Deep Web or DarkNet
What is Deep Web?
Over the centuries, when the technology became advanced, humans built machines capable of diving to the depths of the oceans. That’s how we were able to discover the remains of RMS Titanic. The search engine crawlers do the same work as done by the explorer submarines. They dive into the internet and take a note of whatever they find.
We might have found Titanic, but there is a lot to discover in the bottomless oceans. Similar is the case of the search engine crawlers, they haven’t identified various parts of the World Wide Web, and we call it the Deep Web.
For instance, the search engines won’t be able to access the servers and websites hosting data about some government-led secret alien mission. But the deep web isn’t as mysterious as it sounds. A private network, tagged as deep web, can be right next to your house. It’s just the internet that isn’t within reach of standard search engine crawlers. For instance, the network maintained by some paid streaming service. It is a type of deep web or hidden web. Obviously, the search engines won’t be opting for a monthly subscription to index the catalog of such websites.
What is Darknet?
Contrary to deep web, Darknet is better known to the people. It is an encrypted network built on top of the existing internet, and specific software or tools are required to access the darknet. It is possible, conventional protocols used on the internet might not work on the darknet.
Darknet provides anonymity to the users. One such darknet is Tor or The Onion Router. You require the Tor browser to enter into the Tor’s network.
Tor can be used to visit everyday internet websites, but it also has numerous hidden websites and services which we can’t be accessed on the regular internet. Tor powers them using its protocol known as Tor Hidden Service Protocol. And the websites limited to the Tor network have a special .onion address. Due to this, Tor’s darknet is also known as onionland.
Friend-to-Friend (F2F) networks are another kind of darknet. In this case, two familiar people communicate with each other directly over the internet. They might want to share some file over a P2P connection. Such networks, not accessible by other people, can be encrypted or password protected. So, only the concerned people have the access.
Increasing the confusion…..
What Is Dark Web
There is another thing you would like to be aware of, the dark web. You can think of the dark web as a subset of the deep web. You need to understand the distinction between deep web and darknet, and the fact that the internet and WWW (World Wide Web) aren’t the same things.
The darknet is a network, and the deep web constitutes the chunk of the World Wide Web that is beyond the reach of the search engines. So, we can decipher dark web as the World Wide Web of the darknets like Tor, Freenet, etc. That is, the services and websites running on the darknet is the dark web.
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An Introduction to TOR and Using it to Access the Deep Web
TOR is an acronym which stands for ‘The Onion Router’. It got that name because of the many layers you would have to peel back to find the real identity of any of its users.
Tor is primarily a ‘privacy network’ which lets people use the regular internet without being tracked. It does this by bouncing communications around a lot of different computers, so rather than user A asking for a webpage from server Z, user A asks user B to ask user C to request the webpage (of course this is a massive simplification and is pretty inaccurate really, but it does give you are rough idea of what is happening). This means that any third party who is trying to spy on people will find it very difficult to tell who is actually viewing the webpage, or sending the email, or whatever it may be.
In addition to this enhanced privacy for web browsers, TOR also offers a way for people to host ‘hidden services’. A TOR hidden service is a website or app of some kind whose location is hidden in exactly the same way that the true location or identity of web browsers is hidden by TOR in the example above. These hidden services can only be accessed by other TOR users – not by regular search engines or regular internet users. You can recognize them by their address – it will end in .onion and is often composed of a seemingly random string of characters. Once you have TOR installed on your computer you can visit these hidden services, which include the infamous dark markets where bitcoin, drugs and hacked credit card details are ubiquitous, in exactly the same way that you would access a regular website.
Installing TOR on your computer is incredibly simple. It is no different from installing any other piece of software. It is also very easy to use – when you open TOR you will see that it is just a web browser which you use exactly the same way as you would any other web browser. In fact, it is based on Firefox so if you have ever used that browser you will find it to be very familiar indeed. For those in need of more rigorous privacy and security there is also a TOR operating system called TAILS (The Amnesiac Incogneto Live System) which you can run from a USB stick, but for most people the browser is sufficient.