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Dark Web vs Deep Web: Separation of Hyperbole from reality

So you heard the terms 'Deep Web' and 'Dark Web' thrown into the media at late, and the last bust of the infamous 'AlphaBay Market' has probably aroused your interest in the subject. However, much of what is available in the media reflects on the daily reality of people who need to use anonymous software to reach those deep and obscure parts of the Internet and focuses exclusively on some unpleasant aspects of the so-called "Deep Web". '. Today we'll take a look at what Deep Web really is and how it differs from "Dark Web", which most people most often refer to when they talk about the Deep Web. However, before we get to this , let's take a look at the various layers of the World Wide Web, including the part that we access every day on our PCs, smartphones and tablets.

The Web as we know it

The web we know and love includes many of your favorite virtual destinations, including popular search engines like Google and Bing, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, e-commerce portals like Amazon and eBay, information sites like Wikipedia and Quora and blogs as a Politician and Beebom. In fact, no matter where your interests are, you'll always find something on the net that will tickle your fancy.

Most of these sites are easily accessible through your standard web browser, but no matter how prolific your browsing habits are and how voracious your desire for knowledge is, you will most likely never be able to immerse yourself in the vast sea of knowledge that exists on the web, especially because many other information is published daily on the Internet. It is said that these websites that anyone with access to a connected device can visit without any prior conditions form the "Surface Web" . However, not all information published on the network is actually meant to be accessible to everyone.

The hidden Web

Along with all publicly accessible sites (of which there are millions), the World Wide Web also includes the websites of the email service provider, your bank, your insurance company, your hospital and other organizations that have a lot of private and confidential information that, for obvious reasons, are not available to anyone or everyone. Similar is the case with streaming services like Netflix and news publications like The Wall Street Journal, whose contents are behind a paywall and are accessible only to paying subscribers.

Obviously you can visit their websites through your standard web browsers, but to be able to progress further, you will need to have a valid account that positively identifies you as someone who has the right to access the sanctum of those sites and networks . Again, you only have permission to access your web pages, so if Google, Yahoo and Microsoft don't do it horribly, you shouldn't, in theory, have access to my e-mail and vice versa.

At this point, you realized that the general public only allowed access to a small part of the billions of websites and 60 billion Web pages existing on the World Wide Web. In reality, it is said that Google and Bing's search robots can only index about 1 in 3,000 pages on the Web, leaving the vast majority of the World Wide Web out of their competence and essentially "hidden" from public view. precisely this part of the Internet that is often referred to as "Deep Web" and which is often part of a disinformation campaign due to the prevailing confusion on the subject among the general population.

The largest portion of the Deep Web actually consists of statistics and databases, with US government agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the USPTO and the SEC which has a great deal of information. There are also millions of pages on the "intranet", which are internal networks of organizations and are accessible only by persons admitted into the system by administrators.

Just to be clear, the Deep Web hidden for good reason, and unlike what many sensationalist reports on the subject have said over the years, it has literally no nothing to do with illegal activity . In fact, just as technology exists to hide private things from public research, otherwise we should still store all our personal documents in paper files, like all our grandparents did decades ago.

Dark Web vs. Deep Web: clarify the confusion

Unfortunately, some sections of the media have often seemed confused about the Deep Web and what the term really means. With all the talk about the alleged illegal activities taking place in a dark corner of the internet, some bloggers and commentators have, over the past few years, tend to use the terms Deep Web and Dark Web interchangeably.

First of all, let's understand: the Deep Web more than 99% of the Internet, e not synonymous with Dark Web . And contrary to the claims of some confused bloggers who would like you to believe that the people who visit the Deep Web have degenerated beyond redemption, the fact remains that practically we all visited the Deep Web at a time or the other.

This is why you are on the Deep Web every time you check e-mail, watch Netflix, pay your last purchase on Amazon, or practically do everything that requires you to access private web pages that are designed just for you. It really is that simple. All that is not on the surface of the World Wide Web which is accessed massively the Deep Web, so consciously or unknowingly, we have all been there. And quite often to that.

So what is the confusion then? If the Deep Web really so innocent, why do some sections of the mainstream media continue to write about how dangerous a place where the hidden internet is? All that report on drugs and murder-per-hire, all that indignation about human trafficking and child abuse, which can't all be false news, is it? The relatively simple answer, but there are still many levels to the story.

First of all, all that illegal stuff is really happening behind the cloak of anonymity, but as mentioned above, when the media talk about all the shady things that happen in the dark belly of the Internet, for the most part, I'm really just referring to the so-called "Dark Web" – the overlay networks they form a tiny part of the Deep Web and are accessible only through specialized software which was specifically configured for the purpose.

The confusion between Deep Web and Dark Web between sections of users who are not experts in technology understandable up to a certain point, even if, in reality, the Dark Web is only a subset of the Deep Web . Of course, neither can be indexed for research, but large sections of the Deep Web, unlike the dark networks that make up the so-called Dark Web, do not need any special censorship software for access. The Dark Web, on the other hand, accessible only through various anonymous platforms, the best known and most widely used including Tor. Other platforms like I2P and Freenet are generally referred to as parts of the Dark Web.

Legalities and disputes

So, now that we have analyzed the fundamental differences between Surface Web, Deep Web and Dark Web, we should also take a quick look at some of the reasons why the so-called Dark Web often suffers a bad blow. Behind the anonymity of censorship-resistant platforms, Dark Web has prospered a flourishing trade of all that is illegal and unacceptable in civil society. In their book Cryptopolitik and The Darknet, researchers Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid stated that about the 57% of the Dark Web includes illegal content . From smuggling substances to automatic assault weapons, from disquieting images of blood and violence on children to hired assassins, you can find anything and everything listed in the numerous markets thriving on the obscure Web, if you know where to look.

However, most darknets manage to remain within legal and / or ethical boundaries for the most part, and certainly worth a try. In case you are interested, the first place you should obviously look at is the Tor platform. Tor hosts the vast majority of Web sites on the Dark Web, therefore, understandably, the best place to start if you want to see for yourself what the fuss is about. You can get a detailed tutorial on how to access the Dark Web in one of our previous articles, so you should definitely check it out if you want to learn more.

If you are worried about Tor's legality and are wondering if you can get into trouble for using the software, be sure that simple navigation on the Dark Web will not lead you into any legal problem as long as you stay away from participating in illegal activities while I'm there. But then again, this warning is equally applicable even on the regular web, so in this case not at all different.

Arguments for and against the hidden Internet

Even in the midst of all the disturbing material found in the sections of the so-called Dark Web, the fact remains that anonymous communication networks are an advantage for many activists, journalists, researchers and informants who simply need anonymity, without which their lives and livelihoods could be in grave danger. Indeed, Tor the main anonymous platform in the virtual world and has been recommended by various human rights organizations as a shield for activists and dissidents fighting oppressive regimes around the world. Reporters sans Frontires (Reporters without Borders) also described Tor as a "essential survival kit" for its members, while cyber security researchers are also known to use Tor to test firewalls and provide emergency DNS lookup services in the event of DNS failure.

However, all these confirmations do not seem to have convinced some world leaders on the importance of online anonymity. Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron was a vocal critic of end-to-end cryptography used by apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat, and actually even tried to connect the then US president, Barack Obama, in an attempt to pressurize US technology companies to give government agencies a backdoor, so that they could monitor the activities of anyone they felt indulging in suspicious behavior. US law enforcement agencies have also expressed strong reservations about cryptographic software, especially after the San Bernardino attack a couple of years ago.

Strangely, although US law enforcement agencies have publicly cried out against encryption and anonymity in the virtual world, Tor is actually funded largely by the US government, even if, indirectly. According to a report published in 2013, the Tor project received over $ 1.8 million that year from two non-profit organizations that are funded directly by the US federal government. While Internetwork News, which donated $ 555,000 to The Tor Project, funded by the US State Department, SRI International, which donated $ 830,000 to the project, funded directly by the US Department of Defense.

Deep Web vs Dark Web: legal, illegal and shades of gray

As with most things in life, the Deep Web is also a combination of good and bad. In its darkest corners or in the Dark Web, it actually has some terribly unpleasant and repugnant content, but the same can also be said about the normal web, where sites like LiveLeak, 8chan and many others often host absolutely aberrant things. However, like any healthy person, a lover of freedom would agree, bans and government censorship are certainly not the answer to anything in a free and fair society.

The fact remains that, for better or for worse, simply technically impossible to control the Internet, with all the 60 trillion pages. it is even more difficult for law enforcement to monitor anonymous networks like Tor. China has tried it with its much acclaimed Great Firewall, but mostly failed to curb opposition activists, with the Tor project introducing secret entry nodes called "bridges" that are very difficult to block.

So, once accepted that the censorship is not the answer n ethically or technologically, as it proposes to stop drug dealers, gunners, terrorists and pedophiles from usurping what should be a platform for vocal freedom for harassed activists and the whistle ? -blowers? Because all in all, the ability of criminal elements to abuse the system must be measured against the benefits that Tor and other anonymized networks bring to their users, many of whom really need such services. After all, anonymity in the virtual world is not a black and white debate. As in most things in life, even in this debate there are enough shades of gray; some are simply darker than others.