The Dark Web, also known as the Deep Web, is often described as the bottom part of the iceberg.
While the top part of the iceberg is visible above the water, the lower part makes up the bulk of the iceberg’s mass and lies hidden beneath the waves.
It’s a good analogy. The dark web is a dangerous place filled with the internet’s seediest individuals. From hitmen to drug smugglers to human traffickers, there are lots of people on the deep web who you would never want to meet in public.
Today, I’m going to explain what the deep web is and why it’s a dark, seedy, dangerous place.
What is the dark web?
The dark web is an area of the internet that does not appear in search engine results. Its pages are not indexed in search engines and remain hidden to the general public.
Since 2001, the deep web has been several times larger than the visible internet – which is often referred to as the surface web. Just like an iceberg, the bulk of the internet lies below the surface.
The guy who coined the phrase “deep web” was Mike Bergman. The phrase refers to the idea that search engines are like fishing boats trawling nets across the ocean. The nets are going to pick up things on the surface and right below the surface, but they’re never going to pick up things lying deep beneath the waves – the deep stuff.
How do you access the deep web?
Many deep web sites are password-protected or are dynamically-generated for each visitor. Others restrict traffic according to certain IP addresses.
Most major deep web sites require a specific set of instructions in order to reach. You can’t open up Google Chrome and type the URL into your address bar. Instead, you generally need to use an anonymous browser like Tor which encrypts traffic.
Tor prevents third parties from spying on your location, IP address, or other private information. You don’t explicitly need proxies and Tor in order to access deep web sites, but you may receive a visit from law enforcement agencies if you do not use encryption.
Deep web sites generally feature the following styled links:
Not very catchy, right?
You can find a list of deep web sites at the Hidden Wiki. Just Google that, because I’m not going to link it here. But basically, the Wiki lists every deep web site you’d ever want to visit and nicely separates the sites into different categories.
Why is it dangerous?
The deep web is dangerous for a bunch of different reasons. Here are a few:
-Law enforcement officials are watching: The deep web is relatively unknown to most average citizens. However, the police and law enforcement agencies around the world know all about the deep web and regularly monitor it. Now that the deep web has become a more common term, drug marketplaces like Silk Road are going to continue being shut down and its users monitored. If you visit the deep web without Tor or a proxy, you might receive a knock at your door from your local LEOs.
-Malware and viruses: Whenever someone asks me how to prevent viruses on their PC, I say they shouldn’t visit untrustworthy websites. On the deep web, most websites are untrustworthy and run by criminals. Visiting the wrong site could infect your computer with a serious virus. McAfee just released a comprehensive report about malware on the deep web and found millions of malware entries and malicious individuals lurking online.
-Hitmen: Yes, you can hire hitmen on the deep web. They freely advertise their services. Taking out an average citizen generally costs between $15,000 to $25,000, although many services scale their prices for high-value businessmen, politicians, and public figures. Hitmen hiring on the deep web is likely an overblown issue – I suspect there are way more fake hitmen trying to steal your anonymous money than actual hitmen trying to make a living. But some of the advertisements you find on the deep web are chilling to read.
-Pay to Steal: Dangler is one of the most infamous characters on the deep web. He promises to steal anything you need from a number of stores listed on his deep web page. He steals the item, posts a picture of the item online with his name written beside it, and then sends you the item once you’ve transferred Bitcoins.
-The potential to get lured in by idiots: The deep web is more mainstream than it has ever been in the past. For many years, nobody really wrote about the deep web and law enforcement officials were completely unaware. Today, things have changed. You find lots of trolls on the deep web who lure in wide-eyed idiots with stories about the medical experiments they’re performing or how they’re willing to kill any politician for 15 million dollars.
-Arms dealers: Need a gun? Your country won’t allow you to own a high-powered assault rifle? No problem! You’ll find plenty of arms marketplaces on the deep web. It’s particularly popular in Europe, where countries are extremely restrictive about firearms ownership.
-Buy credit cards and personal details: You know when you read those news stories about how 10,000 credit card numbers were just stolen? Many of those numbers and personal details end up on the deep web, where you can buy someone’s credit card for as little as $20 to $100.
-Gambling on fixed sporting events: The fix is in. On the deep web, you’ll learn that not all sports events are random acts of chance. Betting on fixed sports events is a great way to make money, but it’s an investment opportunity that will cost you dearly. Most of the fixed sporting event websites cost upwards of $20,000. Of course, there’s no way to know whether or not the fix is real until you shell out $20,000.
But every once in a while, you stumble upon a deep web site that is just too real, too sick, and too descriptive to be fake. And that’s when you want to click the red ‘X’ button, turn off your PC, and go play with a puppy or kitten or something.
There are some good parts of the dark web
The deep web isn’t always an awful or dangerous place. There are many advantages to the deep web. Some deep web sites have good intentions, but for whatever reason, they’re not going to fly on the visible web.
Here are some of the silver linings to the dark, evil cloud of the deep web:
-Protection from The Man: If the government ever ends up seizing public domains and large portions of the visible web, then the dark web will be a place of refuge for the internet’s freedom-loving citizens.
-Mail order marijuana: Out of all the drugs in the world today, marijuana is generally considered to be the least harmful. On the deep web, you’ll find plenty of MOM – mail order marijuana – services available. You pay with Bitcoins and sometimes get it delivered to your house or find it in the wilderness via drop shipping.
-Buy stuff you can’t get in your country: There are countless things illegal in the United States which are legal in other parts of the world and vice versa. Because of some politician’s moral views, that stuff isn’t available in your own country. Thanks to the online drug marketplaces on the deep web, you can order just about anything you need no matter where you are in the world. This is particularly useful for the bodybuilding community, where supplements like Jack3d are often banned.
Just like every city has its dark alleys and shady neighborhoods, so too does the internet have its seedy areas. The dark web is that seedy area. Unless you know what you’re doing, it’s not a good idea to enter the deep web.
Unless, of course, you want to hire a hitman.