What Is the Dark Web?

The dark web refers to encrypted online content that is not indexed by conventional search engines. Sometimes, the dark web is also called the dark net. The dark web is a component of the deep web that describes the wider breadth of content that does not appear through regular Internet browsing activities. Most deep web content consists of private files hosted on Dropbox and its competitors or subscriber-only databases rather than anything illegal.

Specific browsers, such as Tor Browser, are required to reach the dark web. Using the dark web often provides considerably more privacy than just using Tor to access the web. Many dark web sites simply provide standard web services with more secrecy, which benefits political dissidents and people trying to keep medical conditions private. Unfortunately, online marketplaces for drugs, exchanges for stolen data, and other illegal activities get most of the attention.

Key Takeaways

  • The dark web refers to encrypted online content that is not indexed by conventional search engines.
  • Specific browsers, such as Tor Browser, are required to reach the dark web.
  • As with the early Internet, the dark web has also gained a reputation as a haven for illegal activities.
  • The dark web helps people to maintain privacy and freely express their views.

Understanding the Dark Web

In many ways, the dark web is much like the broader web was in its early days during the late 20th century. There is a lot of material about getting it working, and not very much to do once one gets there. A lot of the content on the dark web is very amateurish. On the other hand, it is much easier for individuals to start sites and get attention. Tech giants and large media organizations have very little influence on the dark web as of 2020.

The dark web is still very much a work in progress, and its full costs and benefits are not yet known.

As with the early Internet, the dark web has also gained a reputation as a haven for illegal activities. The dark web, like the web before it, is frequently blamed for horrible crimes, such as child abuse and murder for hire. However, these crimes existed long before the Internet or the dark web. The Internet actually helped to promote tolerance in the late 20th century, when many laws discriminated against alternative lifestyles. Similarly, drugs once sold illegally on the dark web are increasingly being decriminalized. The dark web makes it harder to enforce both just and unjust laws.

It is crucial to avoid confusing the dark web with the cryptocurrencies often used to make purchases there. The dark web makes it easier to set up and access websites that offer a high degree of anonymity for everyone involved. Many of these sites contain only information, with no ability to buy or sell anything. It is true that cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Monero, are often used for transactions on the dark web. However, one does not have to use the dark web to use cryptocurrencies.

The dark web and the deep web are also often erroneously used interchangeably. The deep web includes all the pages that don’t pop up when you run a web search. The dark web is just one part of the deep web. The deep web also contains everything requiring a login, such as online banking, pay sites, and file hosting services.

Advantages of the Dark Web

The dark web helps people to maintain privacy and freely express their views. Privacy is essential for many innocent people terrorized by stalkers and other criminals. The increasing tendency of potential employers to track posts on social media can also make it difficult to engage in honest discussions publicly. Finally, the popularity of the dark web with criminals makes it a perfect way for undercover police officers to communicate.

Disadvantages of the Dark Web

The dark web empowers ordinary people, but some people will inevitably abuse that power. The dark web can make it easier to commit some of the worst crimes. For example, the combination of the dark web and cryptocurrencies theoretically makes it much easier to hire someone to commit a murder. While the dark web promises privacy to its users, it can also be used to violate the privacy of others. Private photos, medical records, and financial information have all been stolen and shared on the dark web.