The dark web, the dark Internet. While these are different terms, they all refer to the same thing: a hidden, unindexed network of sites that can only be found by those in the know. The dark web is a network of unindexed websites, built on special networks that have restricted access or require special software. The fact that these sites are unindexed mean that they do not show up on major search engines, such as Google. So, unless you know where to look, the likelihood of you finding a dark website is fairly slim.
While dark web websites are not necessarily illegal, they tend to be used to sell illegal things, such as drugs. Payment for the goods in these markets is usually bitcoin, a unique digital currency.
The dark web also hosts a number of forums, personal websites, and even special social networks where users can share information of all types.
How the Dark Web Works
Because the dark web is meant to be hidden from the general public and search engines, it usually requires a special browser or another form of software. The most popular of these types of sites are the Tor, or ‘The Onion Router,’ which use a .onion domain. The software and browsers that are used to view dark web websites hide your IP address and other data, making it difficult for your location and private information to be hacked.
Other popular dark web networks include I2P and Freenet, which work in similar ways to Tor and have many similar sites.
The Silk Roads
While the Silk Roads may be used to refer to an ancient network of trade routes, it has taken on a different meaning in modern history. The Silk Roads refers to one of the earliest and most well-known dark web websites. It was originally launched in 2011, but had been in development for many months prior, and was a large market for people to buy and sell different illegal goods, particularly drugs.
Two years after the site initially launched, in October 2013, the FBI managed to finally find and arrest the creator and shut down the website. However, just a month later a new version of the site was launched, but it too was shut down by the FBI the following year, and the new creator was also arrested. The man behind the original Silk Road website, Ross William Ulbricht, had 8 different charges brought against him in a U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
While the dark web is an intriguing concept, it is also something to be extremely careful with. Many dark web websites contain illegal content that the government is attempting to track and shut down, just as they did with Ulbricht’s Silk Road. So, it is crucial to always use caution should you still be curious about the dark web.