Onion Browsers, TOR, The Deep Net & The Dark Net
An introduction to the clear net (typically internet), the deep web, the dark web, and onion browsers. Here we will give you a brief run down of exactly what each of these mean as many people have researched some of these and have asked us to cover what they actually mean. There is a lot of false information about these areas of the web so we want to share the correct information with everyone so they understand exactly what each of these are.
The Internet, The Clear Net, The Clear Web, The Surface Web
Many of the people who have researched the dark net now call standard internet “The Clear Net”. This is because everyone can access the content on the ‘clear net’ from any computer that has an internet connection. It’s all public content. You can access the public information from browsers like Safari, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc., but it’s pretty easy to track who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing. Not that that should be an issue. All the content on the clear net can be found by search engines. This is the internet most people use everyday.
The Deep Web, The Deep Net
Many people are getting this term confused and claiming the Deep Web / Net is another name for the Dark Web / Net, but this is not the case. The deep web is related to the ‘clear web’, but it is the password protected area of the standard internet. For example, if you’re on the ‘clear web’, you may be searching on Amazon for your favorite product, but once you log in and access private information on their site, like your payment details, address, etc., then you are now accessing the Deep Web or the Deep Net. It’s just the protected content on the internet which is not for the general public to see. It ranges from accessing your free forum account to government information stored on secure servers to bank details and passwords. See the picture below before we get into the nitty gritty of the internet.
TOR & Onion Browsers
The gateway to the Dark Net for most is Tor and other onion browsers which allow anonymous browsing by masking your IP address through a string of computers, thus hiding you behind layers of digital anonymity, just like the layers of an onion. Tor is free and you can download it here. Each ”layer” is going to make you harder to track because the only information each ”layer” has is where the connection came from and where the connection is going. No single layer knows the complete route from the user to the content they’re viewing which makes it very difficult and time consuming to track people, but not impossible. TOR has become the main browser on the Dark Net, although it was originally created for anonymous internet browsing, but giving people near untraceable anonymity online is going to attract bad people. Enter Dark Net…
The Dark Net, The Dark Web, The Shadow Net, The Shadow Web
This is where the underground operates. The Dark Net is where you will find illegal content that is not allowed on the ‘clear net’ and not visible on your typical internet browser like Google Chrome. You can find everything from drugs to weapons to suicide forums and more gruesome content we’re not going to discuss. There has been a lot of speculation around the Dark Web and whether some of the rumors that exist are true, but there are definitely plenty of shady operations going on there. One example is the Silk Road. An online marketplace where people can buy and sell anonymously using the currency of Bitcoin which is untraceable with the latest method of transferring the currency. The Silk Road has been shut down multiple times, but keeps coming back to life. The online marketplace has generated over a billion dollars in revenue since version 1 launched by offering traffic to people selling illegal merchandise.
Ironically it’s been called a very “safe” place to shop for drugs. This is because each seller has feedback from customers and if the product is not high quality and high purity, the customers will complain and leave bad feedback. Furthermore, it’s typically not somewhere you’re going to get your money stolen either. Imagine each transaction has three “keys” which represent the people involved… The buyer, the seller, and the service allowing the transaction (Silk Road). It takes two keys for the seller to have their money released to them, so if the company or the buyer do not release the money, the seller can’t steal from you. It’s a very strange concept, but the people behind the service seem to take pride in their operation and manage it like a business with rules instead of a shady drug deal. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should ever consider searching for marketplaces like Silk Road.
If you’re interested in browsing the internet anonymously, then TOR or an onion server can be a great tool to help you keep anonymity on the web. Just be aware that that’s where the people who are trying to hide usually operate.
This article is for informational purposes only and we do not advise trying to access the Dark Web’s content.
For a deeper look at the Dark Net and how exactly it operates, you can find all the information you need in Jamie Bartlett’s latest book: “The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld“