The Deep Web: Walk on the Wild Side

Tor While Google takes you by the hand and leads you with a smile to pictures of kittens and puppies, while you laugh at the latest Grumpy Cat meme, while you skip down the aisles of e-commerce buying baseball cards and gumdrops, the Deep Web lies beneath.

Google is your friend, as is Yahoo and Bing. They show you only the top-ranked, most useful information for your particular concern. In other words, they show only the smallest percentage of the internet, only websites that link to other websites. They rely on “spiders,” which gather information by crawling from one hyperlink to another. The Deep Web is any content that can’t be found through links.

There are ways to search the Deep Web. For example, using a multi-search aggregator. But, these methods don’t go to the farthest depths.

How far you want to go, though, is a very serious question. There’s a lot of Deep Web. So much that you run into problems just properly defining it. There are harmless archives of North American beetles that just don’t utilize any links. There’s the 1790 census. It used to host WikiLeaks. Online bank accounts have no links, so they’re in the Deep Web too.  And, then, theres The Onion Router.

Originally developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, The Onion Router, or Tor, is an anonymity network that shields users from network surveillance and traffic analysis. Any website that ends with ‘.onion’ preceded by a mess of unintelligible letters and numbers is a Tor site. The data on these sites is protected by encryption and re-encryption in layers, like an onion. Multiple relays decrypt the information layer by layer. Data is virtually intractable. For those that need to advertise in the shadows, Tor provides perfect cover.

So, there’s the Deep Web, and there’s Tor, which is a subcategory of the former. The next subcategory is called the Dark Web, which is aptly titled. The most widely publicized account of the Dark Web is The Silk Road, an online marketplace that takes in about $1.2 million a month. The site exclusively uses BitCoins and offers users an overabundance of drugs, erotica, fake IDs, and anything else you might not want to sell openly. The Silk Road has it’s limits, though, and won’t sell “anything who’s purpose is to harm or defraud, such as stolen credit cards, assassinations, and weapons of mass destruction,” according to it’s terms of usage.

That doesn’t mean you can’t find weapons-grade plutonium or enlist the services of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad somewhere. The rest of the Dark Web doesn’t always have The Silk Road’ s limits. There’s counterfeit money, stolen goods, weapons, and credit card information. Child pronography and every other kind of grotesque sexual deviation is rampant. There’s even a website that claims to be actively experimenting on humans in 4 warehouses somewhere in the world. That one is most likely fake. Also, if you are actually looking for an assassination, you might want to look elsewhere. Probably all of these guys are scam artists. Try telling the police that the hitmen you met on the internet won’t give you your $100,000 back.

For those of you that can’t get enough morbidity, Business insider has posted a fascinating slideshow of some websites found on the Dark Web. It’s highly recommended that you stick with the reports that the surface web has to offer on Dark Web material. We all love to hear stories about serial killers and evil times, but the Dark Web is real and should not be underestimated. Clicking on a link with words you don’t know could seriously ruin your week and brand an image into your mind you won’t ever be rid of.

The Dark Web has it’s cracks, however. Last February, The Silk Road took a hit in Australia. A man named Paul Leslie Howard is facing a maximum of 25 years in prison for importing Cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines, methamphetamines, LSD and marijuana off of Silk Road. The packages came from Germany and the Netherlands. This is the second of two Silk Road related arrests in Australia. The DEA says it’s been investigating the site for at least a year. Jeff Garzik, developer at Bitcoin, has said that “Attempting major illicit transactions with bitcoin, given existing statistical analysis techniques deployed in the field by law enforcement, is pretty damned dumb.”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the bad craziness of the Dark Web, but it’s important to remember that it’s only a facet of the greater Deep Web. That all the animals come out at night is a fact of humanity, not of the internet at large.

There’s a stage for the intellectuals and revolutionaries among us as well as the perverts and the predators. For men or women living oppressed, The Deep Web offers freedom- and, well, everything else too.

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