“What the internet appears to be is only 10% of what it actually is – welcome to the ‘dark web’!”
What is the ‘world wide web’?
The World Wide Web (www) is an information space where documents and other web resources are identified by URLs, interlinked by hypertext links, and can be accessed via the Internet. It allows documents to be connected to other documents by hypertext links. This enables the user to search for information by moving from one document to another.
How is the web divided?
The web is divided into:
It is also known as the ‘visible web’. This refers to that content on the web which can be found by search engines such as Google and Bling. It is under constant surveillance by the government.
Deep web is that portion of the web content that is not indexed by search engines. It is an anonymous internet beyond the open traffic of the regular internet. These websites do not figure in the extensive results of conventional search engines such as Yahoo or Google. It is also described as the “darknet” or the “underworld” of the cyber world.
It is impossible to measure or estimate the size of the deep web because majority of the information is hidden or locked inside databases. The deep web accounts for 96% of the entire World Wide Web. It is estimated to be 500 times of the surface web.
The Dark Web refers to any Web page that has been intentionally concealed to hide in plain sight or reside within a separate, but public layer of the standard Internet. Note that internet is built around web pages that have reference other web pages. If you have a destination web page which has no inbound links, you have concealed that page and it cannot be found by users or search engines. This is the ‘dark web’. It has been classified as a small portion of the Deep Web that has been intentionally hidden and is inaccessible through standard web browsers. The dark net is any part of the Internet that is inaccessible to search engines.
What is the deep web used for?
Due to its anonymity, the deep web has become the nesting ground of criminals. It is the hot selling marketplace for drugs, counterfeit currency, forged papers, human organs, fire arms, ammunitions and explosives. It is also actively used by mafias.
The deep web’s black market is a cornucopia of dark products, offering much more than stolen personal data and malicious software. Items traded here include sensitive trade secrets, stolen bank and credit card information, firearms, and controlled substances and narcotics which cannot be bought in an open market. Services offered include contract killing, drug peddling, and money laundering.
Anonymity offered by the deep web makes it even more harmful than the regular material black market.
The deep and dark web have come under great interest and scrutiny in recent months following the trial of Ross Ulbricht. He was charged and convicted of running one of the dark web’s largest and most popular underground marketplaces, dubbed Silk Road. It primarily sold illegal drugs.
However, it has a positive side too. Due to its security features, it is also used by whistleblowers, governments and military personnel.
How can you reach the dark web?
‘Grams’ is the Dark Web’s first distributed search engine.
‘TOR’ (The Onion Router) is one of the several software programs that provide a gateway to the Dark Web. TOR reroutes signals across 6,000 servers to hide a page request’s origin. This technology driving the deep web was developed initially by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory for confidential communications. The TOR encrypts and transmits user traffic through several different computers in multiple layers. This allows individual users to hide their internet protocol (IP) addresses—a numerical identifier assigned to a computer or device logged on the internet—and gives them the freedom to remain anonymous in any online activity.
Browsers such as Tor, Freenet, I2P and Tails enable a user to surf the net anonymously.
The governments are trying to push local laws to prevent this.
Sony – a victim:
In November 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. faced a massive cyber attack. The hacker used well-known malware readily available on the black market on the “dark web”. It destroyed thousands of computers and servers. The attackers stole the company’s business secrets, unreleased movies, unfinished scripts and personal records, and effectively destroyed more than 3,000 of Sony Pictures’ computers and 800 of its servers. The malware in question over-wrote the master boot record of the affected systems, which rendered them inoperable.
Does it exist in India?
IT professionals in India estimate that the deep web now accounts for approximately 70% of online traffic.
According to the Oxford Internet Institute, the Tor browser is estimated to have between 5,00,000 to 1 million daily users from India. The development of this trend in India is still nascent compared with the USA or European countries such as Germany, which constitute 18.74% and 10.09%, respectively, of the mean daily Tor browser users.
The Deep Web is one of the biggest threats to Indian businesses. Indian businesses need to re-visit their strategies to deal with cyber crimes. Such crimes have increased by 40% annually during the past three years. Businesses frequently do assess the risks posed by cyber crimes. However, they focus on threats from the regular World Wide Web. Now, they must also pay attention to the threats emanating from the black market on the “deep web” or the “hidden” internet.
The annual cost of cyber crimes to the global economy is between USD 113-575 billion. India incurs a fraction of this cost—around USD 4 billion—but it is a lot for a developing, unprepared country.
With great power comes greater responsibility. It is on every person to decide on which side of the web he wants to be.
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