Dark Net - Everything You need to Know

What is the Dark Net?

The “dark net,” also known as the “dark web,” is part of the greater “deep web,” a network of secret websites that exist on an encrypted network. Dark net websites are separated out from the surface net through encryption. Most dark net websites use the Tor encryption tool to help hide their identity.

The Upside to the Dark Net?

The network is also used by several activists especially those living under oppressive regimes to communicate without any government censorship. It is known to have large virtual libraries available for researchers and students.

Dark Net = Deep Web?

Within the deep web exists the Dark Net. These websites are not indexed by search engines and they are also only accessible by computers using special software to protect anonymity. Every webpage on the Dark Net is part of the deep web, but not every deep web page is on the Dark Net.

How does the Tor Hidden Services Protects the Anonymity of Dark Net Visitors?

Tor Hidden Services were originally designed to protect the anonymity of users as they visited normal websites, and it still can be used for that today. A Dark Net is just an alternate, though now primary, way to use Tor Hidden Services.

Normally, in order to access a website, a computer must send a data request to the server where the website is housed. That website receives the IP Address of the initial device. In TOR the transmitted data is encrypted multiple times in nested layers and sent to multiple onion relays in the Tor network before finally shooting out of the network and to the desired website.

Upon receiving the request, the website cannot discern the original source. All it can see is the location of the last relay in the Tor network. As an added security measure, these routes through the onion relays are active for only about ten minutes. After that time, Tor will dissolve the route and automatically create a new one in the network for the user.

What are Onion Relays?

These work just like proxy servers. They simply pass along the message to the next server in the route. However, what makes onion relays unique is that they only decrypt a small portion of the encrypted layers in the onion. No single onion relay every truly knows what it is passing along. It only decrypts the location of the previous server and the one that comes next.

Summing it up:

The dark net is an excellent example of how difficult it is to prevent criminals from using anonymizing services designed to protect honest dissenters. Tor’s anonymizing functions are critically important to people who rely on it to discuss sensitive topics without fear of reprisal. The debate over how much light should be shone into the dark web is an ongoing topic of discussion. How much illegal activity should be allowed to maintain Tor’s positive benefits, and is there a way to unmask child molesters and other illicit activity without compromising the security that makes the dark web work?

By Vardaan Singh

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