The dark web is one of those topics of interest that have engulfed not only teenagers but sexagenarians or hexagenerians and even older people irrespective of gender. The group of people who believe in having the best cybersecurity practices such as anonymity and security is the one most drawn towards the dark web. Having said this, there are a couple of misconceptions about the hidden phase that has curdled the name to some extent.
While finding out about what exactly is the dark web, we have come across a definition provided by Wikipedia that describes the dark web to be any web content requiring specific software, authorization to access, and configurations. This definition somehow overlaps with another related term, that is the “deep web”. The deep web is commonly described as all the parts of the internet that are not indexed by any search engines.
In this article, we will try to highlight some of the realities and break some myths that people often tend to possess. Let’s have a look at the facts of the dark web.
Realities Of The Dark Web and Some Common Myths Busted
Since the dark web has been consistently referred to as the dark side of the internet, people tend to rear some misconceptions. These misconceptions may at some point hinder the potentiality of the dark web, causing people to avoid or spread rumors about it. In this segment, we have focussed on busting some of the many myths and helping people know what the real dark web is.
🞑 Myth 1: The Dark Web And The Deep Web Are Same
☞ Fact: The Terms Sound “Similar” But Are Rather Different On Functionality
If you have closely researched the dark web and deep web, you may have found out various blogs and articles using the terms dark web and deep web interchangeably. Why do they do that? The reason behind this is that both indicate the dark zone of the internet or the World Wide Web (WWW).
Take, for example, two terms “School” and “Collegiate School”. The former is an institution where students opt for education from the pre-primary to the twelfth standard after which they shift to a proper College where they completed their Graduation. On the contrary, the latter one means a campus where a school and a college both co-exists under the same name. This means that the students passing out from the school of the campus can get admitted to the college of the same campus or move to a different College. Since both of them come under a similar umbrella that is “School”, people often miss out on the term “Collegiate”.
The same is the case with the dark web and the deep web. Yes, both of them fall under the same umbrella “Hidden Internet”, but on functionality, they are quite different. While the dark web is primarily focused on the trades of illegal goods and services, chat forums, hack forums and a lot more similar stuff, the deep web has been acting as the storehouse of crucial information like the database of companies, research papers, journal documentaries, etc.
🞑 Myth 2: The Dark Web Occupies Huge Space In the Internet
☞ Fact: The Dark Web Is Just A Tiny Fragment Of the Internet
The dark web has often been described or portrayed as an enormous and mysterious zone of the internet that houses a vast number of the .onion sites on the Tor network. But what the research has yielded is that the dark web is merely a fragment of the internet. On various websites, you could find that the dark web, the deep web, and the surface web or the clearnet has been given a shape of a floating iceberg with a small portion out of the water and a larger one inside. In reality, it is just the opposite, we would say. The dark web is the smallest bit of the deep web where the deep web covers the majority of the internet.
A stat on the surface web sites and the dark web sites or dark web links state that about 200 unique active clearnet domains are present while the live onion network currently is less than 0.005% of the actual size of the World Wide Web. Also, it has been reported that the onion sites are tightly connected. This refers to the fact that if one visits the Hidden Wiki website on the Tor browser, that individual is just three clicks away from 82% of the active onion sites.
🞑 Myth 3: The Dark Web Is Organized
☞ Fact: The Dark Web Is Highly Disorganized and Unreliable At The Same Time
The dark web is covered with flakiness. The onion sites highly advocate criminal activity, including scams and cyber attacks. When the darknet sites fall victim to cyberattacks, the servers of the onion websites are taken down. One of the famous examples is Daniel’s Hosting. A significant breach back in 2018 had let an enormous number of websites experience downtime for a reasonable period. However, everything was restored, but it took a lot of days. This would be more destructive for the websites on the clear web.
On keeping a real close watch on the onion URLs, you would find several copies of a legit dark web website. These copies are a result of typosquatting attacks. Typosquatting refers to a famous tactic that is implemented by hackers on the surface web and now on the darknet as well, where a malicious actor registers a domain similar to the legitimate website. The users might mistake the copied site with the legit one, and thus through the spoofed site, they get scammed. A typosquatting website might have a URL such as an apple[.]co or aple[.]co in place of the actual website domain, and people often miss out on one or more alphabets or the domain extension even.
The victims end up revealing their credentials on the fake websites, and the scammers take advantage of this. They use those credentials to cash out money or purchase products in their names. After the scammers are done with benefiting themselves from the fake website, they migrate to other created counterfeit websites for carrying out more scams. The previous website is then closed. Some of the well-known Bitcoin mixers and dark web markets have been included in the typosquat victims’ list.
Typosquatting is much more feasible on the dark web than on the clear web. The reason behind this is the domains of the onion websites that are basically hashes, which refers to a string of characters appearing entirely random to a human user. Take, for example, an onion domain — nytimes3xbfgragh.onion — the onion website of a central news portal, The New York Times. These types of dark web links do not visually correspond to the website that it loads and it makes it pretty hard for the users to differentiate between a real and a fake website.
🞑 Myth 4: The Dark Web Uses Homogenous Usage of Language
☞ Fact: The Dark Web Has The Similar Language Grip As That Of The Surface Web
As the surface web has a division in the languages where English is the most used language, followed by other languages like Russian, German and Spanish, the languages on the darknet are also classified in a similar manner. The language English accounts for 86% and is the primary language in the onion websites. Russian accounts for 2.8%, German accounts for 1.6% and Spanish is the least accounting for 1%. This statistics is based on the top four languages used on the dark web. Other languages follow these four and are less than 1%.
🞑 Myth 5: The Deep Web Links Are Completely Free To Access
☞ Fact: Some Deep Web Links Are Not Free To Access
It has been seen that 95% of the deep web sites links are absolutely free to access and use. But the rest 5% of the deep web links are not free to use. You may open the websites on the browser, but you would not be able to enjoy their complete service. These websites include subscription content such as the membership website and newspaper sites.
These are all of the most common misconceptions that people usually have about the deep web and the dark web. Hence, there is so much confusion regarding the hidden part of the internet. We have made sure to cover all the touchpoints to eradicate the myths associated with the darknet in general. Hope we have busted the myths and brought to light the actual truth or fact that is often overlooked.