It seems like we are caught up in a wave of ‘deep web’ hysteria. There is a default position that if something is hidden, it has to be hiding something bad or evil. A natural conclusion I guess, but one fanned by media hysteria. I Googled ‘deep web’ recently and there were all sorts of stories about people who had purchased drugs on the deep web, people who had accessed hardcore porn etc – all the negative, illegal activities that you could possibly imagine are apparently all located on the deep web. Really?? My response was to investigate further, as we all know, something that is hidden or cannot be seen or judged, can easily have mud thrown at it – it cannot be disproved, or defended because it cannot be seen. So in a spirit of “what is this really all about” I decided to go have a look.
So what is the deep web? Put simply it is a group of websites that hide their IP addresses, thereby remaining hidden. They hide their identity by using a Tor encryption.
Tor encryption is a nifty little tool – apart from being a deep web browser, it lets you hide your identity or spoof your location. When you watch blockbuster movies or TV shows with ‘hackers’ bouncing identities all over the web or hiding their IP or identities, they would be using a Tor encryption program – make sense? The focus on deep web and its spike in media commentary has arisen out of a growing awareness of agencies monitoring our online activities and the realization that everything you do on the Internet can be tracked, observed and monitored. This has resulted in more users moving offline into the deep web. There are a few steps to accessing the deep web; you need to download Tor and configure your browsers to use it, then you type in the web address you wish to access and you are taken there – pretty simple, but the hardest part of all of this is knowing these addresses. I’ve found a few different sites that list some of these so you need to look around or talk to people to find out what is popular or interesting. An interesting fact, all of the sites in deep web have .onion as their domain. So if you find addresses with .onion in their URL, you know you are looking at a deep web address.
There is a huge amount of illegal, disturbing stuff in the deep web. But its not all that’s in there- I am guessing (and hoping) that these are being monitored by government agencies. How they are doing that I wouldn’t know, but I hope they are. All of these negative sites make me nervous about even being in there, I actually don’t see the point of taking the risk and being in deep web.
The idea of the deep web is what I find most interesting, its almost an evolutionary step in the internet and how we use it – we are certainly living in an internet-based world, the sheer volume of users and the development of programs to search and find illegal activities has driven some of these underground into the deep web, but the emergence of the deep web is also a reaction to all of this scrutiny and monitoring. A catch 22 I guess? I think it will be only a matter of time, if it hasn’t already happened, that the monitoring of illegal activities in deep web and the tracking down of individuals who participate in them will happen. Rightly so.