Diving into the Darknet
Fear not! Your guide to explore and survive in the obscure space of the Darknet is here. Let’s break the myths behind Internet’s mysterious underbelly…
What do you mean “Darknet”?
In case you are not aware, the Internet you are using in your daily life is only a small part of the Web, just the surface. Below, there is the Deep Web, a whole different digital world, where law enforcement has no authority. As a matter of fact, the Deep Web is not a single location, but a whole class of different locations which share one thing in common – that they are hidden from standard search engines and regular internet users. It is indeed impossible to measure, though early estimates suggested that the Deep Web is approximately 500 times larger than the surface web. However, since more context and sites are constantly being added, it can be assumed that the Deep Web is growing exponentially, at a rate that cannot be quantified.
Now the Darknet or Dark web, is nothing but the “seedy underbelly” of the Web. It consists of parts of the Deep Web, alias Invisible Web, that are only accessible via specialized software.
How can I visit the Darknet?
Internet users who are curious enough to explore the Darknet must install special software which anonymize their network connections in order to have access to it. The most popular software to ensure browsing anonymity is a dedicated browser called Tor. The use of Tor or any other similar anonymizing service hides users’ traces on the Internet and helps gain more privacy in the Web searches.
A stroll in the Silk Road
The Silk Road was a large marketplace within the Dark Web territory, mostly famous for purchasing illegal narcotics, but it was also offering a wide variety of other goods for sale. Transactions in the Silk Road were taking place using virtual currency, Bitcoins. The marketplace was shut down in 2013 and is currently under investigation; it is estimated that there were over one billion worth of goods sold in the Silk Road before it was taken offline.
Hell or heaven?
While Darknet is accused of hosting numerous illegal activities and transactions, such as drug selling and terrorism, it has also been used as a tool against censorship. Offering anonymity, the Darknet was the starting point of various whistleblowers, who later on distributed their findings to the news media. The Panama Papers, the biggest data leak in the history, started off from the Darknet, when encrypted information was sent to the journalists of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. This digital space offers whistleblowers the opportunity of free speech and is frequently being used to send political messages.