The BLACK WEB, officially known as the DARK WEB, refers to a network of websites on the World Wide Web. These websites, which are powered by an allocated system known as the Dark Internet (or Darknet, for short), are often said to be “invisible.” Websites on the black web are typically not indexed by search engines, and require special software to be accessed.
Perhaps breeding grounds for questionable activity, it is important to note that not all points on the black web are illegal. For every exchange and black market for pedophiles and terrorists is a presence for whistle-blowing and political discourse. Even some well known brands have established a presence on the black web to engage with this segment of users.
For most, though, its the aura of something that seems virtually limitless. It is commonly held that even as society has become more interconnected, only about 4% of Internet content is readily available to any given user. The other 96% is either distributed by geolocation, user-generated and restricted to closed networks (as is the case for most social media websites) or hidden in the Internet’s dark memory—that segment we refer to as the black web.
For an in-depth review on the index size of search engines, see Estimating Search Engine Index Size Variability: A 9-year Longitudinal Study
The Dark Side of the Black Web
As impossible as it may seem, imagine anything illegal being as close as a click or tap away. Websites on the black web are notorious for many illegal activities, including counterfeit currency, credit card fraud and the trafficking of illegal substances. There are even markets for smuggling weapons. Assassinations and human trafficking were once believed to be markets on the black web, but have yet to be proven or put into practice.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other law enforcement agencies are continuously investigating these types of crimes. Many intelligence agencies, including the US Military and Department of Homeland Security, are known to frequent the black web. So if you are considering plunging into the dark waters of the Internet, make certain you behave appropriately and that you don’t associate with the wrong group of users.
Accessing the Black Web
The common approach for accessing the black web involves connecting to a virtual private network (VPN) in order to conceal your identity. After this, a free software tool known as TOR, short for “The Onion Router,” is used as a web browser. TOR enables anonymous communication and user privacy by hiding the physical location of those who use it. This two step process is considered by many to be essential when accessing the black web. TOR promotes anonymity and personal liberty but without a VPN, you still run the risk of being promptly identified.
It is important to understand that there are more ways to reveal your identity than conceal it. Does your phone or laptop have a camera and you think its off? Technically, it is not. With a warrant and assistance from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), intelligence agencies can easily “back door” their way into your digital services to either see what you’re seeing, or to shut down your camera all together. The same is true for the microphone on your device. The only true way to turn it off is to remove it from your hardware, otherwise it can be exploited like a typical acoustical infection.
For more information on accessing the black web, please read our article Discovering the Darknet: A Journey below the Web and Social Sphere.
The Crypto Market
Trading and purchasing on the black web typically begins once users have taken as many steps as possible to conceal their identity. The crypto market, as it is often called, is almost completely driven by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with escrow services. This, of course, is to add another layer of anonymity to the user’s identity.
With endless discovery comes the need for protection, making the concept of cyber security a growing problem for Internet users of all categories. Being online is more than just being connected: The accessibility and transparency associated with this state can also invoke threat and fear. Curiosity is both fascinating and healthy to some degree, but users of modern technology must prove themselves responsible about where this could lead them. This is particularly true when navigating the black web.