Dear Tecnogalaxy readers, today we will talk about the Surface Web, Deep Web, and Dark Web. We will delve into how they work and what we can find.

Lately, we often hear (even on TV) about the Dark Web, what can be found there, how dangerous it can be, and so on. Have you ever wondered what it is and how this whole world operates?

If you don’t know the details, then this article will certainly be useful to you. Let’s get into the specifics and immerse ourselves in the web.

SURFACE WEB

The Surface Web (literally surface network or surface web) is nothing more than the Internet we are familiar with and use every day, both for work and personal purposes.

The Internet is more complex than we imagine; it consists of different network layers depending on the accessibility of data and information contained in various web pages.

If we were to imagine the structure of the Internet graphically, we can represent it as an iceberg.

This is because an iceberg is often large and imposing and appears as a huge floating ship on the ocean. Unlike a vessel, however, an iceberg conceals a very large volume (if not larger) beneath the surface of the water.

What is the Surface Web, the Deep Web, and the Dark Web? 1

Just as in real life, in the virtual world, there are public and private spheres. There is information accessible to everyone, easily traceable web pages, and fully navigable websites with content prioritized for their appearance by web browsers.

All of this constitutes the Surface Web, encompassing everything visible to anyone. Search engine bots move through visible content, attempting to find the specific elements that users are searching for.

For anyone with a web page, the main goal is to be visible to as many people as possible. Of course, the internet also includes private areas, such as the reserved sections of the countless accounts we activate every day or the private area of our bank account. These are all private and confidential pieces of information that we don’t want the entire online community to easily access.

Search engine bots do not have permission to access these areas, which makes them unreachable and invisible to regular web visitors. All this data is part of the deep web.

As we’ve seen, not everything related to the deep web involves illegal activities; it refers to all information that is not publicly accessible.

Now, let’s move on to the Dark Web. When we talk about the Dark Web, we must mention darknets, a parallel network to the regular internet.

Let’s use a city as an example, with public places open to everyone, private locations requiring permission or a ticket for entry, and then those places it’s better not to visit because they are either dark and frequented by criminals or hubs of dangerous illicit activities. These places can be either private and secretive or known; citizens are aware of their existence and their locations but simply avoid them to steer clear of trouble.

The Dark Web is similar—many know of its existence, but it’s often not so straightforward to access. Most people try to stay away from it to avoid various kinds of trouble and problems.

When was the Dark Web born?

In 1999, a project was born from Ian Clarke, an American student at the University of Edinburgh. Clarke created a free Internet platform, Freenet, which had two important priorities at its core:

  1. Anonymity
  2. The free publication of all types of content.

The Dark Web network consists of invisible nodes that use encrypted and non-standard protocols to transfer data. As mentioned earlier, the pages are not accessible to traditional search engine bots, nor can they be reached through conventional public links.

Darknets are the preferred domain of criminals, used for the buying and selling of drugs and weapons, extortion activities, and the sale of stolen items. However, they are also used by political dissidents, activists, or even newspaper contributors who wish to remain undiscovered.

Now, let’s briefly return to the world of the Surface Web, the one familiar to everyone and used daily for work or private purposes.

When we launch a web browser (such as Google Chrome) and perform a search, technically, we are composing a query. We are asking the search engine’s bot (also called a Spider) to search among the indexed pages that contain the terms or term we have entered in the designated field.

The search engine analyzes the titles and contents of the pages (text, images, videos) in search of the term or value we specified.

Based on the relevance to our request, the responsible bot returns a series of results.

The criteria used by Google or any other search engine determine the order in which results are presented through secret algorithms that are constantly updated.

Artificial intelligence intervenes and strives to better understand user searches in order to provide increasingly relevant results. The outcome of our search will naturally vary depending on the search engine and technology in use.

Is the Surface Web dangerous?

When we walk in a public park during broad daylight, we can encounter dangers, and in the Surface Web, which wasn’t created for illicit purposes and is accessible to everyone, we can also find potentially perilous activities.

If we draw a parallel with everyday life, when we cross a road, we look to the right and then to the left. When we walk through a field, we watch where we step, avoid engaging with strangers, and try to steer clear of areas that seem unsafe.

The same caution should be exercised during everyday internet browsing on the Surface Web.

We can follow a few simple rules to stay vigilant while navigating the internet:

  1. Verify the reliability of the websites we visit.
  2. Be cautious with chats; if we don’t know who is on the other side of the screen or aren’t certain, we shouldn’t disclose our personal data or sensitive information.
  3. Pay attention to what we download and what we share.
  4. Double-check what you click; not everything is as it seems. Before clicking on that enticing button, ask yourself if the page you’re visiting is trustworthy.

Falling into the trap of malware or phishing can happen in an instant. We must always keep our guard up because there are websites that may appear 100% real but are, in fact, fake.

How do you access the Dark Web?

Unlike the Deep Web, access to the Dark Web is only possible through specific software that enables users to browse anonymously, protecting both their identity and the privacy of their visited page history.

If you type any .onion domain into the address bar of a regular browser, such as Google Chrome or Safari, the corresponding site won’t be accessible.

The most well-known and widely used software to access the Dark Web is Tor. It’s available as a free downloadable browser, which can also be used for everyday web browsing while preserving your privacy.

Most users utilize Tor (with over three million downloads), and among the people who use it, there are many activists or journalists living or working in countries under authoritarian regimes. This allows them to bypass filters and censorship.

Some time ago, Turkey had blocked YouTube and Twitter. However, using Tor, it was still possible to access both platforms.

How does the navigation take place?

Once you’ve opened the Tor browser, you simply enter the address in the designated text box. The site addresses have the .onion extension and change frequently, so it’s not guaranteed that the same site will be available the next day.

There are also specific search engines to find content, such as Onion.City (which can also be accessed from a regular browser), Onion.to, Not Evil, Onion Web Search, and Torch.

What can we find on the Dark Web?

The Dark Web can be likened to a large marketplace where you can find all sorts of things, including .onion versions of news sites and even Facebook. Many of the pages are run by cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

In this vast world, there are also illegal markets that resemble forums and operate in a similar manner to eBay, with sellers accumulating ratings based on user feedback.

What is the proportion between legal and illegal?

In the year 2016, two researchers from Terbium Labs randomly selected 400 .onion URLs and then categorized them based on their purpose and content.

Through this categorization, they discovered that approximately half of these sites were legal, while among the URLs containing illegal material, the remaining portion was related to the trade of drugs, pharmaceuticals, fraud sites, and hacking operations.

The Cyber Police and the Dark Web

A very serious chapter of the Dark Web is dedicated to child pornography, unfortunately containing pornographic videos involving children and unaware teenagers.

In 2014, the first investigation conducted on Tor by the Cyber Police, known as “Sleeping Dogs,” led to the arrest of professionals, laborers, bank employees, ranging in age from 24 to 63, some of whom were married and had children.

Why is the Dark Web considered dangerous?

The dangers are connected to the presence of malware, which fortunately are recognized by modern antivirus software.

Another danger concerns law enforcement monitoring, which may mistake a simple visit to Dark Web sites for something else.

Many of the services and products available in the Dark Web are outright scams.

The Famous Parable of Silk Road

Silk Road (literally inspired by the Silk Road) was a Dark Web e-commerce site, one of the most notorious illegal e-commerce sites on the Internet, accessible exclusively through Tor.

It was an online store where one could purchase drugs, real and cyber weapons, even counterfeit documents, medications, narcotics, etc., conveniently divided into categories.

Silk Road was founded in 2011 and shut down by the FBI in 2013. Its creator, named Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life in prison in 2014.

He is believed to be the real person behind the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the famous guardian of the “way,” characterized by a green cloak, who concealed his identity using the name of the fictional character from William Goldman’s 1973 novel.

Ross Ulbricht, with a background as an Eagle scout and an engineering degree, represents the profile of the web pirate—a liberty-minded individual who created the Silk Road as an economic experiment.

In the next article about the Dark Web, we will explore the top 20 onion sites on the Dark Web. As always, use them responsibly and only on your own devices/computers, as testing them on devices/computers that do not belong to you is illegal.

Until the next article!

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