TOR and the Dark Net: How to Separate Facts from Fiction?
Since the internet was introduced to the public in the 1990s, a lot has changed. And one of the most intriguing developments is the popularity of the “Dark Web.” Nowadays, adults are worried when young people visit the “Dark Web,” most especially, since there are reports that it is filled with lots of illegal and dangerous online activities. However, there are also positive things here. Just like any other things that are found online, problems are not actually caused by the technology itself, but rather they are caused by how people use them. Knowing the facts about the “Dark Web” can help you in providing these young people with genuine and honest support.
What is the “Dark Web?”
When you want to go online, you will usually use your PC, smartphone, tablet, or any other device that has an IP address. With an IP address, the network can send the information to its appropriate destination. For instance, it will ensure that your email is delivered to the right place. No matter what activity you do on the internet, it can be tracked down because you are using their IP address.
However, if you use the “Dark Web,” then it can hide your true IP address, making it hard to track down what are the websites that you have visited. Generally, this can be accessed using unique software such as Tor (The Onion Router). Is the dark web dangerous? Depending on how you use it.
What is “Tor?”
Today, almost 2.5 million people are using Tor. Tor is not actually the “Dark Web” but rather it is used for browsing the Dark Web as well as the Open Web without anyone knowing your online activities and your identity.
How to use Tor? Tor is a software that allows you to become anonymous while browsing the internet. You can access this through a search engine and download it for free. When you are sending a message, Tor wraps it in several layers of encryption, just imagine the numerous layers of an onion. Ultimately, this is how the software got its name.
So, how does Tor works? Messages that are sent through the Tor browser will not be directly delivered to their intended destination. But rather, it will be transmitted through “nodes,” which refers to the computers of other Tor users. In every node, a layer of encryption is removed, then the message will be delivered to the next. Every node is aware of the identity of the prior node as well as the one that comes after. However, they do not know the identity of the others who are part of the chain. That is why it is quite hard to track down the whole journey of the message or figure out where it actually began and who sent it.
Myths About the Dark Web – Fact or Fiction?
There are a lot of rumors about the dark web that are going around, but which of these are actually true, fiction, or in between? Here, we are going to explore some of the common myths about the dark web.
Myth – All the activities done on the dark web are illegal.
Fact – Although the dark web is used by most criminals, most cybercrime and other illegal activities occur in the deep web and open web.
Ultimately, some evidence shows that most illegal activities are done on social media platforms, surface websites, social news sites, encrypted chat applications, and message boards. These are usually the places where cybercriminals meet and find each other. As a social media manager, you should have some knowledge about cybersecurity practices.
Myth – Majority of the internet is made up of dark websites.
Fact – The dark web is only a fraction of the internet.
It seems that the rumors about the size of the dark web are extremely exaggerated. Most often, we can see statistics that show that 96% of the internet is comprised of the dark web. This is not actually true. Based on research, there are only about 60,000 domains on the dark web while there are more than 300 million sites on the open web. Also, most of the content on the internet can be found on the deep web, which cannot be found on search engines and are password protected.
Myth – The deep web is the same as the dark web.
Fact – Although both the deep web and the dark web are not searchable using Google and other common search engines, they refer to two distinct areas of the internet.
Most often, the deep web and the dark web are used interchangeably. So, how do they differ from each other? In the deep web, the content that can be found there is not indexed. This is the reason why it cannot be searched using any common search engines such as Google. This includes private chat groups, academic research saved on university servers, corporate databases, and password-protected content.
This is much the same with dark web content. The only difference is that the dark web is located on an isolated network. And as an added protection, it can only be accessed by anonymized web browsers such as Tor.
Myth – Criminals conduct their illegal activities in the dark web and the deep web.
Fact – Keep in mind that whether people use anonymous, secure, or encrypted online services, they are simply tools. Whether it is used legally or illegally, it’s the decision of the user.
Sad to say but the dark web and the deep web are well known for being the Wild West of the internet. This means that it is filled with illegal activities and nasty individuals. However, this is not entirely true, since there are also harmless, even humanitarian activities that are done in Tor networks.
These encrypted internet services are very useful for those who are under authoritarian regimes. This is because advocates and dissidents can hide their identities while performing their human rights and democratic programs. Furthermore, media companies such as CNN, social media networks such as Twitter, and huge news-gathering organizations such as The Washington Post, are all taking advantage of the Tor services. This can help them in accomplishing their tasks by providing people access to information that is usually censored, restricted, or blocked by the government.
Myth – Accessing the dark web is illegal.
Fact – Those who are included in the FBI watch list should not access the dark web, but for anyone else, it’s just fine.
It’s not actually illegal to access the dark web as long as you are mindful of some things. As mentioned above, the dark web is used by people for publishing and viewing content that is not permitted by the government. For instance, if an American journalist is assigned to a foreign country, then he might not be able to publish content using the normal way. Although publishing the content might be legal in the US, sometimes not in foreign countries. In this situation, the dark web can be very useful.
On the other hand, if you simply go to the dark web so you can view some illegal content, then you should remember that the FBI might be tracking some websites. Therefore, although it is fine to access some dark content, you must know that you are risking being exposed to the undercover system of the FBI.