Are you only doing illegal business on the Darknet? Not true, even if the headlines are mostly about it. Google & Co. only know part of the Internet. What the search engines do not automatically record is called the deep web.
And then there is the Darknet, technically a completely encrypted area of the Internet. The huge parallel universe Darknet does not only serve illegal purposes. This is how access works.
“Google knows everything”, you must not misunderstand this sentence. For almost every internet surfer, search engines like Bing or Google are the gateway to the web: what appears in the result lists is clicked on, what is not prominently to be found there on the first few pages of the hit list remains on the left.
But even if the information seeker took the trouble to click all the links displayed, he would only see a fraction of what can be found on the Internet. Because Google & Co. are inevitably not omniscient. Anyone who wants to hide something on the web from the search engines can easily do that.
Darknet: secret societies of the Internet
The operators of the darknet and deep web also take advantage of this fact. The idea behind the online darknets is similar to the concept of secret societies and hidden lodges in the real world and initially has nothing to do with illegal machinations: only those who are personally known to at least one lodge member are admitted to the meetings.
These take place in more or less publicly accessible places, but only the initiated know what is happening when and where. Transferred to the Internet, this means: Darknets use the same technology as all other Internet services, websites, e-mail, file sharing and are in principle accessible to everyone. Provided they have the right software and know what to look for and who to look for.
What is the Darknet?
Imagine an ocean. All you can see from the air is the so-called Surface Web, the part of the Internet that is made visible by search engines and in which most users are on the move.
The deep web can be thought of as the part below the surface. Part of the deep web is encrypted and not easily accessible with every browser. This is the Darknet.
How do you get into the Darknet?
The easiest way to access the Darknet is with the Tor Browser. It is based on Firefox and connects to the Tor network, a huge anonymization network. Tor Browser allows anonymous access to “normal” websites and also to so-called onion sites. The latter cannot be reached without a gate.
What’s illegal on the deep web?
Just because Google & Co. ignore the deep web doesn’t mean that everything is automatically illegal. If you concentrate on the darknet, i.e. the encrypted part of the deep web, things look different.
Even there, not everything is illegal, but a large part. Whistleblowers, journalists & Co. also use encryption to protect themselves, but so do criminals. There is basically everything in organized crime that you can imagine, drugs, weapons, but of course also pirated copies or hijacked Netflix accounts.
What is the Tor Browser?
The Tor Browser is a browser that you can use to surf the Darknet. He relies on Firefox and simply connects to the Tor network. By the way, you can also use the Tor Browser for normal surfing in order to guarantee maximum anonymity.
How Much Bigger is the Deep Web?
That is difficult to answer and we are not aware of any recent research on the subject. It is estimated that the Deep Web is up to 500 times larger than the Surface Web that is visible to search engines.
Napster, eDonkey & BitTorrent: The Origin of the Darknet
The Darknet came into being when law enforcement officers scrutinized file-sharing platforms around the world and prosecuted their participants.
The filesharers were looking for ways to continue their hustle and bustle and designed a hidden counterpart to the publicly accessible peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms such as Napster, eDonkey or BitTorrent. In file sharing networks, central servers were usually responsible for ensuring that all users could exchange MP3 files, videos or pictures and of course without worrying about copyrights or other legal details.
Surfing the Darknet: Here’s how
If you want to surf the Darknet, you need access to the Tor network. We recommend the Tor browser for this which uses Firefox and automatically locks all other functions for Tor access.
You should also ensure maximum security on the PC. Our tip: Bitdefender Internet Security, our current number 1 on the our antivirus software leaderboard.
Important, when you start Tor, your IP address appears. We therefore also recommend a VPN service that does not log any data. We recommend NordVPN, the current CHIP test winner for VPN services.
The most popular darknet sites
The Darknet is decried as a playground for shady characters. But trading centers for drug and arms deals are by no means the real Darknet hits. The top sites have nothing to do with illegal activities.
Only 1-3 percent of Tor users even surf pages in the onion network (the darknet in the true sense of the word). And, according to Roger Dingledine, there are not only dodgy sites there: The most popular site is the onion version of Facebook, around 1 million users are expected to visit it regularly. But sites like the deep web search engine Grams with which the Darknet can be explored to a certain extent, is extremely popular.
This part of the deep web has nothing to do with illegal activity. In fact, Facebook can only be reached through this in countries like China, Iran or parts of Africa. The anonymity offered by the Tor network, which some criminals exploit on the Darknet, is the only way for millions of others to circumvent government censorship measures.