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Understanding the dark web

Posted by Kirk Studebaker // VP of Sales | Oct 8, 2019 1:00:00 PM

Most people have heard of the dark web as it is typically mentioned in crime movies and tv shows. The connotation is often with illegal activities, a place where you can obtain drugs and weapons but there is more to the dark web than we are often led to believe.

The dark web serves as an added layer of protection for those who wish to keep their data and user information safe, but the street goes both ways. It is important to remember that there is shady business going on in the dark web that should be avoided. If someone takes a further look into it, we recommend doing so with the utmost care to ensure that they do not wind up in any illegal activities

What is it, and what do we need it for?

First, we need to understand that the internet is more complicated than most people think. It’s not all Google searches and cat videos. Often compared to an iceberg, multiple layers make up the World Wide Web. For us to understand the dark web, we need to understand the two layers that come before it.

Surface Web

This is the part of the internet most of us use on a day-to-day basis. Regular search engines such as Google and Yahoo can be used to access websites and information. Anyone with an internet connection can access this part of the internet, which makes up an estimated 10% of the World Wide Web. Access to the surface web is gained through web crawlers that allow you to go to different websites, many public websites and search engines use them to have up-to-date data.

Deep Web

If we go a step further, then we have the deep web. Within the deep web, websites cannot be found via normal channels and regular search engines. The websites are hidden and harder to find as they are not indexed. Much like the surface web, the deep web is accessible through a direct URL or IP address; however, they often need passwords to get past the public website. 

Many people believe that their information is held privately when, in fact, the data is being held on the deep web. Access to your data, via alternative channels, creates a breach in your security. 

Understanding the Dark Web

At the lowest and most hidden part of the metaphorical iceberg, we have the dark web. This refers to any self-contained, encrypted overlay networks that can only be accessed with special software such as TOR (The Onion Router) Network. The information on this network is inaccessible without special tools. Through the use of the TOR software, users can access private websites that have been specifically encrypted as well as anything on the surface web, while maintaining anonymity.

Due to the public nature of the internet, hackers can often get easy access to your personal data. It is not uncommon to see private data such as credit card information being sold on the dark web. By ensuring your data stays off the surface web, your data can be more secure from theft.

It is the level of anonymity that using the dark web gives users, that draws users in. Initially created for the government for data protection, it was eventually made accessible to the general public. As we mentioned previously, the surface web only makes up a small percentage of what is available on the World Wide Web, making the dark web an estimated 400 to 500 times larger. 

Websites on the dark web are not indexed, and their locations cannot be pinpointed, giving users total anonymity as a persons’ location and user information is not available. Similar to a VPN service, when a user is on the dark web, their actual location is not traceable but rather, their IP address is bounced from various locations across the world to ensure that no one can track them. Additionally, no user data is traceable, which keeps your identity secure.  

The dark web is often used in countries where the internet and its people are censored. This allows communication outside of the country that easily bypasses any surveillance.  

Since the dark web allows users to remain untraceable and anonymous, this also leads to a lot of illegal activities to be carried out. Law enforcement often tracks what is happening on the dark web to try and find criminals and stop illicit activities. Additionally, journalists often search on the dark web for leads and sources.

However, due to the nature of the dark web, it is very unpredictable and constantly changing. 

Given the illegal activities, scamming, and the protection of data, users are often changing their IP addresses and sites. Websites on the dark web have different formatting, URL’s tend to end in “.onion” rather than “.com,” and the URL itself is usually not easy to remember to ensure that they are untraceable, for example, “eajwlvm3z2lcca76.onion.”

Of course, with the freedom and anonymity that the dark web provides, this also comes with the risk that the information available might not be 100% accurate. To try and mitigate this, the dark web allows users and sellers to grow a reputation. People can rate each other, and this helps make sure the person is reliable and gives users a sense of security.  

As a whole, the dark web serves users and government officials a layer of anonymity that allows them to both access and search on the World Wide Web, that is otherwise hidden from the general public.

 Why choose Coordinated Business Systems?

With over 30 years of experience, we’ve helped 1,000’s of organizations improve their productivity and efficiency with our office technology solutions. Our ‘Customers First Always’ approach means we’re proactive and always seeking the most effective solution. We frequently check in with customers to ensure that they’re happy with their new system. Our priority is that companies find a cost-effective solution that allows them to function at their most productive and efficient.

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Topics: Document Management, Security

Written by Kirk Studebaker // VP of Sales

Kirk has been in the Office Technology sector for 20 years working in the dealer world focused on supporting sales teams. Having worked for Manufacturers and dealers as well as his own entrepreneurial ventures, Kirk is dedicated to the development of people in the sales profession.

Outside of work Kirk has a wife and two children and enjoys being outside whether hunting or horseback riding.