Do you believe that search engines such as Yahoo or Google let you access the entire world wide web? If so, you could not be more mistaken. The fact is that in your typical daily internet activity, you are barely scratching the surface of the web. Hidden below the web’s surface layer—the one you’re accessing right now—lie other layers of the internet that you can’t find through a normal search.
Basically, there are three parts to the world wide web: the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web. The surface web is everything that’s publicly available and accessible through a normal search or by typing a URL into a browser. The deep web (also known as the invisible web) is all the content on the internet that is not indexed by standard search engines. A couple
of examples would be online banking sites or webmail. Some of the pages on the deep web can still be accessed if you know the URL, while others require you to have user credentials to log in. Interestingly, the deep web is estimated by experts to be 500 times larger than the surface web.
Then we have the dark web, also called the “dark net”. The dark web is a completely different animal in that it is only a tiny fraction of the overall web and is only accessible through specialized software such as the Tor browser. The main characteristic of the dark web is its anonymity, which makes it appealing to many folks. The dark web is used to
conduct questionable and even illegal activities such as child pornography, illicit drugs, firearm sales and many others. Believe it or not, there is even a crowdfunded site where you can pay to have someone assassinated.
Also, journalists and activists use the dark web to avoid being traced by governments or others that might want to monitor or even harm them. In countries where the government restricts access to specific websites and social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the dark web has tools that can help circumvent any watchful eye. Corporate and government whistleblowers also use the dark web to maintain anonymity. The most famous tool to get on the dark web is the Tor browser. With Tor, you can access websites that address ends with the “.onion” extension. These websites are only available on the dark web and can’t be accessed through normal browsers (Google, Safari, Internet Explorer). Tor enables you to access all other surfaces and deep websites with the added benefit that it anonymizes your browser traffic by encrypting and deflecting it across several computers, called Tor nodes, before sending it to its destination.
All in all, the dark web is a scary place that has some noble purposes but also many clandestine purposes. If you have access to Bitcoin, you can use it to conduct almost any activity there that you so desire…and that is a very scary and dark proposition.