Unraveling the dark secrets of the deep web
JOHN WALTER M. CALIPES -
Most of the students of this generation is perhaps a product of what we call the transcendence of intellect. The ability of critical thinking primitively began with living beings, like humans. Our ancestors relied only on their primal instincts to go through every obstacles in their path. There were no machines nor they have the intellectual capacity to create one. But as the human brain evolves, so does its consciousness. Hence, the creation of modern tools that is constantly evolving with time.
As my former cybernetics professor said, “There is no such thing as an intelligent computer, only intelligent creators. Computers are designed by us, and they are nothing without us. They’re like slaves, they can’t do anything unless we input commands, only they don’t get tired. They do all the work, we tell them what to do, they are a lesser of us.” Judging by such statement, I could immediately compare humans to God. Creating a lesser consciousness out of its own, created to do extraordinary things, but nothing greater.
Indeed, computers evolved much faster than anticipated, even faster than human evolution. We were introduced with a new technology and the next day another one comes up. We can’t even tell the difference. But if there is a technology that as destructive as it is helpful; that is the internet.
The internet is a network of information accessible through what we call the search engine and a web browser. It’s called web because it uses crawlers (in search engines) to find results to your specific query, and also because the logical structure resembles that of a spider web.
But like any other technology, the internet grew wider, bolder. What was once a tool to conveniently access much-needed information has become a tool for all uses, both good and bad. Improvements made it more powerful, more self-sufficient that it even became an inspiration for post-apocalyptic movies that tells about machines taking over the world. It may sound too bizarre, but for now, it might be just too good to be true.
The surface web
Would you believe me if I tell you that the surface web only comprises of at least 0.03% of the entire internet? The surface web includes every site you can access using any internet-capable device and an internet connection e.g. Google, Facebook, Wikipedia. So that means that even if you spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week accessing different sites, you will never be able to go further than that. The rest, well, it’s deeply and secretly hidden on a place called the dark net.
How deep is deep web?
The deep web, or sometimes called the dark net, is a closed-network accessible only by select people who knows how to access them. It’s the next-level of internet browsing where you gotta watch every click you make just like watching your steps on stairs. Why? Because one mistake may lead to certain danger. And I mean real danger. There is a real reason why these sites remain in the dark, and that is because in the surface web, they are exposed to being identified and therefore puts them at risk of being caught doing their dirty business and other illegal things they do online. Unlike the surface web sites which ends in .com, .net, .org etc. These sites end in .onion and composed of jumbled numbers and letters e.g. f7Uuy8yIt8T98.onion, hence the term onion routing.
Tor and onion routing
Anonymity has been a great deal for security-conscious people who values much of their privacy especially in browsing the internet. I mean, any I.T. expert could look up where you live by just pinpointing your GPS location using network traffic. A lot of things are possible when you know the tricks. And many people especially the government agencies are concerned about their privacy while communicating critical information on the internet. That is how the TOR was born. Tor is an anonymity platform created by the U.S. navy with a main purpose of protecting U.S. intelligence from foreign invaders, it also allows for whistleblowers to communicate safely to them. It works by relaying your internet connection to other Tor-connected computers within the planet and hides the I.P. address of your computer, making it almost impossible to track your location or to even collect your private information. That is why it is called onion routing, as it resembles an onion with several layers of protection. Your connection is relayed throughout multiple connections at a time. Tor was introduced to the public in light of the propaganda against massive surveillance and the people’s right to privacy. Obviously, it didn’t turn out too well. Tor made it easier for big, illegal transactions to be done online. Weapon sales, drug deals, exotic animals, even child pornography and human-trafficking, these are just few of those dirty things that are going on over the deep web. Tor became a double-edged sword, as the government itself is struggling to bust criminals who are using the government-sponsored anonymity platform.
Every transaction requires payment, and while online transactions may require a debit or credit card for payment, deep web merchants cannot afford the risk of being traced. That is how the currency of bitcoin became much useful. Bitcoin is an encrypted digital currency, decentralized and unregulated with no central bank governing it. It is good for everyday transactions and also allows for anonymity, which allows it to become the perfect payment method for all things hidden and illegal. However, because it is not backed by any government, its value fluctuates often wildly.
The potential good
The deep web may be a safe lair for the most notorious criminals in the world to operate. It houses vast amount of services that may sound too bizarre but ultimately possible; you can even buy a U.S. citizenship on one certain website and become a citizen just by paying the forger, purchase illegal drugs and firearms, all without a single trace of your transaction. The potential is limitless.
But as one might think of just how evil it could be, it also has its good side that most people overlook. First and foremost, the deep web served its purpose very effectively that several and many whistleblowers finds a safe haven in doing the right thing without compromising their life and safety. The deep web also houses limitless amounts of useful information that most professionals use to improve their services, like the latest medical techniques or perhaps engineering designs. It is basically the place to go if you want unfiltered information based on how it really appears. Deep web became a popular place to hold a safer meeting ground for people who may find themselves on the fringes of society.