What is the Deep Web and What Dangers Does It Pose
Some may have heard rumours of what it is and what it contains however, very few people can legitimately claim to have dived into the deep web for themselves. The name itself oozes foreboding and mystery, and it is perhaps one of the reasons why many people choose not to explore it. Few true mysteries remain in today’s society, however, even with all the technology available to us today; the content on the deep web remains largely untouched. So what exactly is the deep web?
What is the Deep Web?
The nature of the Deep Web is not common knowledge by any stretch of the imagination and a large majority of people will have never heard of it before. So, to put it simply, the deep web refers to web content that is not indexed by search engines such as Google. An example might help to clarify this point: When one uses a search engine it is comparable to dragging a net along the top of the ocean’s surface, sure you might catch a lot of fish but there are many more fish at a deeper depth that you don’t catch. This example shows perfectly as to why search engines do not register content on the deep web.
Search Engines can access some deep web sites if a search request is especially specific, however, the page is often unreadable after it has been accessed. In terms of size, the deep web is astronomically big and, even though it’s impossible to calculate, it is believed to contain 7.5 petabytes of content. To put this into perspective, if you added up every web page indexed on every search engine, the deep web would still contain roughly 5000 times more content.
At this moment in time, you might feel that you have more questions than answers; so it might be a good idea to start with the question of exactly what dangers the deep web actually poses.
The Dark Nature of The Deep Web
Before we can start analysing the dark side of the deep web, it is extremely important to make one conceptual understanding of its nature. First of all the deep web can be accessed using the Tor browser. Crucially, this browser implements layers and layers of encryption on the incoming and outgoing data, which is why it is referred to as ‘the onion router’.
So what purpose does this encryption serve? This concept may seem foreign given today’s lack of Internet privacy but everything viewed, searched and traded over the deep web is, as a rule, anonymous. There is literally no record or paper trail of anything that occurs in this medium. This anonymity has several dire implications.
Everything on the deep web is completely untraceable and it’s only a matter of time before criminals take advantage of it. To put it simply, the deep web has become a corrupted hub of criminal activity. The transfer of drugs, illegal weapons and the hiring of contract killers is an almost daily occurrence on this medium.
Illegal bidding market places similar to E-bay have been set up on the deep web to sell these illegal goods and, no matter how hard they try; there is nothing the law can do to stop it. These illegal market places are extremely efficient and even boast a user-friendly interface and search bar to help criminals save time in locating their illegal goods. The currency used in these marketplaces is the cyber currency Bitcoin, which only adds to the impossibility of the transfers and guilty parties being traced.
The deep web has been around for many years however, it was not until October 2013 that the general public really began to become aware of it. This was due to the primary deep web market place, ‘The Silk Road’, being shut down by the FBI, with its creator and host being arrested. The creator was caught after he tried to hire a hit man through the site who was actually an undercover FBI agent.
Although this was a major breakthrough for the authorities, many other illegal market places have since sprung up to take The Silk Road’s place, meaning that the law is now back at square one in terms of preventing illegal activity on the deep web. The deep web may sound like a dangerous place to venture and, to be brutally honest; the everyday person can live in complete ignorance of it and still be perfectly content. However, it does have some (legal) practical uses.
What are the Benefits of the Deep Web?
The deep web is enormous and, due to its sheer size, contains information that is not always available through the use of a conventional search engine. Bearing this in mind, it can be seen that the deep web can also prove to be an extremely helpful tool. The deep web is particularly useful for oppressed individuals living under authoritarian rule as they can organize meetings over the medium without having to worry about their respective dictator’s secret service, kicking in their door at any given moment!
The deep web also hosts many ‘whistle-blower’ sites that attempt to highlight various atrocities occurring around the world that may have fallen foul of mainstream media censorship. Furthermore, the deep web is a hugely powerful research tool for academic scholars. It is unlikely that Google has, for example, indexed the latest paper on string theory, many scientists could use the deep web to get this paper instead of waiting for more to be written on the subject.
The deep web is a volatile place as it frequents both sickening moral depths as well as highly insightful territories. The deep web is without doubt, a dark and dangerous place but, if used correctly, it is capable of invaluable good as well.