Understanding the Darknet
Understanding the Darknet. People use Internet on daily basis, and we all think we know how it works. Let us take some minutes to understand a little bit more about what it is and why we can use it to find news, information, books, goods & services, movies, songs, and even dates. The Internet is a vast network of connected computers and database. If you have multiple devices connected to the same network through a router, you have a LAN (Local Area Network). As long as you only share and retrieve information from devices connected to the same router, you are stuck with local information only. This local network can also connect to larger network so you can access database of your office, government, online stores, and what have you; so the network becomes WAN (Wide Area Network); it allows you to visit databases in other cities, states, countries, and even continents. No one owns the Internet, yet it is owned by everyone.
Many (if not most) people assume they can access everything as long as it is connected to the Internet. In practical usage, however, it is highly unlikely because certain portions of the Internet are intentionally hidden from the public or at least the vast majority of people. You can consider these portions secrets for examples detailed reports of military operations, financial data of private companies, engineering design of car manufacturers, and the likes; those data are accessible via Internet but only a handful of people have the privilege to access the information. These data are like classified documents stored in a portion of the Internet called the Darknet. Internet consists of multiple layers based on accessibility of information as follows:
- Surface Web: this is everything that you can find simply by using search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Search engines have the ability to index all web pages and their contents through hyperlinks. It does not matter how big a website is, as long as all the pages are interlinked with each other through hyperlinks, search engine can index them and bring them up on your screen. Surface Web is also often referred to as Public Web.
- Deep Web: in contrast to the Surface Web, this portion of the Internet is not available from the search engines through the conventional search queries. Website builders have the option to prevent search engines from indexing their creations (some parts or even the entire pages) for various reasons, for example a discussion or thread in an online forum. You can only find the discussion if you use the search feature inside the forum; in some cases, you can only do this if you are a member. Deep Web is a little bit deeper than the surface, but not actually that deep.
- Darknet: referring back to the aforementioned discussion about Internet, it is a vast network of interconnected computers or databases. Darknet also functions in the same way, but it is not open for public. Search engines cannot index its contents, and therefore the contents are not accessible for general users. You also need to use specific software (including but not limited to specific internet browser and Virtual Private Network) to be in it.
- Dark Web: the Darknet is comprised of many networks called the Dark Web. One of the best examples is P2P networks or file sharing. Unlike LAN, however, each user is anonymous. There is no way for a third-party to know who is communicating with whom.
Who Uses Darknet?
Darknet is not intended to be an open network, but everyone can use it for their own purposes. The government, military, private companies, and even individuals can take advantage of the anonymity-nature and secrecy of the Darknet for many reasons for example the exchange of sensitive information. Unfortunately, Darknet also opens the door for illicit or illegal activities; criminals can set up a Darknet to communicate with each other so they can avoid detection by law enforcements. Even when the government/law enforcement agencies know that the communication takes places, they cannot accurately point their fingers to those who are involved.