What is the Dark Web?

We hear a lot about the Dark Web and although many of us shudder at the topic, few honestly know what the Dark Web actually is. The Dark Web is not a location but instead a way of searching the internet with anonymity. To fully understand what this means, we need to look at how the surface web works in comparison to the Dark Web.

Often, the internet is described as an iceberg in the sense that there is a portion of an iceberg which you can see although, what’s lurking underneath the water can be massive and extremely dangerous. While using the concept of an iceberg, the part of the iceberg which you can see represents the surface web. This is where websites are located that can be accessed by Google or other "normal" search engines. When a request is made on the surface web, your IP address, which is your “internet identity,” is sent directly to the requested location. For example, let’s say you are in Kansas City, and you want to access a website that originates in Austin, your IP address is directly sent from your Kansas City location to the Austin location. Thus, always being able to directly link the request straight back to the exact location it originated.

In comparison, Dark Web websites can only be accessed through darknet software; Tor is the most popular. When a request is made through Tor, the IP address is bounced from its original location to at least 3 different locations before arriving at its final destination. Making tracing these requests extremely difficult and many times impossible. One might think, other than criminals, why might such a process exist? Which takes us to, who created the Dark Web and why was it create?

The Dark Web and Darknet software were actually created by the US government to allow intelligence officials to exchange information anonymously. In the mid-1990s the US military created Tor which stands for The Onion Router which allowed intelligence to be shared entirely anonymously. In 2002, Tor was released to the public to help keep that government information safe by creating more conversations on the dark web to help cloud what could be government communication. Since the original release in 2002 the number of hidden websites on the Dark Web has now grown to over 4.5billion on the Dark Web where legal and illegal activity exists. Unfortunately, software that was originally created to keep people and our country safe is now a haven for cyber-crimes, terrorist activity and illicit sales of drugs and guns.

This month we are going to dig deep into the Dark web and uncover why you should be concerned about the Dark Web regarding cybercriminal activity and your identity. We will discuss what you should be aware of as an individual and a business. In addition, we will touch on how this terrifying activity can be monitored and what our Business Technology Associates at Pendello are doing to help keep our clients safe. For more information on the Dark Web, continue following this month’s blogs and as always, reach out to our team with any additional lingering question.