What is dark or deep network
Myths and legends: what is the darknet and what makes it so special?
Hidden from the eyes of the ordinary Internet community, the Darknet is a place where myths and legends have grown up. Secret societies should decide on access to certain areas. Celebrities who secretly maintain their networks. Freedom fighters who organize there. Even traditional mafia clans should now operate a large part of their business in the darknet. But to understand what makes the Darknet so special, you first have to understand how it works.
The three levels of the internet
There are three levels in the internet: the clear web, the deep web and the darknet. The visible area of the Internet is called Clear Web. It can be found with the help of search engines and is openly accessible, such as this page. One level behind is the deep web (translated: deep network). The part is restricted, partly encrypted and / or is mostly not found via search engines. Closed member areas or digital bank accounts are just a few examples of the deep web. The darknet (translated: dark network) is on the last level. This area can only be reached with the so-called Tor network. Anyone can use the network with the right extension for the Internet browser. Connection data is encrypted several times and anonymized. Anyone can download the necessary software freely from the Internet. Certain areas are only accessible by invitation and with a password.
What does the darknet look like?
On the surface, the Darknet looks very similar to the openly accessible parts of the Internet (see screenshot). There are various sites, forums, online marketplaces, communication services and even search engines. Even Facebook has been offering a version in the TOR network (https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/) since 2014. In the early 2000s, work on the Tor network as we know it started in the United States. It developed parallel to the Clear Web and has increasingly adapted to the habits of “normal” Internet users. At the same time, its size has grown enormously. However, many parts are only accessible by invitation and with the correct access data. To do this, the user must have the right contacts, which he either made in the real world or whose trust he has earned on the Internet. People who move around the Darknet couldn't be more different.
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Crime and the struggle for freedom: who uses the darknet?
The Darknet has an average of around 250,000 users in Germany. However, estimates of the number of users on the Tor network vary widely. At the beginning of this year, there was even brief mention of 1.5 million users in Germany. According to Tor statistics, the network currently has around 2.5 million users worldwide.
Around 57% of all Tor websites offer illegal content, according to a study by Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid from 2016. Drug dealers, arms dealers, contract killers, human trafficking, pedophiles, hackers and other criminals use the network to collect their goods or To offer services. In the Darknet you can buy everything that the illegal market has to offer: rare wild animals, account information, cyber attacks or data sets from strangers. In anonymity, they can communicate with their customers undetected and evade criminal prosecution.
But the darknet also offers a safe haven for those who fear persecution. Dissidents, whistleblowers, homosexuals ... Those who are persecuted in their country because of their political, religious or sexual convictions can openly express their opinion here, exchange ideas with like-minded people and organize. During the Arab Spring, for example, members of the opposition in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco organized their demonstrations on the Darknet.
In times when companies like Google and Facebook collect a lot of our data, more and more people are drawn to the Darknet, for whom the protection of their privacy is important. The data is evaluated in order to offer individual advertising and to better understand user behavior. Some people are reluctant to collect their data per se, others are reluctant to use it for commercial purposes. Some use the Darknet mainly because of the encrypted data transmission.
Of course, there are also many curious onlookers to be found on the Darknet. They want to try out whether they can get started with the Darknet. Others want to find out what goods and services are on offer there and what their prices are. But even those who just want to look around the Darknet can be liable to prosecution. Anyone who unintentionally comes across child pornography is already a criminal offense. After all, all information ends up in the cache of the devices used and possession of child pornography is a criminal offense.
What are the dangers of using the Tor network?
Using the Tor network is not entirely safe. In addition to the risk of unintentional access to pages that offer illegal content and thus make yourself liable to prosecution, you can also be attacked by cyber criminals here. The network does not offer any special protection against cyber attacks, as is so often assumed. There is also a rumor that many of the network's servers are in the hands of secret services. According to the Federal Agency for Civic Education, a large part of the funding for the TOR project still comes from the “research pots of the US government”.
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