The Internet Explained

The Internet Explained
By Shashank Phatak, April 12, 2023

The internet is something that is widely accessible today, can be termed as a necessity and can be found in every other household. It has become an integral part of our lives, but surprisingly enough, not all parts of the internet are accessible through easy & traditional means. The Internet is typically divided in 3 sections – Surface Web, Deep Web & Dark Web.

The Surface Web

The surface web comprises everything that generally a common user tries to search for on the internet. That includes all your Wikipedia searches, accessing your social media accounts such as Facebook, and Twitter as well as including all the search engines such as Google and Bing among others. What’s surprising is that everything we use, and surf, is just 4% of the whole internet! The surface web data is always available in the public domain. One of the most popular iceberg analogies shall help in understanding the level of bifurcation in surface, deep & dark web.

The Deep Web

The deep web is something that can be considered private, yet it can be accessed if you have the necessary privileges. To put it in simpler terms, consider all the information on the deep web to be behind locked doors. All the data that is stored behind these doors are protected by passwords & subscriptions. If you try to search directly for this information, you will get an error message or would be redirected elsewhere. Hence to access this type of data you need necessary privileges as it contains confidential data. Many people can confuse the deep web with the dark web but that isn’t the case. The deep web is just filled with information which is private and restricted to outsiders. Any bots or even search engines won’t show you the data stored in the deep web directly as you cannot just go in your neighbour’s backyard!

The Dark Web 
The Dark Web is a hidden corner of the internet that cannot be indexed by normal search engines, and neither can be accessed via any regular web browsers. These sites are only accessible through specific software, such as Tor (The Onion Router) which uses a high level of encryption along with a series of relays to hide the user’s location & activity making it very easy to maintain the anonymity. The Dark Web is also home to several underground marketplaces where illegal goods and services are bought and sold. It is a hub of illegal activities, including cybercrime, drug trafficking, selling firearms, stolen data, and even human trafficking. These marketplaces operate anonymously and use cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, to ensure that transactions are untraceable. This makes it even more difficult for the law enforcement to track illegal activities on the Dark Web.  

Along with cybercriminals, free speech activists, whistle-blowers as well as many journalists frequently use the dark web to communicate anonymously. In such cases, the question arises whether it is illegal to access the Dark Web. The simple answer is no. It is legal to access the dark web if you wish to explore further in this area, but things can change quickly when the dark web is used for any malicious activity such as blackmail, fraud or selling/purchasing of any illegal goods. It is a thin line when a particular user is trying to access the dark web, say for example a whistle-blower is leaking information which can be technically termed as an illegal activity or breaking the law, but the whistle-blower might be helping law enforcement in revealing the malpractices of the organization. 

To wrap up, even though there are a few grey areas, it is absolutely okay to maintain your privacy and surf anonymously on the dark web unless you are breaking any laws. One should avoid using the dark web unless one can completely understand the difference between genuine activists and a group of hackers. Despite popular belief, there are a few TOR sites which do not engage in any sort of criminal activity. 




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