Since the Edward Snowden revelations about the NSA Surveillance Program , in 2013, many are concerned about their anonymity online. As a result, the Dark Web has become a major part of the mainstream. Even Bitcoin, a popular online crypto= currency, has been used in Dark Web. Exactly what is the dark web, how to access it, and what are the pros/cons of accessing the Dark Web?
What is the Dark Web?
The Dark Web is a “collection of websites that are publicly visible, yet hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them. That means anyone can visit a Dark Web site, but it can be very difficult to figure out where they’re hosted—or by whom.”(Greenberg). The Dark Web, which is legal, is not accessible or indexed by popular search engines such as Google or Mozilla Firefox. The Dark Web is a part of the Deep Web, where you can access certain information, such as scientific reports, in various levels (see fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Katzman, Darcy. Deep Web for Enterprisers-What you can learn about competitors and customers (and vice versa). 16 Sept. 2015. Deep Web Technologies. Digital Image. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
Accessing the Dark Web: The Tor Browser
The Tor browser, known as the Onion Router, was initially “a worldwide network of servers developed with the U.S. Navy that enabled people to browse the internet anonymously. Now, it’s a non-profit organization whose main purpose is the research and development of online privacy tools.”(Thorsin). The Tor network “disguises your identity by moving your traffic across different Tor servers, and encrypting that traffic so it isn’t traced back to you. Anyone who tries would see traffic coming from random nodes on the Tor network, rather than your computer.”(Thorsin). In other words, you will be able to surf the Dark Web privately and anonymously.
Pros and Cons of the Dark Web
The obvious advantage is that you will have anonymity and privacy-no advertisements. But there are drawbacks. The Dark Web is a “censorship-free world visited by anonymous users…you will find whistle-blower sites, The New Yorker. You will find political activism blogs. You will find libraries of pirated books. But you’ll also find the drugs markets, illegal pornography, commercial hacking services, and much more besides.”(Bartlett).
Also, the U.S. government is increasingly expanding ways to access who is on and who isn’t on the Deep Web. The U.S. government is “increasing their capability to monitor the hidden network, mainly trying to infiltrating them with spying services… several U.S. cyber units totally dedicated to the monitoring of the Deep Web.” (Paganini). As a result, there is a small possibility that the government can monitor people who use the Dark Web in the future.
You must determine for yourself how important anonymity and privacy is to you in your life and then decide whether or not to surf the Dark Web knowing the risks and rewards involved. Regardless, the Dark Web is in the present and will be a relevant part of the future of the internet.
Bartlett, Jamie. “How the Mysterious Dark Net is Going Mainstream.” TED.Sept.2015. Lecture.
Greenberg, Andy. “Hacker Lexicon: What is the Dark Web? Wired. Wired., 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
Klasowski, Thorsin. “What is Tor and Should You Use It?”.Lifehacker. Lifehacker., 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Nov.2015.
Paganini, Pierluigi. “The Good and the Bad of the Deep Web.” Security Affairs. Security Affairs., 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.