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All about Dark web

The World Wide Web has another part specifically designed to hide all the activities that take place there. This is known as the dark web.
Dark Web

The internet has changed people’s lives since its conception. The application of the internet has been abundantly blessed by the human race; from speedier communication to convenient information sharing. The majority of people nowadays utilize the internet to access numerous websites or web pages holding various types of information – such as text, images, audio, video, and many more.

The difference between the internet and www

People have been wondering about the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web because of the increasing use of the internet for data retrieval (or simply the web). The internet is made up of networks all around the world that are linked together to form one global network. these networks are linked by cables or satellite links and follow a set of communication standards known as protocols.

The internet employs a variety of protocols to provide services to its users, including data dissemination, email, file sharing, and online messaging. The World Wide Web, out of all of these services, is the only one that allows the internet to disseminate data or share information.

It uses HyperText Transfer Protocol to allow websites to display material from many networks throughout the world(HTTP). Simple mail Transfer Protocol(SMTP), Post Office Protocol(POP), and File Transfer Protocol(FTP) control services that are not part of the World Wide Web, such as email and file sharing. Because most people utilize the Web section of the internet to share and/or retrieve information, the two phrases- The Web and the Internet- are frequently interchanged.

However, these two terms are not interchangeable. The World Wide Web (software) uses the Internet as the underlying (hardware) infrastructure for hosting digital material in the form of websites or simply web pages.

Fig 1: Showing different parts of the World Wide Web as different portions iceberg.

Surface Web

The Web provides users with billions of web pages that are easily accessible from standard web browsers and search engines. This part of the web, open to everyone, is called the surface web (Santos, 2015). Users access online resources on the surface web by entering a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) in a web browser or by sending a string of keywords queried by a search engine.

The latter option provides an ordered list of search results that are most relevant to your query. Both methods provide quick and easy access to information on the surface web (also known as the visible web or Clearnet). Because of the sheer amount of information that can be obtained with just a few clicks, the general public is that all online content hosted on the World Wide Web is part of the surface web and traditional search engines (Google and Bing).

It is easy to believe that it can be accessed from (etc.). And a web browser. But that is far from the truth. The surface web contains less than 20% of all information on the web (Santos, 2015) (Sui, Caver lee, and Rude sill, 2015). The visible web is formed only by the content that search engines can reach on the web. Web resources that are out of reach of search engines are not part of Visible Web.

Therefore, the amount of content present on the surface web is limited by the techniques that search engines follow to extract information from the worldwide web. Search engines use an application program that searches the World Wide Web to index all “reachable” web resources. These programs are known as crawlers/spiders/harvesters.


The crawler navigates the web to collect documents and files that exist online in the form of web pages. Websites are usually linked to each other via inbound and outbound hyperlinks. These hyperlinks allow search engine spiders to visit and extract information from a variety of websites. This process of collecting information when navigating from one web page to another via a hyperlink is called a crawl. The crawler starts with an initial set of seed URLs and scans each web page that links to those URLs via outbound hyperlinks (Santos, 2015).

All online content that can be reached via incoming and/or outgoing hyperlinks will be crawled. Crawled pages are indexed for easy retrieval for later use. Finally, when a user submits a search query, the search engine displays these indexed web pages in an orderly manner. Search engines have made a lot of information available, but the vast majority of the Web remains inaccessible to users. Web spiders can only enter and exit websites via hyperlinks.

Crawlers cannot access web pages that do not have incoming hyperlinks. Such pages remain not crawled and their content remains hidden from the eyes of search engine spiders. For this reason, the number of web pages on the surface web is a subset of the web pages available on the World Wide Web. The web is a sea of ​​knowledge, and crawlers dive into the web to collect as much content as possible. The content collected by the crawler forms the surface web, and the rest of the content forms another layer of the web called the deep web.

Deep Web

The World Wide Web is a huge collection of data that can be accessed both directly and indirectly through crawlers. The accessible data indexed by standard search engines is the visible tip of the iceberg, most of which is hidden in the deeper layers of the web. This “invisible” part of the web that traditional search engines cannot index is called the deep web. It does not appear in search results because it consists of all the content that the search engine spider cannot crawl.

Deep web content is hidden from regular searches, but it is usually neither illegal nor dangerous. I just can’t search. Most of this information can be found as a result of targeted searches on the web. Deep Web, commonly known as Hidden Web or Invisible Web, includes a variety of academic records, meeting minutes, legal documents, medical records, corporate records, scientific discoveries, database content, government-protected sensitive civilian data, and more. Contains information. Is the website of the university library and is all online information that only registered people can access.


This type of deep web data is typically located at:

Unlinked web content: Web pages that are not linked to other web pages by backlinks (inbound and/or outbound hyperlinks) remain obfuscated and are only displayed if the exact URL is known. increase.

Dynamic content: Websites that provide users with a search box (instead of hyperlinks) to navigate between pages on the website become part of the deep web. This category also contains information that is only available after the user fills out an online form.

Private content: Deep Web also includes content present on websites and networks, owned by governments, educational institutions, and private organizations, that require registration and login to be accessed (Norton, 2016). For example, accounts created by users on online social networking websites, bank websites, and even e-commerce sites are not returned in the results of search engines.

Paid services: Another kind of un-crawled content includes paid services that are made available to authorized individuals only (Cooper & Chikada, 2015). For example, Paid video-streaming platforms.

Limited access to websites/web pages: All online material that requires human verification (like CAPTCHAs) before being displayed, remains unindexed and hidden from Surface Web (Santos, 2015).

Restrictions by website developers: Web spiders (crawlers) can be prohibited from crawling a website if appropriate settings are made in the associated robots.txt file (Santos, 2015).

limited-access networks: This covers all those resources and services that are not reachable with standard network configurations. For example sites with domain names that have been registered on DNS roots that aren’t managed by the ICANN and have URLs with nonstandard top-level domains. Such sites usually require a specific DNS server to resolve their URL. Other examples are sites that registered their domain name on a completely different system than the standard DNS, like the.BIT domains (Ciancaglini, Balduzzi, McArdle, & Rösler, 2015).


Therefore, the Deep Web is a location on the World Wide Web that cannot be reached by a search engine keyword search but can be reached by entering the exact destination URL in a traditional web browser. It is almost impossible to accurately predict the size of this invisible web, but it is estimated to be 400-500 times larger than the surface web. This part of the web offers a higher level of privacy compared to the web pages you are viewing, as deep web content is not visible to everyone in search engine results.

However, deep web websites are under the authority of an internet service provider that provides private server hosting services. They ensure privacy but are far from anonymous (Norton, 2016). Anonymity on the web is provided by another segment of the web called the dark web.

Dark Web


The separation of the web into visible and hidden webs was due to today’s search engines, which can only crawl hyperlinked content. The data remains hidden in the hidden web, but this layer of the web was not intentionally created to hide the information. Rather, the World Wide Web has another part that is specially designed to hide any activity that occurs there. This is known as the dark web.

Many people do not have a clear understanding of the two web layers, the dark web, and the deep web. Some people assume that darknets like deep networks are equal, but these claim that they are two different layers. These two statements are incorrect. The dark railway is a deep web subset. Like Deep Web, dark webs remain unlimited by the search engine, but unlike Deep Web, they can not be accessed through a standard web browser.

More about Dark Web

Dark Web requires special software, configurations, and approval (DANGE, MALKAN, & JHA, 2018). Figure 1 shows these three layers of the World Wide Web in the form of icebergs. Another important difference is the stability of websites/web pages hosted on the Invisible Web and the Dark Web. Surface and deep web websites are usually stable and can be used for a long time, but the dark web tends to have a shorter lifespan than Clearnet websites.

A dark web survey was conducted by Secure list and found that most sites in this part are very volatile. Most dark websites were found to be active between 200 and 300 days, but many were only active for about 60 days (Intelliagg, 2016). Despite these features, sites on the dark web are becoming more popular.

Though the Dark Web has existed for years, one incident that added it into the limelight became the hacking of the Ashley Madison database in 2015. Ashley Madison is a web courting platform for married people. In July 2015, hackers have been capable of getting admission to its database containing the private info of around 37 million customers. Around nine GB of this data, together with client names, addresses, emails, sexual choices, and credit score card information, became dumped on Dark Web (Weimann, 2016).

This incident drew main public interest and gave a lift to the recognition. If we examine the World Wide Web as an ocean, the Visible Web is the wave’s gift at the surface. Below the surface, lies the invisible global of the Deep Web. And the innermost part of this Invisible Web, requiring quite particular equipment and system to reach, is the Dark Web. TOR is one such device that opens the doorways to the sector of the Dark Web.


Navigating websites on the Dark Web is turning into an increasing number of handy as new software programs input the markets each day. These software programs provide anonymizing and encrypting centers to get admission to Dark Web websites. TOR is one such software program that has been the maximum famous candidate in this category. TOR is an acronym for “The Onion Router”.

It is a loose software program that permits nameless verbal exchange over the Web. People regularly use the acronym TOR to consult the TOR community in addition to the TOR browser. While the TOR community is a group of a big wide variety of volunteer computer systems that run a selected server application, the TOR browser permits customers to cover their identities while having access to the content material hosted at the TOR community (Poobalan, 2018).

In essence, the TOR browser is used to get admission to the TOR community. Its sole cause is to hide customers surfing patterns, choices, and regions in addition to their real identities withinside the Internet space. Thus TOR permits its customers and their online sports to stay untraceable (Cooper & Chikada, 2015).

TOR’s growth

At gift, TOR is a non-income venture which incorporates renovation of the software program in addition to the community. It is administered with the aid of using folks who actively attempt for customers’ proper online privacy and anonymity. Even with its increasing consumer base, TOR strives to stay non-income and by no means collects consumer data (Poobalan, 2018).

This has deepened the consideration of its target market and made it well-known withinside the Dark Web community. With a complete of 17. five million downloads recorded to date, the TOR venture claims to have around 2 million each day customers. Though maximum of those customers locates TOR offerings to be slower than connections made at the Surface Web, they may be geared up to pay this fee for the offerings it offers.


TORs’ gradual velocity is an end result of its anonymizing technology, referred to as Onion Routing. This method evolved with the aid of using the U.S Navy lower back in the 1990s’ as a good way to protect its online intelligence verbal exchange (Poobalan, 2018). To maintain user anonymity, TOR encrypts traffic multiple times. This encrypted traffic is routed through multiple TOR servers. These servers (sometimes called relays/routers) are always randomly selected when establishing a connection to create a private and secure communication path. At each relay node, the encryption layer is removed so that the current node can find the address of the next destination node.

This is similar to peeling onions layer by layer, so each relay can only peel the top layer. That’s why it was named Onion Router. Onion routing creates an encrypted connection that is gradually established between any two nodes. This allows each node to know only the node that received the data packet and the node that needs to forward the received packet. This makes it impossible to trace the source and destination of user requests. In this way, the TOR network allows users to hide their online footprint and escape surveillance.

TOR is a way to break into and traverse the dark web. Other well-known alternatives are I2P (Invisible Internet Protocol) and Freenet. While I2P provides anonymity between applications over encrypted connections, Freenet uses peer-to-peer capabilities to set a new path for each new connection. This slows down page resumption, but end users find Freenet easier and more convenient. Many of this anonymization software is available online, making it easy to be both a visitor and a host on the dark web. This allows different types of users to access and host various illegal and legal services on the dark web.

Illegal activity on Dark Web

The dark web allows users to access websites anonymously using software such as TOR. In this way, they can circumvent surveillance, and their identity, preferences, whereabouts, and online activities remain hidden. Online anonymity paves the way for user privacy, but it also opens the door to a variety of criminal activities. Recently, numerous websites offering illegal products and services have appeared on the dark web. Some of them are:

  1. Counterfeit money:

    dark web

    The dark web acts as a distributor of counterfeit currencies that are guaranteed to successfully exceed standard UV light tests. The amount paid in such cases depends on the quality, quantity, and type of counterfeit currency. Example: A $ 600 worth of counterfeit US banknotes can be obtained for about $ 2,500 (Dange, Malkan & Jha, 2018).
  2. Fake document:

    dark web

    Some websites on the dark web are also known to provide fake passports, immigration documents, driver’s licenses, and other identification documents to any country in the world (Ciancaglini, Balduzzi, McArdle, and Rösler, 2015). The prices of these documents vary primarily depending on the country in which they are used. These services allow infamous individuals to obtain fake citizenship according to their needs. Other out-of-the-box fake documents include citizenship documents, fake IDs, college diplomas, and even diplomatic IDs.
  3. Drug:

    dark web
    You can buy various types and qualities of illegal drugs on the dark web. Banned drugs and medicines such as Ritalin and Xanax can also be found on the Dark Web Marketplace (Ciancaglini, Balduzzi, McArdle, and Rösler, 2015). The Silk Road is an example of the Dark Web Marketplace, which has become famous for its various medicines sold in large quantities.
  4. Stolen Confidential Information:

    dark web

    This includes buying and selling personal information such as stolen credit card details, bank account details, and even social security numbers. In addition to physical credit and debit cards, you can also buy bank accounts at various prices in this dark world.
  5. Hacker: Another community that benefits from the dark web is hackers. They can easily buy advanced malware and even receive rewards from stakeholders to launch all sorts of online hacking attacks against specific governments, organizations, or individuals (Spalevic & Ilic, 2017).
  6. Weapons and ammunition: Illegal trade in explosives, weapons, and firearms is also openly carried out. These services ensure that the requested product is delivered to the buyer in a special package that can easily pass all types of scans and security checks. Guns and ammunition may be placed in children’s toys and electrical equipment to avoid the eyes of authorities (Dange, Malkan & Jha, 2018).
  7. Hitmen: Many portals on the dark web allow people to hire professional assassins. Often, the client has the opportunity to specify the enemy / how to assassinate the enemy by the usual method or by bombing, torture, rape, etc. The amount of money required for such an act depends on the method of murder and the social status chosen. Victim (Spalevic & Ilic, 2017).
  8. Trafficking of human organs: Trafficking is another business with deep roots in the dark web. The kidneys, liver, heart, and eyeballs are examples of organs commonly purchased in these black markets (Dange, Malkan & Jha, 2018).
  9. Terrorist activity: The anonymity of this part of the Internet has given a great boost to major terrorist groups around the world. Everything that cannot be done openly on the visible web, from secret communication and promotion to recruitment and training, is done via the dark web (Sui, Caverlee, & Rudesill, 2015). (Weimann, 2016).
  10. Child pornography – The dark web has also become a popular destination for hosting videos on child abuse and child pornography. The Visible Web also faces the problem of illegally hosting such videos, but in this dark underground world, the problem is much more serious. In 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched “Operation Torpedo” for users of three dark websites hosting child pornography videos (Sui, Caverlee & Rudesill, 2015). This underscores the seriousness of this problem.

This highlights the intensity of this problem. The list of illicit activities carried out using Dark Web is endless. Criminals thrive in this secret world because procedures to trace their footprints are complex and tracking them is next to impossible. A key factor responsible for the growth of Dark Web-based crimes is the use of Bitcoin like cryptocurrencies as a mode of payment.


Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that are secured using cryptography methods. Most financial transactions on the Dark Web are carried out through digital currencies like Bitcoin. This is a preferable method of payment because cryptocurrencies ensure the anonymity of the transaction – not
only the amount of money exchanged but also the identities of the involved parties. Together with browsers like TOR and I2P, cryptocurrencies offer a dual-layer of obscurity to the Dark Web domain.

This allows notorious people to trade Bitcoins for anything they want on the Dark Web without getting noticed by the legal authorities. Users who wish to trade via Bitcoin must maintain their Bitcoin wallet (called the Dark Wallet when used on the dark web) either by themselves or through a third party (Piazza, 2016). Bitcoin wallet owners are also expected to receive a special credit card if they want to redeem their Bitcoins. Websites that offer such cards ensure that the source of the transaction remains hidden. Many websites on the dark web use Bitcoin as their sole trading medium. The Silk Road was an example of such a place.

Silk road

The Silk Road was an online marketplace on the dark web. It was developed, owned, and operated by a young programmer named Ross William Ulbricht. To disguise his actual identity, Ross worked under the administrator name “Dread Pirates Roberts”. The Silk Road went into operation in 2011 and has opened up its own niche with its highly specialized website. In a short period of three years, the popularity of this website has increased and more drugs have been listed and made available through them (Bhaskar, Linacre & Machine, 2017). It also offers services such as computer hacking, fake passport sales, driver’s licenses, credit cards, and identification such as social security numbers.

The site also hosted a community forum that provided suggestions on how to avoid the eyes of law enforcement agencies by trading securely on the platform. Only accessible via the TOR network, Silk Road only accepts Bitcoin payments. Between February 2011 and July 2013, approximately 1.2 million transactions from approximately 3,877 unique seller accounts and 147,000 unique buyer accounts were recorded.

Ulbricht’s story

This helped Ulbricht build a huge $1.2 billion empire in such a short period of time. In one of Ulbricht’s interviews with Forbes magazine, he claimed he could never be caught. However, the Silk Road journey ended with the arrest of Ulbricht at the San Francisco Public Library, and the Silk Road was closed in 2013. Ulbricht was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment with no hope of parole.

The severity of this punishment was due to accusations against him, including money laundering, computer hacking, and plots against drug trafficking over the Internet. The Ulbricht incident has become a hot topic, and the popularity of the dark web has skyrocketed among the general public. A month after Ulbricht arrested and closed the Silk Road, Breakbent Hall revived the Silk Road. This time, the business was booming for a year before the owner, Blake Benthall; was arrested and the site was shut down again. An hour later, the portal was back. Silk Road 3.0 is the same as a regular e-commerce platform, but with “less unusual” entries.

According to Dange, Malkan, & JHA, 2018, Bitcoin value was directly affected by Silk Road growth. Bitcoin tripled one month after its creation. This sudden hiking of prizes was focused on investigators and Bitcoin loses about 90% of its value when they started exploring the cause. Silk Road was finally closed, but this was not a simple task for law enforcement agencies. One factor added to that difficulty was the use of bitcoins for executing transactions. The use of digital currency was not limited to silk work. Most black markets use Bitcoin as a preferred payment method. In order to address this mountaineering of Bitcoin, Cybercrime was loaned, and legal executive agencies have started taking strict measures against many famous dark web portal owners/administrators.

Dark web crime retail

Cybercriminals prove a new way to develop the DARK web anonymity developed by Dark Web, and law enforcement agencies have developed new strategies around the world to handle them. Bitcoin and Gate wrap the dark network world into dual anonymous layers, but these layers are as strong as the weakest point. Bitcoin transactions do not contain any personally identifiable information, but there are several other ways dark web criminals can catch them.

For example, medicines purchased online will eventually be delivered to a geographical location via the postal system. This can provide important clues to investigators seeking to catch potential suspects. Another activity that is rapidly gaining the attention of law enforcement agencies is the conversion of large amounts of Bitcoin into fiat currency. One example of this was a police attack in the Netherlands, where 10 men were arrested for redeeming Bitcoin and withdrawing millions of people from ATMs (Bohannon, 2016).

But incidents like those do now no longer manifest often, so regulation enforcement corporations at the side of the studies network have begun focusing their interest on analyzing the styles of Bitcoin transactions to discover infamous individuals on Dark Web platforms. Continous tracking and statistics series of Dark Webs transactions can assist to discover Bitcoin addresses that belong to the equal person/organization if they’re used as entering withinside the equal transaction.

In (Reid & Harrigan, 2013) the authors proposed to apply Directed Acyclic Graphs to symbolize the waft of Bitcoins among customers and transactions to focus on exciting styles of consumer activity. Clustering algorithms primarily based totally on unsupervised systems gaining knowledge of also can assist to isolate Bitcoin addresses with a couple of incoming transactions as belonging to online providers hidden withinside the Dark Web marketplace.


In addition to this, if investigators get entry to suspected Bitcoin wallets, vital facts approximately the owner’s identification and beyond transactions may be without difficulty discovered thru the associated “pockets.dat” file (Turner & Irwin, 2018).

Though analyses of Bitcoin addresses can reveal extensive facts, however, generally a couple of addresses are connected to every pocket, and Bitcoin proprietors have a tendency to apply special addresses for every transaction to boom anonymity. This is an intense obstruction even as clustering Bitcoin transactions and tying them to bodily identities.

More about crime retail

To boom the problem, Bitcoin blending offerings also are provided on the Dark Web with the intention to interrupt the cash path and weaken the hyperlink among transactions and Bitcoin pockets proprietors (Wegberg, Oerlemans, & Deventer, 2018). So investigators have now shifted their interest toward strategies that map Dark Web`s economic transactions to their supply and vacation spot IP addresses. In an attempt to set up this kind of mapping, Philip and Diana Koshy advanced software programs just like the only utilized by Bitcoin providers and shoppers to have interaction with the Bitcoin blockchain.

The economic transactions of anybody interacting thru this software program changed into handy through the Koshys. The couple observed styles withinside the number of transactions being despatched out through positive IP addresses and had been capable of around one thousand Bitcoin addresses to their corresponding IP addresses (Bohannon, 2016). Such IP tracing strategies provide extensive benefit in de-anonymizing cybercriminals that masks at the back of the Dark Web and may be visible as a primary step toward breaking the anonymity provided through TOR. But many times, even those strategies aren’t enough.

Investigators may have to get their hands dirty to clean up the dark web. Law enforcement agencies may have to personally disguise themselves as sellers/buyers of illegal weapons and drugs on dark platforms in order to seduce and engage cybercriminals. If such tactics fail, investigators must use “network investigation techniques” to enhance the game in order to catch the suspect.

This monitoring method helps the investigator remotely install malware on the suspect’s computer and track the suspect’s activity on the dark web without having to physically access the device (Ghappour, 2017). ). The level of anonymity developed by the dark web is not easy to penetrate, and there are examples of cyber criminals being caught by their own negligence. Ultimately, what caught his eye was Robert Ulbricht’s communication on a public forum promoting the Silk Road (Ghappour, 2017).


After all, it’s humans who make mistakes! Law enforcement agencies are doing their best to curb the use of the dark web, but there are legitimate aspects to this world. Legal use of the dark web
There is no doubt that the dark web has become a hotbed of cryptocurrency cybercrime.

However, it was not originally developed for this purpose. There was a noble intention behind its development. And even today, there are many dark web users who are not involved in illegal activities and are using the web for legitimate purposes. These people are taking advantage of the anonymity of the dark web to make positive changes.
Here are some examples:

People living in highly regulated countries often use the anonymity of the dark web to submit ideas and ideas. Innovative ideas in these areas are often undermined, so even individuals or groups seek to communicate with the general public through the dark web platform. For example, Facebook has launched a version of its website on the TOR network to serve users in countries that ban Facebook. This version is available at https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/ and allows people to communicate with each other with a higher level of protection from surveillance.


• Journalists and whistleblowers also use the dark web to reveal information that needs to be in the public eye but remains obscured. They use the dark web to anonymously emphasize important information and incidents without fear of political oversight or oppression. In 2010, TOR received the Free Software Foundation’s Social Benefits Project Award for supporting whistleblowers and human rights advocates (Sui, Caverlee & Rudesill, 2015).

• Bloggers, authors, and other creative people who are afraid of censorship on the surface web are becoming frequent users of the dark web.

Celebrities and the general public who do not want to leave a mark on the Internet, such as identity, search history, location, etc., are active users of the dark web.

Researchers, students, and faculty who want access to the vast knowledge resources available on the dark web are also accessing this part of the web for legitimate purposes. Many scientific discoveries that are not published on the surface web can be easily found on the dark web (Dange, Malkan & Jha, 2018). Such people view the dark web as a sanctuary that provides anonymity, freedom of speech, and privacy. This aspect of the dark web is rarely emphasized, but it was the only reason for its development.


The dark web is part of the worldwide web that is neither crawled by traditional search engines nor accessed via URLs through traditional web browsers. You will need to use special software and configurations to enter and navigate this part of the web. Exploring dark web content also takes a lot of time and patience. However, users usually pay the price for privacy in this underground digital world. This need for privacy has attracted the attention of people who do not want to be tracked while surfing the web, but who cannot find a way to track it on the surface web.

The dark web seems to be a good option for them. But dark web anonymity is a double-edged sword-it all depends on how you use it. People seeking online anonymity come from different parts of the world and have different intents. Favorable use of the dark web acts as a medium to ensure your online privacy. But maliciously, it can be a playground for criminals. Therefore, like any other invention, the dark web has its own strengths and weaknesses. It can prove to be very useful or disastrous depending upon its application. The manner in which it is utilized, ultimately decides whether Dark Web is helpful or not.


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