The Internet can be a truly amazing place, a great resource that allows large numbers of people to connect with one another. Lurking beyond the surface is a potentially seedier, lesser known part of the Internet that most users will never actually venture to while on a phone, tablet, or PC.
The dark web is a term that continues to grow in popularity, but there is still a lot of confusion and intrigue about it. Taking into consideration how the dark web is only expanding, it’s not a bad idea to try to learn a bit more about it.
5 Basics to Know About the Dark Web
The majority of people using the Internet are perfectly happy with browsing the surface web, the part of the Internet is that is indexed and easily browsable through a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Accessing the dark web through something like the TOR browser opens up a whole new part of the Internet, which isn’t indexed or promoted through traditional search engines.
Ironically enough, it was the US government itself that originally created the dark web, trying to create a secure network for its spies to communicate securely with one another. And once it was released to the public, it has evolved into a much larger network that intelligence agencies are trying to regain control of yet again.
The demise of Ross Ulbricht’s Silk Road dark web enterprise, a haven for hacker tools, narcotics, and other illegal activities, helped get the dark web mainstream attention. However, there was still very little known about the dark web, what it meant, and how it even could be accessed. A major misconception remains that the dark web is only for buying and selling drugs or other illicit goods, but that isn’t true at all.
Rather, the launch of the successful Silk Road – and its later demise – and multiple illicit marketplaces has drawn the spotlight in promoting the dark web. There are plenty of legitimate uses that shouldn’t be overlooked – or ostracized just because of the illegal behavior. To be able to communicate securely without any outside interference, to share or consume data with no restrictions, and similar behaviors are fully condoned on the dark web.
Due to the higher levels of anonymity on the dark web, it’s relatively difficult to ascertain who is there, or even why. It looks like English is the top language of dark web domains, with its 62 percent market share greatly ahead of Russian (6.60%), French (5.47%), Catalan (4.46%), and German (2.72%), according to research from cybersecurity firm Trend Micro.
It’s not just criminals turning to the dark web to communicate, however. Internet users searching for privacy, residents living in nations under rule of oppressive regimes, and others tend to turn to the dark web for anonymous Internet browsing. Because of the enhanced privacy protocols, it’s not uncommon for overly cautious Internet users to choose the dark web simply because they don’t want to be tracked by their ISP or any prying companies or governments.
Cybersecurity researchers trying to find methods to crack the dark web’s complicated mysteries is no easy task. Once a major data breach occurs, companies can scour the dark web to help identify what data was taken, and how much of it has been compromised.
A dark web API is designed to crawl the dark web based on a query, collect information, then present the data in an easy-to-digest format. This lets users receive a real-world look at non-public information (NPI) or personal identification information (PII) that has been compromised from a data breach, and which might be floating around on the dark web.
Besides crawling the dark web for already breached information, a dark web API might be used by governments or intelligence agencies to help try to predict future cyberattacks.
Who knows? Although we could make some educated guesses, no one entirely knows for sure. What we do know, however, is that the dark web is not going to suddenly vanish. Instead, it’s up to Internet users to determine if they want to browse the dark web at all, and if they do, why they want to access it. It’s not illegal to access the dark web, but take necessary precautions to ensure proper safety is taken into account.
During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it looks like there has been an uptick in dark web usage, according to cybersecurity researchers. It’s unknown why this is, but could be a mix of some people just being bored, while other people are choosing to illegal activities as the global economy continues to struggle. The upward trend in usage will probably only continue to increase in the future, as reliable access to the Internet becomes even more widespread.