Average John-Mary may access search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing, while also shopping at Amazon or Alibaba. Total number of websites for these regular visits could be somewhere within the range from 10 to 50.
However, the size of World Wide Web is immensely spread over the internet, with more than 1.7Bln websites accessible from search engines (a.k.a. Surface Web).
It’s no secret that these websites are only the tip of the iceberg, sitting on more than 10x the larger network such as the Darknet, or the Deep Web.
What’s the Deep Web?
The choice of word brings out the mysterious side of this network, but only part of it is actually dubious.
Search engines have programs called ‘Crawlers’ patrolling and collecting information through the web, but sites out of this reach are categorized in the Deep Web.
Organizations such as the government, schools, and corporates contain all non-public information locked behind the log-in & password. These are all in the Deep Web.
Shady Internet, the Darknet and the Dark Web
Emails, file upload & transfers, IP phone, TV, and web-surfing, the internet and has now become irreplaceable infrastructure of our daily lives for more than 20 years.
However, as the R&D of nuclear technology not only advanced the energy or healthcare industry but also lead to the Manhattan Project, the internet innovation also has its down-side… in the Darknet and the Darkweb.
The Darknet is a network which is purposefully hidden from the public, for anonymous communications, using specific softwares & configurations. The web operating in Darknet is called the Dark Web.
Softwares Tor(The Onion Router), I2P(The Invisible Internet Project), Freenet, etc. provide protocol for encrypted communications and data transfers. It’s widely used by anti-social forces(individuals) and/or terrorists for communication, but also for illicit exchange of illegal drugs, counterfeit & stolen goods, child pornography, and arms.
The most widely used Darknet software Tor was developed in the mid-1990s by U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, to provide anonymity while using the internet. IP information is encrypted, and bounces around servers globally before reaching the recipient.
Black Market / The Dark Web
By securing the anonymity using Tor, access and/or usage of Black Market softwares on The Dark Web such as “Silk Road” is possible. Against all wish, the internet innovation has brought the magic power of being online to various criminal activities.
Silk Road was active since 2011, until the FBI arrested Ross Ulbricht (later sentenced to life in prison) in 2013. Black market service was handed over to Silk Road 2.0, Project Black Flag, then Black Flag Reloaded… the cat and mouse games is continuing.
Recent updates shall be that, Agora shut down in Aug’15, Alpha Bay Market was shut down in 2017 with the joint investigation by U.S., Canada, and Thailand. It was just 3 month ago (in Apr) this year that Dream Market also shut itself.
Law enforcement around the world are now actively engaged in joint-investigations, sometimes taking advantage by using these sites.