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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Cheaters gonna cheat: Doping and Performance Enhancing Drugs Explained

Performance Enhancing Drugs = Drugs to enhance your performance.

doping performance enhancing drugs, hormones cause big muscles, man pretends to have muscles attractive woman joins him on screen

Hormone Growth increase muscle size…#bodygoals

It’s in the name.

Athletes use Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) to improve sporting performance. They are also given to racing animals like horses and dogs. Like Viagra; but for sport.

There are many different types of PEDs. Peptide Hormones and Human Growth Hormone increase muscle size. So these are your poisons of choice if you want big guns and extra strength.
Anabolic Agents generate testosterone. This is a sex hormone and has an effect on growth. It’s also what causes men to get aggressive and competitive. Rawr.

To quote Will.i.am: “That’s Dope”

doping performance enhancing drugs, dope doping, little cartoon dog sits on a chair with dope hat on his head looking sad

Doping in sport is illegal and can have some serious side effects! DOPE!

Blood Doping refers to techniques which increase the amount of red blood cells in the body, these cells contain oxygen. More oxygen means better stamina and performance. This helps in long endurance sports like cycling or long distance running.

The Blood Doping process adds more Erythropoietin (EPO). This is a hormone created naturally in the body which creates more red blood cells. Another method is to inject new fresh blood into the body that already contains more red blood cells. You go stronger, for longer. #Winning

If you’re using PEDs, expect the Feds

Doping and Performance Enhancing Drugs give an unfair advantage to those who use them. So you won’t be surprised to hear they are illegal in sport.

Part of the problem is that new drugs are constantly cooked up. Doping tests check your blood and urine for traces of drugs. However if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for it can be easy to miss things.

Athletes can also dodge the tests by using diuretics, which boost the production of urine to flush the drugs out of the system after they have competed. Oh, it’s a glamorous life.


Are Performance Enhancing Drugs dangerous?

doping performance enhancing drugs, doping is illegal and if you are caught you could have your medals taken away, baby is scared and looks very cute and sad

Is taking Performance Enhancing Drugs worth the risk of loosing your medals?

Take Performance Enhancing Drugs and you risk serious damage to your body. Acne, liver damage, impotence and depression are just a few of the side effects. Also how does losing your sight, severe migraines and the possibility of a heart attack entice you?

Doping has its own risks such as contracting a virus from a blood transfusion.

And if you’re caught Doping or taking Performance Enhancing Drugs you risk losing all your titles and a long ban from the sport. Those medals better be worth it.

Why are we talking about this?

This week the coach of Olympic medal winner Mo Farah has been accused of Doping activity. Farah himself has not been implicated; he pulled out of a race to fly to the USA to get some answers.

One of the most famous cases of sport Doping was with Lance Armstrong. Seven times winner of cycling contest Le Tour De France; he was dogged by allegations of Doping throughout his career. With Armstrong it was a case of you can ride, but you can’t hide. His illegal activities got busted after years of investigations. Armstrong was given a lifetime ban from professional cycling and his titles were stripped from him. He also lost all his sponsorship deals pretty much overnight, which he describes as a “75 million dollar day”. Ouch.


Is there an argument for Doping?

doping performance enhancing drugs, everyone is doing it, man jumps on a literal bandwagon

Lance, just because everyone is doing it… doesn’t mean you have to jump on the bandwagon!

One of Lance Armstrong’s excuses was that everyone was doing it. Sounds like a poor excuse, but if you want to be in sport, you want to win; and if the winners are all using PEDS, it’s easy to see how competitors might be convinced to try.

Nowadays anti-drug operations in sport have increased. Random drugs tests are the norm. Most sports demand that competitors give exact details of their whereabouts and be available for a spot-check at all times . But is this enough?




The word on the street

Twitter reaction to doping and performance enhancing drugs

Twitter storm on the new doping allegations

Learnings: Doping is nothing to do with smoking Weed.

Would you use Performance Enhancing Drugs in order to win?




HIV and The £30 Test: Explained


We live by the motto “better to be safe than sorry” but will the release of a HIV Self Test Kit help lower the number of people who are unaware they are infected, or just increase paranoia throughout the country? Scenes of Reason decodes HIV and asks whether people should have to pay to get checked…


The Story

For the first time, people will be able to purchase a HIV self test kit to use at home. It’s the first time you’ll be able to buy testing kits which have been legally certified for home use. Unlike other HIV tests they don’t need to be sent off to a lab to get results.

The tests will give a result in 15 minutes, although anybody testing positive must go to their doctor to be diagnosed again. It is supposed to be 99.7% accurate.


What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the body’s immune system, which is the system in your body which protects you from disease and illness. HIV is transmitted through blood and other bodily fluids. It can be caught by having sex without a condom, or by sharing infected needles. So, when it comes to sharing needles – just, no.

There is no cure to HIV but treatment exists enabling most people with the virus to live for a long time and remain healthy. However, it is extremely important to diagnose the virus sooner rather than later. HIV can lead to AIDS which stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. At this stage the body cannot fight off infections. Sufferers are left extremely weak and in danger of death from illnesses such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and some cancers among others.


Use the HIV Self Test Kit to check your status

It’s important to get diagnosed as soon as possible – a HIV self test kit will hopefully help this


Time to de-bunk some myths about HIV/AIDS:

HIV does NOT just affect gay men. Anyone can catch HIV – male or female, young or old, gay, straight or bi-sexual. AIDS is a problem ALL across the world – not just Africa. Although AIDS is undoubtedly a problem in Africa, it is a worldwide issue.

You don’t need to be sexually promiscuous to contract HIV. Apart from unprotected sex there are other ways the virus can be transmitted – i.e. from contaminated needles, and in some cases from mother to child (however the good news is that with proper treatment you can significantly reduce the risk of this occurring). Now we’ve got that cleared up…



What are the Symptoms?

When infected by HIV most people experience flu-like symptoms for 2-6 weeks, after which most people experience no further symptoms for years. Most commonly people will complain of a sore throat, fever, a rash on the body and sometimes tiredness and swollen glands. Around 26,000 people are estimated to have the virus and be unaware of it, leading to the spread of the disease.

More information on HIV/ AIDS


HIV Self Test Kit – What do I have to do?

HIV self test kit uses blood to test for anti bodies

Blood is taken to test for anti-bodies, which is how you test for HIV. With the HIV self test kit you will be able to get results withing 15 minutes

The HIV Self Test Kit is the product of BioSURE UK, a company which specialises in testing solutions. If you get infected with HIV your body will try to fight it by producing anti-bodies (special types of protein made by white blood cells to kill off invading viruses). HIV tests search for these anti-bodies in your blood. If it finds traces of these anti-bodies two purple lines appear, which indicates the user is HIV positive.

The HIV self test kit costs £29.95 and can be purchased from the BioSURE website and via the NHS.



HIV Self Test Kit – The Small Print

Anything which assists diagnosis and lowers the risk of death is obviously a good thing. Although the accuracy is high, it is not 100% and the HIV self test kit may not pick up infections that have happened recently within last three months. BioSURE have also acknowledged this:

“the BioSURE HIV self-test may not detect recent HIV infection as it can take up to three months for the level of antibodies to become detectable,” – Brigette Bard, the founder of BioSure

Therefore if you think you have or are at risk of catching HIV you should go to your doctor and get checked as soon as possible. And if you use the HIV Self Test Kit and are confirmed positive – you must also go to your doctor to be re-tested. HIV charities have supported the launch of the product but have also re-enforced the need to improve access to support for those who have been diagnosed. HIV testing is provided by the National Health Service (NHS) free of charge to anyone. Some clinics also get your results back to you on the same day. Many major news outlets failed to mention this in their reports.


A HIV self test kit checks for HIV in the blood

The Debate

The home kit will hopefully increase the number of people getting checked out, and therefore lower the number of people dying from HIV related illnesses. All good then, unless you test positive and you have to go to the doctors anyway.

However –  “Flu-like Symptoms” is a pretty broad description – are we going to see a load of “man-flu” sufferers panicking and running out to buy the kit? Does more need to be done to educate people about the virus?

And how do you feel about having to pay £30, when the NHS provides a free service? Is it more important that the NHS should receive enough funding to continue and improve its service?


All valid questions – but what do you think? Should people have to pay to get a HIV Self Test Kit? Let us know what you think.