Deep Web and Darknet: The "invisible" sides of the network

 

The part of the Internet that search engines are heading for is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are many myths surrounding the hidden areas of the Internet. Stories are circulating over and over again about platforms that offer contract killings or weapons. In fact, illegal platforms are often taken off the web, the most prominent case most recently was probably Darknet marketplace SilkRoad, a drug trading venue that was accessible online for years. Such pages are invisible to classic search engines. This can also be useful for legal activities, such as when dissidents want to protect their identity.

In everyday language, "the Internet" is synonymous with what search engines list. Actually, these websites are only a small part of the information that is available on the Internet. Search engines use programs to search the network for new information. Data behind a search mask, such as the prices of a portal for low-cost flights, is already no longer accessible to Google and Bing. The same applies to content from password-protected pages. With a small change in darknet programming, any operator can make its offer invisible to search engines.


Size unknown


Many databases of companies, public authorities and other organisations are also not accessible via search engines. Only those who know the exact address of a server can reach such offers. No one knows how big this "deep web" is, which is not accessible via Google and Co., because there is no exact register. Academic estimates suggest that the Darknet is 500 times larger than the superficial part of the web. However, these figures are based on a 2001 study. The reason for the much larger amount of data is that the Deep Web consists largely of databases that contain enormous amounts of information. The number of unindexed websites was estimated at 300,000 in 2004. A subcategory of the Deep Web is the so-called "Darknet". Here you will find websites and offers that are not only invisible to normal search engines. Without appropriate additional software, the contents cannot be reached at all.

This hidden part of the Internet is suitable for illegal activities because the software needed for access obscures a user's identity. Most recently, hackers here say they have attacked and taken off a hidden propaganda site of the terrorist organization Islamic State. \he most well-known anonymization service that provides access to the darknet is TOR (The Onion Router), which redirects its users' Internet traffic over a network of secured servers, obscuring their identity. However, such services do not offer absolute security. The operator of Darknet marketplace Silk Road is now in prison. However, illegal content only makes up part of the darknet. Many TOR users use the service to bypass censorship or protect sensitive information. Private communication can also take place in the darknet, encrypted and secured from prying eyes.

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