Since you have read the article on the INTERNET, you now know how the computers are interconnected with each other. Now, we need to send data, specifically we need to send what we want to send- mail (Text), Images (Photo), Videos, etc. Before all this let’s understand what is World Wide Web.
In 1960, Advanced Research Agency (ARPA) for defense founded out advanced protocol to interconnect connected computers using digital communication. This network was small (Connected 5-10 computers), initially used for research and academic purposes. But by this, a wide variety of networks were created with different protocols. So later on stage, people wanted to connect with each other through connected networks. In order to do this, the network must use the exact same protocol. This lead to the invention of a common protocol- TCP/IP.
Networks can be private, public, academic, business or government. To make use of our network (Inter connected computers), a wide variety of services was created- mobile apps, electronic mail, file sharing, world wide web, online multiplayer games, internet telephony, etc. As you can see, the world Wide Web is one among the many services the Internet is providing.
World Wide Web, commonly known as www. It is commonly used service in the internet, allowing people to search, get, share data to name a few. Web is like a virtual system which interconnects resources on internet via hyperlinks referenced with URL (Uniform Resource Locator). We use web browser like chrome, safari, Mozilla to get access to these resources.
The resources are in the form of websites and webpages. These are created using HTML (for the structure of the webpage), CSS (for the styling of the webpage), JAVA (working of the webpage). The resource data is saved and stored in servers and these servers are always connected to the internet. By this, any interconnected system can access the data stored in the server.
A website address lets you get where you want to go. This information on a webpage or website is in HTML and CSS language. This language is in the form of code. Our browser will take all this code in the website and turn it into images, graphics, texts, videos, etc. thus creating a graphical interface for us.
Think about www as a big city where all the sky scrapers are servers and each server communicates with each other through codes and our browser helps us to translate this code. Just like no one owns a big city, no one owns the web. Just about anyone can come and setup their shop (business website). We might have to pay Internet service providers to gain internet access, a hosting server (building) to rent space for your business and a registrar (Domain) to register your address (Domain name). These companies provide crucial service but in the end even they don’t own the web.
Tim Berners Lee- Father of the World Wide Web. Prior to the internet, the information was used in a linear path. Like a book reading in a linear manner from top to bottom. But this is not how our brains works. Our each emotion is interconnected with other emotions (see image) and again connected to other emotions like a web. The father of www understood this and figured out a way to accomplish this. The web accomplishes this through hyperlinks. By linking several pages in a website by redirecting you to other websites there by expanding the information. Hyperlinks allows the web to work in the same manner as our brain (thoughts).
If internet is not there, you will not get access to any apps (Whatsapp, Facebook, etc), file sharing, etc. but if web is not there, you will only be restricted with page with “www”. Although this is a big portion of the internet. So www is inside (subset) of bigger internet.
One of the main problem with internet is its traceability. No matter what you do, from where you do, your action and thing which you do on internet can be traced back to you. This raised a concern on primary of user.
Onion routing was developed by United States Naval Research Laboratory to send and receive bi directional anonymous messages where source and destination cannot be traced back to its origin. This is done by creating an overlay network which runs in parallel with our normal network. Instead of using the normal unencrypted internet, the traffic now goes through an overlay network. There are many overlay networks but the one using onion router is termed as Darknet. Darknet was only be accessed via a software or with authorization. So, people working for the US government developed this system from anonymous communication through the internet.
But this has a major limitation. If the person using this dark web is only US government, then every time they look into a website or access something, the other person will come to know, “oh, this is another US government agent looking at our website”. So, for a network to be fully anonymous, it has to be available to everyone. Thus, the US government was forced to make the onion routing technology public (open source). This was called TOR (The Onion Router) which is the software you need to download to access this network of onion router. Today, millions of people use TOR for a variety of purpose ranging from innocent browsing to criminal activities. Tor is the most popular but Tor is one among the many overlay networks which forms the dark web. But subsequently the dark web forms a small part of the DEEP WEB.
Deep web is everything on the web that cannot be indexed (searched) by search engines. Examples of deep web content includes online banking, Netflix, webmail, dynamic pages, databases and everything that is password protected. Whenever you’re browsing your own Facebook, bank account, medical records, Google account, twitter account, etc. all these are deep web. All these are not indexed and cannot be searched on Google.
Now you can imagine, the deep web has a lot more content that our surface network. Estimation in 2001 showed that the deep web is 500 times bigger than the surface web. But that was a decade ago.
The surface web is the contents that can be indexed (searched) by search engine. The deep web is content that cannot be indexed by search engine. And dark web is just a fraction of the deep web which requires specific software or authorization to access the contents.
But one of the features of dark web is its hidden services. A hidden website can only be accessed by Tor and the URL always ends in .onion. There is actually darker side to web, where people use for illicit purposes. This can range from selling drugs, guns, tank and even missiles. This can even go to cases people having hiring hitman through dark web to kill people. Many websites contain forms of sexualized torture, killing animals, child pornography, etc. are a big problem in the dark web.
A recent study from 2016 found that out of 2723 active .onion websites on the Tor network, 1547 contained illicit contents. But only 3-6% of Tor users use these hidden services. The vast majority browses the website for anonymity and never visit .onion website. As you can see there are a lot of illicit activities going in the dark web, then why can’t they shut down the dark web completely? The US governments are the one who created this in first place. They didn’t create this technology to release to public for free; they needed public usage to make it anonymous.
A government agent working undercover is as much in need of online anonymity as a terrorist, pedophile or whistle blower. It’s everyone or no one.
Silk Road is a website in dark web which sells illegal stuffs, guns, drugs. This had a market value of 1.2 billion. It was quickly taken down by FBI and shutdown in 2013. But just after this, the successor; Silk Road 2.0 came (shutdown in 2014), silk road 3.0 and so on. Project black flag, black market reloaded are some of the other sites where illegal stuffs are sold in the dark web.
Similar to Tor browser other browsers like ITP or Free net browser popped up as the users of Tor browser halved as the news of FBI intervening into the sites came trended. Tor received 60% of its funding from US State Department and Department of Defense.
The Dark web has empowered activists to spread news during the Arab swing and encourage whistle blower to release information. The dark web as a tool helped journalists to uncover the truth was made popular by wikileaks. Now organization such as the New York Times and the Guardian offer dark web drop sites to upload anonymously leaked tips and documents. It also helped ordinary citizens to browse the web without being tracked by advertisers or even the government.
Now since you know what a world wide web is, we need to understand what happens to a text when you send from one system to another. How does it transmit? Why do we input HTTPS, what is it relevance? What does this data limit do to us? Stay tuned for my next article!
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