The Dark Web is a term that refers specifically to a collection of websites that are publicly visible, but hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them. These sites can be visited by any web user, but it is very difficult to work out who is behind the sites and running them, and you cannot find these sites using search engines.
The Dark Web is ominous and anonymous. Users can remain unknown if they use it correctly, meaning they can exchange sensitive information and make illicit business deals without fear of retaliation from law enforcement. Today we’re tackling a few common misconceptions about the Dark Web to shed a light on this powerful tool.
Misconception #1: The Deep Web and the Dark Web are the same
The Deep Web is a subset of the Internet that has not been indexed by the major search engines. You have to visit these sites directly instead of being able to search for them, but they’re available if you have an address. The Internet is too large for search engines to cover completely, and the Deep Web is what is left out of those searches. The Dark Web is then a subset of the Deep Web that is not only not indexed, but that also requires special access. The Dark Web is often associated with criminal activity of various degrees, including buying and selling drugs, pornography, and gambling.
Misconception #2: All cybercrime takes place on the Dark Web
ISIS uses it. The Ashley Madison hackers used it. However, those who narrowly focus on the Dark Web as the source of all threats are likely to be blind to more relevant threats and information sources existing elsewhere. For example, security researchers have observed nearly 3,000 instances of credit cards being offered for sale on the visible, surface web in the last 6 months. Social media platforms likewise hold important clues and leads to the identity of potential online criminals.
Misconception #3: The Dark Web is a massive part of the web
The World Wide Web is now home to over a billion different sites, but current estimations put the number hidden, Dark Web sites between 7000 and 30,000. That’s only 0.03 percent of the normal web. It is not clear how many people access the dark web on a daily basis, but that number is believed to be very small.
Misconception #4: It’s beyond the reach of law enforcement
While anonymous and mysterious, the Dark Web is not out of the reach of law enforcement. Over 300 dark-web-affiliated people have been arrested since 2011, according to Wired. Police has successfully apprehended drug and gun dealers, people who order illegal narcotics, and the staff and administrators of illegal sites on the Dark Web. Traditional police tactics, such as going undercover, have proven to be incredibly effective against criminals on the dark web.
High-profile data breaches tend to push the Dark Web into the spotlight, spurring security professionals to understand how and if it is going to be relevant to the security threats to their organizations. It is important for organizations to understand the environment and how cyber criminals are leveraging it.