key messages to anyone wanting to use the Dark Web:
- DON'T use your email or anything that can directly connect back to you.
- remember that despite the original intentions, the ability to track back to where queries come from is possible - so you will likely be found out eventually
- DON'T contact us if you get into difficulties - we don't want to know you at that time
You have been warned!