What is the Dark Web?

Definition: The Dark Web is a part of the larger deep web and refers to a collective of sites that are not indexed via conventional search engines (e.g. Google) and can only be accessed using a special web browser. Dark web pages require specific means (such as specialized software or network configuration) in order to access, and use encryption to provide the anonymity and privacy of the user.


The Dark Web explained

The Dark Web is only a small fraction (0.01%) of the Deep Web, which contains internet content that cannot be found using standard search engines. Sites on the dark web use encryption software to keep visitors and owners anonymous and to conceal their locations. That is why the dark web is a haven for illegal activity. On the dark web, you can find everything from fake passports and diplomas, content from individual accounts such as email, social media and bank accounts, personal and professional databases, illegal drug and gun sales, through to counterfeit money and stolen credit card numbers.

Criminals sell this information in online marketplaces and many sites go out of business fairly quickly, either because they are shut down for illegal activity or they change their address and name to avoid detection.

While the dark web is associated with illicit and immoral activities, it also serves as a social network (Dark Web Social Network (DWSN)) for those who might otherwise be persecuted because of their identities or political opinions. The privacy policy of the DWSN requires that members do not reveal any personal information and to remain anonymous at all times. Conceived as an interconnected address book for legally wanted persons or criminals in preparation of illegal actions, it has a positive side-effect: it also provides legal authorities insights and early warnings, assisting in the capture of criminals and proactively hampering their endeavors.

Without Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency, the dark web would not be nearly as successful. This type of virtual currency enables people to sell or buy items without knowing each other's identities. Because of their anonymity, cryptocurrencies are ideal for trading on the dark web.

Who uses the Dark Web - and is it only for criminals?

Even though the dark web is often associated with criminal activity, it also enables human rights activists and whistleblowers all around the world to communicate (it has facilitated freedom of expression in Iran and Egypt, and it has been used by Wikileaks, as well as by journalists and even government officials) as well as to shed light on corruption.

Utimaco systematically analyses the dark web and provides tools, data and infrastructure for Deep and Dark Web Monitoring, enabling legal authorities to gather intelligence-related data to fight crime.

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