Going Underground: the secret world of the Deep Web

We can only see 10% of the internet, the rest is invisible “Deep Web”. Is this really full of drug dealers, pornography and hitmen?


What is “Deep Web”?

Let’s face it; the internet is vast. Type a phrase into Google (other search engines are available) – it tells you how many results link to that phrase. Even searching your own name can find tens of thousands of results (try it!)

However, what many people don’t know is that what we see is only the tip of the iceberg.

Only around 10% of the internet is “indexed”, which means search engines like Google and Bing can find it.

The other 90% of “hidden” content is the Deep Web.

The deep web has received a lot of negative press recently. Various articles focus on how it is full of dodgy illegal sites selling drugs, passports and weapons. As we’ll see, this isn’t providing the full story.


How does Deep Web work?

Deep Web: a laptop screen, password typed in

Password protected; most pages accessed via a password are part of the deep web

When we google something we’re actually searching an index. Think: a massive library of different web pages.

Stuff like your email inbox, online banking and website databases can’t be indexed. Anything which you go through a login page to access.

Deep web is more difficult to index as information is stored on databases, not specific web pages. Put simply: it’s hidden. With us so far?

So if most of the deep web is just harmless private material, why all the bad press? It’s all to do with people using it to become anonymous. It’s time to go underground;

Now you see me, now you don’t

Deep Web: a tracker puts her nose to the ground and sniffs

Using normal servers means your online activity can be tracked

When you visit a website using a regular browser you access the website data direct from that webpage.

This is quick, but your location and information you download is logged.

Meaning people (the government) can track where you are and what you look at. Creepy or what?

In the 1990s the US government developed a programme for anonymous file sharing.

They called it “Tor”, short for “The Onion Router” (we’ll explain the name, we promise).


This is how Tor accesses the deep web;

Scene from Goldeneye where Natalia tries to access deep web to reach Boris

Tor bounces your request from country to country; making it hard to trace

First you make a request to find a web page. The request to find the intended destination is wrapped in layers of encryption or code – like the skin of an onion. Onion layers, onion router – those computer guys sure had some wordplay skills.

Instead of going direct to the web page your request is bounced randomly across a network relay of computers all across the globe.

As your request arrives at a new location a level of encryption is unlocked. All the relay computer sees are instructions to send the request on to the next location.

In real world language; bouncing across different locations makes it near impossible to trace the user. Meaning you become anonymous. There’s even a version for smartphones. Ooooh, exciting.

Yes, using deep web to surf the web anonymously is legal. However, if you use it for illegal activity… well, go figure.

Is Deep Web the same as “Dark Web”?

Yes, and no. There’s a lot of confusion as “deep” and “dark” sound pretty similar, and lots of people use the terms interchangeably.


Screen shot of Deep Web site Silk road selling drugs, weapons and porn

Silk Road: the Amazon of the deep web.

The dark web is actually a section of the deep web. Dark web is used to describe a specific group of websites which use Tor encryption to hide their location.

Whilst dark web is part of the deep web, it is very different. Simples.

The most famous dark web site was Silk Road, described by the press as “Amazon for criminals”.

It was an anonymous online marketplace selling anything from illegal drugs to plastic explosive.

There’s even been reports of hitmen offering their services on the deep web. Mostly drugs though… or so we hear.

Deep Web: a gif of a cat in a pirate suit

If the deep web isn’t all drugs and porn… does this mean it’s all cat pictures?

Before it was closed by the authorities Silk Road users paid for their goods using an online currency called BitCoin. Rumoured to be the “next big thing” in the currency world, BitCoin also offers some anonymity if you’re clever with computers.

Is the majority of the web filled with pornography, hitmen and drugs? Not really. It’s been estimated that the dark web makes up only 0.01% of the internet.

So although 90% of the internet is deep web, only a tiny fraction of this is naughty sites like Silk Road.

Why all the fuss over people being anonymous?

With stories about spy agencies intercepting images from people’s webcams it’s no surprise that some of us want a little more privacy. Going anonymous can give us that.

Deep Web: activitists in guy fawkes masks protest against internet censorship

Activists use the deep web to spread their message

Despite creating Tor the US government now wants it shut down to stop criminals trading anonymously on the deep web. Oh, the irony.

Yet the dark web isn’t just used by criminals.

Activists and journalists working in China and other countries with strict censorship laws use Tor and deep web to spread their message.

Even Facebook got in on the act. It created a dark web version of the site for those living in countries like Syria and China which ban Facebook.

The website Wikileaks was set up by activist Julian Assange to expose government and corporate misconduct. It used deep web encryption so that whistleblowers could anonymously supply evidence.

The problem: though some see whistleblowers and activists as freedom fighters, others see them as lawbreakers.

Seems like this argument will continue going round in circles.


Deep Web learnings; the internet is not just for porn.

Think we missed something? Let us know sor@scenesofreason.com.

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The difference between sounding cool and being cool: Hacking explained.

What is a computer hacker?

Computer Hackers look for gaps and weaknesses in computer code (that’s the stuff which makes your laptop work) and break in. They can do this to cause harm, steal personal details like your banking PIN number or just simply to have fun. Some hackers work to improve computer security by exposing the flaws in the technology. Yes, you heard that right.

It’s tough being a Millennial. We were born just on the cusp of the computer revolution. Nowadays, kids in primary schools are being taught to code and hacking groups like Anonymous and the South Korea Hacker gangs are hitting the headlines.

In recent years a whole hacking culture has evolved. So, if you technically want to be a hacker, TECHNICALLY, what would that entail?

If it seems complex, well that’s because it is.

How to become a computer hacker in three not so easy steps:

200-11) Choose a TYPE of hacking. Yes there are different kinds.

Contrary to popular belief, hackers aren’t just criminals or geeks. There are many different types of hackers. There are “White Hats”, “Black Hats” and even “Grey Hats”. Hackers love hats.

Not really. The colour of hat just shows why you are hacking. For example White Hats hack to find weaknesses in order to improve them. Black Hats generally do it to cause trouble. And Grey Hats sit in the middle. They will look for websites or companies to hack for fun, but will sometimes offer to fix the problem. For a fee of course. Hackers gotta eat just like the rest of us.

You’ll start out as a “Noob” or newbie, and then work your way up. Work hard and you could become an Elite Hacker.

Or if that seems like a massive effort you could just become a “Script Kiddie”. They are hackers who use code written by other hackers. Takes all sorts I suppose.


2002) Choose a method of hacking

Now you’ve chosen the type of hacker you want to be, you need to find a way to access other people’s computers.

The most common hack is a Virus. If this gets into your computer it basically tries to screw everything. It attaches itself to a programme like Word or Excel. Every time you run that programme the virus will reproduce and spread through the computer. Viruses slow down the computer and eventually cause it to crash.

Another type is a “Trojan”. Just like a Trojan Horse, this pretends to be doing something else whilst accessing your data. Trojans are often hidden in downloads like games or music. When you try to play the game, the Trojan deletes everything on your computer.

If you want to find passwords you might choose to use a “Logger”. Hint: it’s nothing to do with lumberjacks. Loggers record what you type. Get it into someone’s computer and when they enter a password, you get a record of what they write.

The most common way of trying to get viruses and other programmes onto another computer is through email. So when you receive another email saying you’re owed $220,000 from “your good friend” it’s probably a good idea not to open it.

There are many other ways to hack into computers. “Brute Force” attacks go through password combinations and “Worms” can spread to different computers using shared connections like Wi-Fi.


200-23) Learn from the best and maybe try to stay away from the criminal hacking activity?

Hacker culture is massive. So if you want to be the best, you gotta learn from the best. If you don’t fancy trawling seedy internet chatrooms you can go on legal hacking courses. Big companies allow hackers to take part in a “penetration test”. Sounds kind of dirty but it just means they let you hack them to test their security.


Why are we talking about this?

We recently learnt about a hacking “nation state”. These are groups of hackers who work together to achieve the same goal. A group called “The Guardians of Peace” decided they had beef with film company Sony. You would have heard of this but why? Sony was about to release a film which was about two Americans killing the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

We don’t know why Guardians of Peace took a dislike to this. But whatever the reason they hacked Sony and released some controversial emails from Sony bosses. Some of whom have had to quit.

One man’s freedom of speech is another’s shame. 200-3

The suspicion fell on North Korea, but it’s not been proved they were involved. However a man who escaped from North Korea, yes we said escaped, has claimed they have an army of hackers waiting to do serious damage to anyone who crosses them. Should we believe it? Who knows. 

Guardians of Peace might see themselves as “hacktivists”. These are computer hackers who infiltrate computers or systems for a social or political reason.


What we learned today: Hacking appears to only be associated with criminal activity, we should broaden our horizons and if you’re curious dive in and save the online world!

Is hacking basically online mugging?  Answers below please.