The Darknet

The Darknet

About the Darknet

A hidden Internet exists underneath the 'surface web,' hidden from the view of ordinary web users. It always aroused my curiosity, but I never really followed up to see whether I could access it. The dark web is intimidating. I assumed it was full of criminals and would have little to offer a law-abiding citizen such as myself. I also thought it would be difficult to access and that it would require some kind of advanced technical skill, or perhaps a special invitation from a shadowy figure on seedy bulletin boards. I decided to investigate these assumptions.

One of the things that really struck me was how easy it is to access and start exploring the darknet—it requires no technical skills, no special invitation, and takes just a few minutes to get started.

Most people are confused about what exactly the darknet is. Firstly, it is sometimes confused with the deep web, a term that refers to all parts of the Internet which cannot be indexed by search engines and so can't be found through Google, Bing, Yahoo, and so forth. Experts believe that the deep web is hundreds of times larger than the surface web (i.e., the Internet you get to via browsers and search engines).

In fact, most of the deep web contains nothing sinister whatsoever. It includes large databases, libraries, and members-only websites that are not available to the general public. Mostly, it is composed of academic resources maintained by universities. If you've ever used the computer catalog at a public library, you've scratched its surface. It uses alternative search engines for access though. Being unindexed, it cannot be comprehensively searched in its entirety, and many deep web index projects fail and disappear. Some of its search engines include Ahmia.fi, Deep Web Technologies, TorSearch, and Freenet.

The dark web (or dark net) is a small part of the deep web. Its contents are not accessible through search engines, but it's something more: it is the anonymous Internet. Within the dark net, both web surfers and website publishers are entirely anonymous. Whilst large government agencies are theoretically able to track some people within this anonymous space, it is very difficult, requires a huge amount of resources, and isn't always successful.