Dark web. The deepest layer of the internet. Technically, it belongs to deep web and contains about 6 % of the internet overall content (6 % from the 96 % that deep web has). Pages on darkweb are not indexed in normal search engines and are not accessible through normal web browser. You'll need a special browser to access dark web (see Tor). The address of darkweb pages is also different - first, the address itself looks like a random mix of letters and numbers, and second, they have different domain. Normally, internet pages ends with .com, .net, .cz, .org and so on, but all darkweb pages ends with .onion . For example:


This is the address of The Hidden Wiki, one of the most renowned darkweb pages. If you try open it in normal web browser like Chrome, it won't show anything (it will show nxdomain error), but if you try it in Tor, you will be transferred to The Hidden Wiki main page.

The dark web is decentralized. This means that there isn't any central server that would contain all the data. Instead, the data are stored on thousands servers all around the world, and all of them are run by volunteers. The upside of this is that it is virtually impossible to forcefully shut down decentralized organization, because you would need to gain control over vast majority of the servers in very short time, and even if you managed to perform this, it should still be able to run on the remaining servers. But, there are also downsides - upgrading or implementing a new feature on a decentralized organization is not easy and it takes a lot of time.

Searching something on darkweb is slightly more complicated than on surface web. As I've mentioned above, normal search engines like Google doesn't index .onion pages. However, DuckDuckGo, the default search engine of Tor browser, does (specifically, DuckDuckGo has an .onion version that will do the trick). Alternatively, you can try one of search engines designed specifically for darkweb, like Torch, Ahmia, Not Evil or Onion Land (find more about those here).

Dark web offers its users a high level of anonymity. This of course means that it will be misused for all sorts of illegal activity. There are even darknet markets with all sorts of illegal goods: weapons, drugs, child pornography, fake IDs, stolen credit cards, assassinations etc. Of course you are not paying using 'normal' fiat money, all the transactions are in cryptocurrencies, mostly in Bitcoin or in Monero, which is specifically designed to be 100 % anonymous. Quite famous is the story of Silk Road, one of the first modern darknet markets, which was created by Ross Ulbricht (aka Dread Pirate Roberts) in February 2011, and before FBI shut it down in October 2013, more than 1,2 million transactions happened there, most of which were drugs. Since then, many more darkweb markets were created, for example AlphaBay, Agora, Andromeda, Dream Market etc. Most of those have already been taken down, but you know how it goes - where is demand, there will also be supply and when one darkweb market is taken down, three more will immediately replace it.

However, not everything happening on the dark web is evil. For people in countries with internet censorship or/and non-democratic regimes, dark web is pretty much the only way to get to uncensored news. Many activists groups have their page on darkweb and are communicating through it. Police and detectives can receive anonymous tips helpful for their investigations. And we could find many more examples. Darkweb simply offers its users anonymity, which can be used to either positive or negative effects. 

This page was created by Jan Havlíček in January 2021 as a final project from subject 2SE307 (FMV, VŠE Praha) 
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