WARNING! In this article we talk about the dark side of the Internet. It is dark because people there feel free and impunity, and therefore tend to commit crimes. It is a shame to commit crimes, and a thief should be in jail.
What is the Darknet
It is considered that there are three types of the Internet:
We come here every day. These are the usual sites: social networks, search engines, forums and even this blog. All of them are in the visible Internet segment. Any necessary information can be found by keywords, because almost all sites are indexed by search robots.
These are the sites which content does not fall into the search engine output: it is a huge world of sites for employees, closed databases and other service pages. Technically, they can be accessed via the Internet, but you need to know your username and password. There is nothing illegal in them, but to get there without special access is impossible.
Darknet or Dark Web
Hidden network inside the Internet, which is not visible in the usual ways. It follows the same principles as the TOR network. And the only way to get access into it is through TOR. This network was created to be hidden and anonymous, so that no one could censor or restrict the activities of the participants.
The meaning of the darknet is anonymity, but the network itself does not automatically guarantee anonymity. To comply with it, using TOR alone is not enough. A person can leave some info about himself on the forum, which can reveal his real identity, or download the Trojans, who will follow him. In this respect, you will be able to get exactly the same gift as the regular Internet — the more you give out your personal information, the easier it is to find you.
How does the Darknet work?
This is most often done through the Tor browser, so most Darknet websites are in the .onion pseudo domain. The pseudo domain means that there is no such domain on the Internet, but inside the darknet you can access it.
For example, if you enter the address http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page in a normal browser, you will get an error, because the DNS-servers do not know how to process this domain. And if you enter the same address in the Tor-browser, you will see a window HiddenWiki — Wikipedia for darknet. There is nothing forbidden in it, it just tells you where you can go if you first came into the darknet:
Onion-sites are usually hosted on virtual hosting, which is easy to set up or just as easy to change, if required to maintain anonymity. For the same reason, some links on the Dark web do not work, because the hosts where the sites were hosted have closed or moved to a new address. Therefore, in the darknet popular link directories — special thematic collections of sites from which users choose the right one. HiddenWiki is also an example of such a directory.
Search engines are also there, but they do not work as cool as Google or Bing. The fact is that there are many things hidden from indexing in the Darweb and available only by direct link. Examples of search engines from there are TORCH and Seeks.
Darknet can be divided into two parts:
- sites with texts and forums without censorship of any government
- darknet-shops to sell anything
There are a lot of shopping sites, and they most often offer something illegal. We will not list them, of course.
Darknet and Cryptocurrency
Since 2014, the Darknet has increased several times thanks to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Before that, the payment mechanism inside was complex, and many people were stopped from paying. Bitcoin lowered the threshold for entry into the paid darknet and made it available to almost everyone.
Now almost everything that happens inside the darknet is paid with Bitcoin. There are even individual Bitcoin exchanges with simplified registration to leave as few electronic traces as possible.
Darknet and the Law
It may seem like a darknet is the perfect place for criminals, and it’s almost true. Because, intelligence agencies can enter the Darknet just like any other person. In a sense, it’s even easier for them: knowing that all killers live on one site and all financial fraudsters on another, they can conduct attacks based on social engineering, exploit site security breaches and even TOR vulnerabilities.
If you are only interested in ”seeing what’s going on there and how it works”, it’s legal. Once you do something there that violates your country’s law, it is already subject to administrative or criminal law. For selling drugs, buying weapons, or distributing illegal porn on the darknet, you will be given the same number of years as if you had done it offline.
The main rule of the Darknet is that there are no laws, so no one can guarantee anonymity within the network. Everything a person does there (just like on the regular Internet), he does at his own risk. If someone commits something illegal and unintentionally reveals part of information about himself — it can be used against a person. For example, to blackmail or extort money.
Finally, there is a small story about anonymity on the darknet. In 2013, Ross Ulbrecht, the owner of one of Silk Road’s largest illegal drug trafficking sites, was arrested. He used TOR, went online through a VPN channel and knew he was wanted, so he tried to minimize his digital presence. They found him anyway.