Let us begin by understanding what the Dark Web is.
The Internet can be considered to be made up of three levels. The “Surface Web” is the publicly visible portion of the internet that can be accessed with a simple web browser (such as Chrome, Firefox) and a reliable search engine (such as Google, Bing). This includes all types of websites that we use in our daily lives. It will be surprising for you to know that the Surface Web makes up only about 4% of the internet.
The next level is called the “Deep Web” which is the hidden web and contains the majority of the internet. It includes web pages that are not indexed by search engines because either the search engines failed to index those pages, or they are considered irrelevant to be indexed. The Deep Web includes the following:
- Web pages that require login access
- Web pages that are not indexed by search engines
- Secure cloud storage that is accessible only through verified credentials
- Intranets that are implemented by organizations such as governments, private companies, businesses, etc.
Finally comes the Dark Web which is a small portion of the Deep Web and can be accessed only by using specialized software, tools, and authorization protocols. Content present on the Dark Web is not indexed by search engines. Dark Web differs from Deep Web in the sense that while content on the Deep Web is not indexed due to its irrelevant nature, the content on the Dark Web wants to stay hidden. Moreover, web pages on the Dark Web are considered highly unsecure and can not be accessed through web browsers such as Chrome, Opera, Firefox, etc.
Now that you have understood what Dark Web is, let us discuss the Pros and Cons of the Dark Web.
Pros of Dark Web
- Knowledge – The Deep Web is a treasure-trove of information and knowledge. It has some of the largest virtual libraries, more than you can possibly fathom. The knowledge available on the Deep Web is often accessed by teachers, students, and researchers as it is not so readily available on standard search engines. Scientific data that has been kept hidden from the public eye can be easily found in the Deep Web by spending some time researching about it.
- Anonymity – While some consider anonymity to be a double-edged sword, it should be appreciated positively as it results in freedom. Browsers that are used to access the Dark Web, such as Tor, are secure as they guarantee that your IP address remains untraceable. To make it more secure, always use Tor with an underlying VPN.
- Freedom of Speech – As discussed in the preceding point, freedom of speech is one of the most important freedoms that are a direct consequence of anonymity. Some countries practice the right to freely express your thoughts and opinion very strongly without fearing any form of persecution. This right still remains a utopia for most of the world. Dark Web allows users to freely communicate without fearing law enforcement or government agencies as the communication is encrypted and IP addresses are masked to protect their identity.
- Political Activism – 21st century has seen a rise in right-wing oppressive governments around the world that are trying to curtail opposition and free speech. For such regimes, information control is a powerful tool and they track the movements and activities of their citizens on the internet. In many countries, governments are at the liberty to block certain websites as per their choosing, mostly done for social media websites. To counter this, you can use browsers such as Tor that allow users to access even the blocked websites and denounce the oppressive governments.
Cons of Dark Web
- Drugs and Banned Substances – The Dark Web is a safe haven for illegal activities related to the drug and contraband trade. One of the most well-known marketplaces for weapons, drugs, and other illegal stuff, was the Silk Road and was available on the Dark Web. As a user, you should be very careful while accessing the Dark Web as one can be easily influenced by the easy availability of such items which will eventually land them into trouble.
- Child Pornography – Child pornography is rampant on the Dark Web. We are not proud of it but it is a reality. There are literally gigabytes of child porn being traded on the dark web every day. You should avoid such websites as it is not ethically or morally correct to be a part of them.
- Hitmen for Hire – Along with buying weapons on the Dark Web, you can also find hitmen for hire that are willing to take up a contract for some dollars. This activity is going on in the Dark Web with complete impunity as there is no oversight.
Having studied both the Pros and the Cons of using the Dark Web, it is up to us as responsible users to make the correct use of the Dark Web.