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January 4, 2024

What is the Dark Web? Revealing the Secrets of the Dark Web!

Revealing The Secrets Of The Dark Web

We found people curious to know about the Dark Web. Like, what is Dark Web? What is there on the dark web? Why don’t people suggest browsing the Dark Web? Is the Dark web good? There are tons of questions that people always try to explore. We thought it would be better to reveal the secrets of the Dark Web on this forum.

How the Internet Is Divided?

If you think Google knows everything, then you don’t know anything. There is a lot beyond google on the internet. You will be surprised If we tell you the data you see on the internet is not even 5% of the internet. Yes, it’s true. The data you see on the internet is only 5% of the internet. So, where is the rest of the 95%? The rest 95% is hidden in the Deep Web or Dark Web. That is out of your reach. The whole internet is divided into four major classes: the surface web, deep web, dark web, and Mariana web.

Pie chart showing major classes of the internet

  1. The Surface Web: The surface web is the web that is open to the general public. The information available on search engines are on the surface web. It is searchable and accessible by anyone using any standard browser without any special configuration. It covers only 4% of the internet.

  2. The Deep Web: Standard search engines do not index this part of the internet. You can’t search or access the information on the deep web. Users must need a login or some sort of authentication to access the information. As most of the information doesn’t use a standard domain like .com, .in, .org, .net, and .edu. search engines don’t index them. Users may need to access the complete URL or IP address of the site without any special tools or configurations. Deep Web is legal, and there are no restrictions to access. Some common examples of the deep web are web emails, online banking, company login portals, and content in the database — private data on the cloud storage. The deep web has the largest share in the space of the internet. It covers almost 93% of the internet.

  3. The Dark Web: This is a subset of the deep web. This portion of the internet can’t be accessed easily. It needs specialized software or tools to access the sites on the dark web. On top of that, You can access the dark web sites only if the access link has been shared by someone who knows it on the dark web. There is software(s) available to access the dark webTor is the most common among all. Tor is a browser-like application that works on tor networks, the most anonymous network in the world. Because of its anonymity, this network is being used mostly for illegal, illicit, and criminal activities. As the dark websites run only on the tor network, they are suffixed with .onion. Ex: domain.onion.

  4. The Mariana web: This is the darkest corner of the internet. Yes, it is darker than the dark web. In the dark web, it is enough if you have the whole Tor set up to access the web address. But, in the case of the Mariana web, you should definitely need those two things to access, but you should also need an access key (a cryptographic key) to access the site. That’s why it is called Mariana web. It inherits the name from a place known as Mariana Trench, the deepest point of the ocean located in the Pacific ocean. Both dark and Mariana web share around 2% of the internet.

What Is the Dark Web?

Well, the dark web means that underneath the internet, there are some encrypted websites that can only be accessed using a specialized set of tools and networks. The dark web is a collection of websites hidden in the showing corner of the internet running on a secure anonymized network called the Tor network. As these websites were running on the tor network and suffixed with .onion, these can’t be indexed or searched by standard search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

History of Dark Web.

The history of the dark web lies with the history of the Tor network because Tor is the central backbone of the dark web. Most of you will be surprised to know that the Tor was first developed in the United States Naval Research Laboratory. A group of computer programmers and mathematicians created the concept in early 1990. They wanted to develop the tor network to provide a safe communication channel for the US government and military. At first the United States Naval Research Laboratory released its first version under a free license in 2004 and launched it on the public network.

After this initial development, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) started funding the project in 2004. Later, a non-profit Tor Foundation was born and managed to receive financial support from large organizations, technology companies, government agencies, and other non-profit organizations.

How to Access Dark Web?

Tor browser is the primary application used to connect the tor network. Tor browser is a simple application available for download from the tor project website for all major operating systems like Windows, Linux, Apple, and Android. We will cover the downloading and installation part in another post, but now we will show you how easy to connect to the Tor network using the tor browser.

Fire up the Tor browser on your PC. Initially, you will see the Tor browser is connecting to the tor network and setting up a unique path selecting random nodes through the tor network for your communication.

Status of updating the Tor Browser

Tor browser establishes the connection with the tor network

After Tor sets up a circuit, it just opens like any other web browser. In fact, this is the customized version of Firefox modified to work with the tor network. By default, the Tor browser uses the DuckDuckGo search engine. And it has an address bar like a normal browser which can be used to navigate the web.

Tor browser image with the default search engine

By default, the Tor browser uses the DuckDuckGo search engine. And it has an address bar like a normal browser which can be used to navigate the web.

Tor browsers as regular browsers

When you access the web from the Tor browser, those websites never get your real IP address.

Side-by-side comparison of the tor browser with the regular browser

If you want to surf the .onion sites, you can type it in the address bar of the Tor browser as shown here:

We are accessing the onion version of the DuckDuckGo search engine in the tor browser for demonstration purposes.

Demo showing onion version on DuckDuckGo search engine

Tech Behind the Dark Web.

After all, the dark web is also like a normal web running on the internet; it also needs a hosting server, either physical or cloud, to run web servers and other associated services like database services and file services, which are required to run any other websites. The server also requires no special operating systems. It just runs the normal operating system that is being used in daily life. It also accepts web requests and sends responses to the user with the web content like any other web server. The dark web works as same as a business web, but with only one difference. At the place of the internet, it has the tor network.

A basic connection with a request and response over the internet

On the internet, when a user sends a request to the web server, The web server takes notes of the user’s IP address, local time, Geolocation, and other identity information. Similarly, The user’s browser logs some content of the server’s information. But, in the case of a tor network, the direct connection between the user and the webserver will be replaced by a mesh of an encrypted network. This allows both user and the webserver to hide their real identities from each other. This anonymity brings the actual difference between a surface and a dark web.

Connection with a request and response over the tor network with mesh encryption

Tor network achieves this anonymity by using a technique known as Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). PFS uses encryption to hide the details of communication from the other participant nodes in the circuit. It ensures that each node knows only the identity of its immediate pear node.

Who Uses the Dark Web?

Anonymous property on the dark web attracts a wide range of users.

  1. Criminals: Anonymity nature provides a safe home for all kinds of criminals to carry out their illegal, illicit, and criminal work.

  2. Secret agencies: A lot of government and private secret agencies like countries, hackers group, spying organizations, military, and national security agencies use the dark web to exchange information without revealing their real identities. The dark web provides a safe environment to keep the data online and share it with other secret agencies.

  3. News and media services: Many news companies run their websites on the dark web to exchange information with others anonymously.

  4. Who wants to bypass the government firewalls: There are thousands of websites that have geo-restrictions. Many people use the dark web as an alternative service to the VPN to access the blocked content or website from their geo-location because it is highly impossible for governments to track the users on the dark web.

  5. Dissident group: Dissident groups use the dark web to securely communicate with their other group members. Because the dark web provides them with the freedom to speak political and sensitive information freely without any fear of catching.

  6. People need anonymity: At last, many people who need anonymity use the dark web for personal reasons.

The metrics of the Tor project are being tracked here:

Is It Legal to Access the Dark Web?

The answer is quite clear. Yes, it is legal to access the dark web until you do not violate the internet policies and not be involved in any illicit or criminal activities. In fact, many countries don’t have strictly defined policies to access the dark web. But, we recommend not using the dark web for various security reasons.

Can We Host Our Own Site On The Dark Web?

As we said earlier in the article, technically, there is no difference between the .onion sites and the regular .com sites. Onion sites will also run on the same platform as any other web servers. If everything is the same under the line, then why can’t you host a site on the dark web? Yes, hosting your own site on the dark web is possible. There are multiple ways to do this. We will show this process in a separate post.

Our Verdict on Using the Dark Web.

There are multiple reasons we recommend not using the dark web:

  1. As in the dark web, a lot of criminal and illicit activities have been taking place, and it is a wise man’s decision to stay away from the dark web.

  2. The dark web is heaven for malware propagation as it is difficult to trace. There may be a high risk of malware infection if you use the dark web.

  3. There are a lot of extremely disturbing activities like illegal drugs sales, weapon sales, human trafficking, child abuse, child pornography, extreme pornographic content, human organs sales, live murder, live tortures, live red rooms, and all kinds of psychic crazy, cruel activities which are difficult to digest for a normal person. So we request not to visit the dark web. Or you may find yourselves in big trouble one day.

We always suggest not to use the dark web until you have a genuine reason. If you want to use it, please use it with all safety precautions.

Thanks for reading the article. Please find more articles like this here:

Arun KL

Arun KL is a cybersecurity professional with 15+ years of experience in IT infrastructure, cloud security, vulnerability management, Penetration Testing, security operations, and incident response. He is adept at designing and implementing robust security solutions to safeguard systems and data. Arun holds multiple industry certifications including CCNA, CCNA Security, RHCE, CEH, and AWS Security.

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