What is the Dark Web? {Surface Web, Deep Web}

What is the Dark Web?
  • Darknet is a network of computers on the internet that are:
    • Not accessible through the normal search engines
    • Provide anonymity to the source of web-content.
  • To access content of the darknet, we need special software to get into this network of computers.
  • In simple words, web content on darknet is intentionally hidden to provide anonymity to service provider.
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Understanding Internet

The total web content on the internet is broadly classified into three broad categories:

  • Surface Web
  • Deep Web
  • Dark Web

Surface Web

  • Usual search engines such as Google, Yahoo & Bing etc. can ‘look for’ and extract content and present it in the form of a website/webpage.
  • For this, webpages are ‘indexed’ by search engine.
  • Only about 10-15% of web content is present on surface web accessible by common searches.

Deep Web

  • It is a term used for all those content or webpages that are there on the internet but are not indexed by search engines and therefore not discernible by conventional search engines.
  • Thus, webpages on deep web do not show up in conventional search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing etc.
  • About 75-80% of the web content/webpages are on the deep web.
  • Common examples of web content on deep web include financial data, back account details, emails, personal data etc. that are password protected and only way to access these webpages is through login.

Dark Net/Dark Web

  • It is a part of the deep web that is intentionally hidden to provide anonymity.
  • Key features:
    • No webpage indexing by surface web search engines.
    • Virtual traffic tunnels via randomized network infrastructure.
    • Inaccessible by traditional browsers due to its unique registry operator.
    • Further hidden by various network security measures like firewalls and encryption.
  • To do this, Dark Net uses a specialized network of computers called relays through which the information passes. Commonly, information on Dark Net passes through at least 3 relay computers between the source and destination.
  • In addition, dark net uses network technology that hides the locations of these relay computers (IP address) to ensure anonymity of the users.
  • Dark net can be accessed through TOR Browser (Anonymity Network).
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Features of Dark Net

  • While webpages on Darknet are hidden from a search engine, they can be accessed and downloaded by anyone who has the exact IP address of the webpage.
  • Dark net does not provide any protection against malware, virus attack etc.
  • Since data is routed through many relay computers between source and destination, communication and downloading of webpages on the dark net is slow.
  • Used for both legitimate and illegitimate activities.

Legitimate activities of Dark Net

  • Using Dark Net is per say is not illegal.
  • By virtue of its ability to provide anonymity, dark net is used by human right activists, free internet activists, media personnel etc. in countries where there are severe restrictions, censorship on internet usage like that in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc.
  • Also used by whistleblowers to maintain anonymity. Ex Edward Snowden.
  • In the aftermath of glaring revelations on surveillance by USA’s security agency NSA, number of users of the dark net has increased, as users are seeking privacy.

Illegitimate activities of Dark Net

  • Increasingly, Dark net has turned into a platform for various nefarious activities including illegal weapon sales, drug trafficking, child pornography, data theft, data leaks, cyber terrorism, hacking, organized crimes, money laundering etc.
  • As the location of users on Dark net is hidden due to hidden IP address, it is not possible to trace the location of the users of Dark Web.
  • Instances:
    • Silk Road is a dark net website used for purchasing drugs online.
    • Data of about 100 GB including Aadhar Cards, passports, PAN Cards etc. were leaked on dark net.

Threats of Dark Web

  • Malicious software
  • Government monitoring
  • Scams
  • Identity theft monitoring
  • Illegal sales of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Drug trafficking
  • Bitcoin laundering
  • Drug trafficking.

Content Delivery Network

  • It is a system of distributed group of servers and networks that deliver pages and other web content to a user, based on geographic location of the user, the origin of the webpage, and the content delivery server.
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  • CDN stores a cached version of its content in multiple geographic locations (points of presence or PoPs) which enables faster delivery of internet content.
  • CDNs have emerged as overlay networks on the internet to provide better support for delivering commercial content than was available using basic, best effort internet packet transport services.
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