The internet provides all kinds of information or data that is either censored or controlled by various regulatory standards such as protocol or governmental telecom authorities. The concept of the dark web arose due to the need of sharing sensitive and important information without being monitored or censored by any regulatory authority. It is more of a cyber-underworld where dark activities occur and confidential data is sold. A normal or average user cannot access the information or data present here without the Tor browser. Here, the prime focus is anonymity and keeping identities secret.
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What is the Dark Web?
The dark web is an online uncharted repository of information and content that has existed since the inception of the internet. The accessibility to its content is attained by special privileges. The web pages or websites that portray such kinds of illegal data or information do not rank on Bing or Google’s SERP (Search Engines Result in Pages).
It is the part of the internet that is inaccessible by traditional web search engines. It is an overlay network containing World Wide Web content that exists only on darknets. These networks are only accessible through the internet with specific software, configurations, authorizations, and often a unique customized protocol. According to experts, it is a subset of the deep web, a part of the internet web which is not indexed by typical web search engines.
Why is the Dark Web Used?
The dark web was conceived on 20th March 2000 as ‘Freenet’, which was a decentralized and peer-to-peer network. It was developed with the purpose of eliminating any attacks or snooping activities carried out by security agencies and government authorities.
Its popularity lies in the fact that it is not accessible to everyone. The standard web browsers don’t even consider opening these pages as they mark them unsafe. The people using this part of the web can freely share content that is either pirated or not freely available.
How to Access it?
Although it is legal to access the dark web, there are certain online activities and websites that are illegal. The dark web is only accessible through specific kinds of software and tools. All you need to do is install a dark web browser on your computer system. Once installed, it will work like a regular web browser. The user can simply type in a URL and the search results will appear. But one needs to stay vigilant while surfing. After all, it is called the “Dark Web” for a reason.
Nevertheless, browsing for information here is comparatively more difficult than using normal search engines like Google. This is because it doesn’t have the index or ranking function, making it harder to search exactly what the user requires. Only some search engines like Uncensored Hidden Wiki provide guidance for searching content on the dark web. Searching for anything here might prove to be risky because the dark web is full of illegal websites.
What Kind of Content is Present on the Darknet?
The dark web has all kinds of information. However, it is especially infamous for its troves of illegal content and stolen data. The dark web is a popular platform amongst criminals looking to sell black market products, illegally acquired databases, stolen user information, firearms, illegal drugs, etc. Any individual who wants free content can also explore the dark web.
Another concerning aspect of the use of the dark web is the increased sharing of illegal content such as pirated and pornographic materials. Several dark websites also allow users to gain access to various paid platforms and content for free. This can significantly hamper the business of various OTT platforms that rely on selling subscription plans.
How is the Darknet Used by Cyber Criminals?
The dark web has considerably contributed to the rapid rise in the intensity and frequency of ransomware attacks. Attackers carrying out ransomware attacks have widely started using the double extortion technique, wherein they threaten to leak a victim organization’s sensitive data on the dark web if their ransom demands are not met. For instance, at the end of 2021, Russian hackers leaked stolen data from the UK police on the dark web due to delays in ransom payment.
Numerous hackers and ransomware gangs sell their services on the dark web to help others carry out vicious cyber attacks on businesses and organizations worldwide. Many cybercriminals use the dark web as online repositories to conduct extortion processes or other malicious activities. According to Techjury, about 20 billion records were added to the dark web in 2020. Hackers also use the dark web to conduct illegal trades and transmit resources with restricted access. Silk Road is one of the most popular darknet marketplaces, widely known for facilitating payments made in bitcoin.
Is the Dark Web Illegal?
Accessing the web pages or resources on the dark web is not illegal or unlawful. However, it is illegal to use or access protected sensitive or restricted information. The restricted data can be credentials, login authorization details, bank account details, sensitive information of an organization, etc. In simple terms, browsing the dark web is legal but using it for unauthorized purposes is illegal.
What is the Surface Web?
The surface web is like the tip of an iceberg. The whole internet can be considered as Mount Kea, which is the largest mountain on Earth, whose 65% is submerged in the ocean near Hawaii islands. Similarly, the surface web is the small portion of the whole internet, whose most of the parts are hidden. The surface web contains all the information that can be found through search engines.
What is Deep Web?
The deep web is said to be everything on the internet that lies below the surface web. The deep web consists of data and information that is stored on the server of any website. This storage contains records, reports, and repositories. The dark web is the subset of the deep web, which is not indexed or couldn’t be searched on search engines.
Why Should One Not Use the Darknet?
Standard web browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox use several backend tools and social contracts to protect those using the internet. The dark web doesn’t provide any medium that secures or safeguards the users. In simpler terms, the users on the dark web are more vulnerable than they are on the surface web. This can expose the users to malware such as keyloggers, ransomware, botnet malware, phishing malware, etc. Anyone who uses the dark web is always at risk of suffering a cyber attack.
Relevance of the Dark Web for CISOs and CIOs
The CISOs and CIOs are primarily responsible for protecting an organization’s data and securing them against cyber threats. Cybercriminals are always a risk for an organization as they can steal its data through various mediums and post it on the dark web. CISOs and CIOs can monitor the threats circulating on the dark web, which can be used for exploitation and landing attacks.
Other ways CIOs and CISOs can use the dark web to secure their organization is by monitoring the data dumps, searching for stolen credentials belonging to an organization, or keeping an eye out for the vendors selling access to corporate networks. The best mitigation strategy can be employing security awareness training for employees to keep them informed about different kinds of threats. It has become extremely important for organizations to educate and train their employees to make them vigilant and cyber aware.
Proactive Security is Better than Unethical Defence
In the world of evolving cybercrimes, industries like cybersecurity and information security play a major role in protecting computers, networks, and software from the reach of threat actors. Organizations have a larger number of internet users and are highly prone to these cyber attacks.
Therefore, organizations must educate their employees about the cybercriminal activities that take place on the surface web and dark web. Employees should be well aware of the correct usage of both sections of the internet and the potential risks of not protecting their personal information.
It is essential for organizations to guide their employees with proper cybersecurity awareness training because the lack of knowledge can be easily exploited by malicious actors.
Have you ever come across the “Dark Web”? Share your experience in the comment section below.