In a world where everything digital is connected online we are all at risk more than ever. From cars that can be hacked to cell phone apps that spy on your intimate moments to the trafficking of your personal data sold to the highest online bidder – the deep and dark part of the Internet has become the word’s biggest battleground where most people don’t even know there is even a war going on.
About 40 percent of the world’s population use the Web for news, entertainment, communication and myriad other purposes , yet even as more and more people log on, they are actually finding less of the data that’s stored online. That’s because only a sliver of what we know as the World Wide Web is easily accessible.
The so-called surface Web, which all of us use routinely, consists of data that search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others can find and then offer up in response to your queries. But in the same way that only the tip of an iceberg is visible to observers, a traditional search engine sees only a small amount of the information that’s available — a measly 0.03 percent.
As for the rest of it? Well, a lot of it’s buried in what’s called the deep web with a sub-section of it called the dark Web. The deep Web (also known as the Undernet, invisible Web and hidden Web) consists of data that you won’t locate with a simple Google search.
No one really knows how big the deep Web really is, it thought to be hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of times bigger that the surface Web. This data isn’t necessarily hidden on purpose, its just hard for current search engine technology to find and make sense of it.
Take Google for instance, it only indexes %16 of the surface Web and %0 of the deep Web which means that when you are searching Google for something, you are actually only getting access to .03% of the digital information on our planet. So, for the most part, most people turn to Google to search something and when you see Google return a search quarry that says like 633 million pages related to your search term, that is just a very, very small fraction of the entire Internet it searched. It’s as if you are fishing in the ocean, and you only have access to the top 2 feet with fathoms of fish below that.
As the name implies, the dark Web a much darker part and it seems to be a place where illegal transactions take place. For this part of the web users really do intentionally bury, hide, and encrypt their data. This part of the Web is accessible only if you use special browsing software that helps to peel away these hidden and encrypted onion-like layers. Illegal things like stolen passports, the buying and selling of guns, drugs, hit people, and even the traffic of animals and humans. It’s all for sale on the dark Web.
It’s even got its own untraceable crypto currency called Bitcoin. And so, it’s a little ironic to note that the software used to encrypt and run the dark Web called ‘TOR’ was initially created to help provide people in repressed countries anonymous ways to browse outside their countries Internet restricted boundaries. Little did they know that it would get used for nefarious purposes.
What takes place on the dark Web has the potential to affect everyone. From the creation of viruses and malware to highly organized cybercrime organizations outsourcing hackers-for-hire – whatever you can think of is available on the dark Web. And so that is why people must be more aware and have the tools to protect themselves when they go online.
Some tips to keep everyone safe from the dark Web include keeping your software up to date, use complex passwords automatically generated by a password manager like 1password or lastpass and watch what you download. Also too, don’t run your computer as an administrator.
Make sure you create a standard user account instead, as there are less privileges and abilities associated with that type of user and so you would be less likely to irreparable damage than an admin user.
Finally use file encryption on your system. Both windows and Mac users have native file encryption built into their systems so if your computer does get stolen it will make it much more difficult for anyone to access your personal and private data. If you go to http://www.getcybersafe.gc.ca/you can find much more information on how to keep your personal data and identity safe from dark Web-like activities.
Marc Goodman on The Dark Web & The Deep Web