Overlay networks that employ the Internet but also require a certain set of specific software requirements and configurations, the authority to access and contain some worldwide web content existing on them, is known as the Dark-Net. It is a part that has not been indexed by web search engines. Though, sometimes dark-web is mistakenly referred to as the deep web. The Dark-Net comprises small networks as well as large and well-known networks. The Dark-Net browsers are Tor, Freenet, I2P, and riffle. These are operated by public organizations and also by individuals. The clients of the Dark-Net have also termed the regular net as ‘Clearnet’. This is due to the fact that the regular net has no encryption. The Tor Dark-Net is also called ‘Onionland’ which is a reference made for the top-level domain suffixes of a network. Onion routing consists of traffic anonymity. There is a list of some common terminologies practiced to refer to it. But, looking at the general confusion which occurs due to the confusion between the dark-web and deep web, the deep web is one such term that is required to gain more clarity on. There have been recommendations to distinguish between them but not many amendments have been made.
Dark-Net Websites are accessed through some specific networks such as Tor, which is ‘The onion’ routing project or I2P which is the Invisible Internet Project. Dark-Net clients employ some frequently exercised Tor-accessible Web-Sites and Tor browser and these can be identified by the domain “.onion”. The function of Tor is to provide anonymous access to the Internet while the I2P has a specialization in providing authority to anonymously access Web-Sites. There is layered encryption in the Dark-Net and due to this the identities and locations of the Dark-Net clients cannot be tracked. The encryption provided by the Dark-Net has a powerful technology that is supposed to route the client’s data through some intermediate servers. This protects the identity of the client and also provides a guarantee of their anonymity.
There is a subsequent node in the scheme through which the information which has been transmitted is decrypted and this leads to the exit node. Owing to the complications of the system, it has become absolutely impossible for the node path to be produced again in order to decrypt the information layer by layer. Due to a level of encryption which is very high, it is difficult for the Web-Sites to be able to track the geolocation and the IP of the clients. Also, clients are unable to get any information about their hosts.
The communication that takes place between the Dark-Net clients is of a highly encrypted nature which allows them to exchange information and files in a very confidential manner. Illegal activities such as trade, forums and exchanges in the media happen with regard to pedophiles and terrorists. Simultaneously, there are certain traditional Websites that have created an alternative method to access for Tor browser to ease connectivity to the clients. ProPublica, for instance, launched a newer version of its Web-Site which was made available uniquely to the Tor clients. Some illicit practice of onion services has been highlighted by some researchers at King’s College London in the past. Some widely employed terms in the Dark-Net stories or its concept are:
Botnets: These are mostly structured with their command and control servers, which have found their base in hidden service which is resistant to censorship. These create a large amount of traffic which is related to the bot.
Bitcoin service: Some services of bitcoin such as tumblers are available on Tor and others such as Grams, provide Dark-Net market integration. There have been tested approaches that have been found to convert Bitcoin into a game currency that is exercised online. There has been evidence of blockchain and cryptocurrency being employed to regulate the Dark-Net.
Dark-Net markets: Transaction of illegal drugs happens in commercial Dark-Net markets. These have been able to pull significant media coverage given to the popularity of Silk Road. Software exploits and weapons are also sold in some markets.
Groups of Cyber-Invaders: There are Cyber-Invaders who function either individually or in groups. And, they sell their services similarly. There are some widely known groups such as Xdedic, Cyber-Strike forum, darkOde, TheRealdeal, Trojanforge, and Mazafaka.
The Into the Web of Profit report identified 12 categories of tools or services that could present a peril in the form of a network breach or data compromise:
- Infection or Strikes, including virus, distributed denial of service (DDoS) and botnets
- Access, including remote access Trojans (RATs), keyloggers and exploits
- Espionage, including services, customization and targeting
- Support services such as tutorials
- Customer data
- Operational data
- Financial data
- Intellectual properter/trade secrets
- Other emerging menace
The report also outlined three peril variables for each category:
- Devaluing the enterprise, by undermining brand trust, reputational damage or losing ground to a competitor
- Disrupting the enterprise, by DDoS Cyber-Invasion or other malware that affects business operations
- Defrauding the enterprise, by IP theft or espionage that impairs a company's ability to compete or causes a direct financial loss
All this activity, this vision of a bustling marketplace, might make you think that navigating the Dark-Net is easy. It isn’t. One would imagine that the Dark-Net is an extremely chaotic and messy place and everyone on the Dark-Net, is anonymous and a substantial minority of criminals who are out to scam other peoples. Accessing the Dark-Net requires to employ an anonymous browser called Tor. The Tor browser makes your task extremely easy by routing your web page requests via a series of proxy servers handled by thousands of people around the globe, making your IP address untraceable and unidentifiable. Tor works like magic, but the result is an experience that’s like the Dark-Net itself: unpredictable, unreliable and maddeningly slow. Still, for those willing to put up with the inconvenience, the Dark-Net provides a memorable glimpse at the seamy underbelly of the human experience – without the peril of skulking around in a dark alley.
Dark-Net search engines exist, but even the best are challenged to keep up with the constantly shifting landscape. The experience is reminiscent of searching the web in the late 1990s. Even one of the best search engines, called Grams, returns results that are repetitive and often irrelevant to the query. List of links such as Hidden Wikipedia are other routes to take, however, even indices return multiple 404 errors and a frustrating number of timed-out connections.
Dark-Net Websites look pretty much like any other Web-Site, but there are important differences. One is the naming structure. Instead of ending in .com or .co, Dark-Net Websites end in .onion. That is the special practice of top-level domain suffix is designating an anonymous hidden service reachable via the Tor network. Browsers with the appropriate proxy can reach these Web-Sites, but others can’t. Dark-Net Web-Sites also employ a scrambled naming structure that creates URLs that are often impossible to remember. For example, a popular commerce Website called Dream Market goes by the unintelligible address of “eajwlvm3z2lcca76.onion.”
Many Dark-Net Web-Sites are set up by scammers, who constantly move around to avoid the wrath of their victims. Even commerce Web-Sites that may have existed for a year or more can suddenly disappear if the owners decide to cash in and flee with the escrow money they’re holding on behalf of customers.
Law enforcement officials are getting better at finding and prosecuting owners of Web-Sites that sell illicit goods and services. In the summer of 2017, a team of cybercops from three countries successfully shut down AlphaBay, the Dark-Net’s largest source of contraband, sending shudders throughout the network. But many merchants simply migrated elsewhere. The anonymous nature of the Tor network also makes it especially vulnerable to distributed denial of service Cyber-Invasion (DDoS), said Patrick Tiquet, Director of Security & Architecture at Keeper Security, and the company’s resident expert on the topic. Web-Sites are constantly changing addresses to avoid DDoS, which makes for a very dynamic environment. Due to this weird atmosphere, the quality of the search is greatly reduced and it also varies a lot, on top of that most of the material is outdated.
The Dark-Net has flourished thanks to bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that enables two parties to conduct a trusted transaction without knowing each other’s identity. Bitcoin has been a major factor in the growth of the Dark-Net, and the Dark-Net has been a big factor in the growth of bitcoin. Nearly all Dark-Net commerce Web-Sites conduct transactions in bitcoin or some variant, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to do business there. The inherent anonymity of the place attracts scammers and thieves, but what do you expect when buying guns or drugs is your objective?
Dark-Net commerce Web-Sites has the same features as any e-retail operation, including ratings/reviews, shopping carts, and forums, but there are important differences. One is quality control. One can’t determine the credibility of the rating system when true identity both buyers and sellers are anonymous. In addition to that rating here can be easily manipulated, and even sellers can sometimes scam others and have long track records of sudden disappearance with their customer’s assets such as crypto-coins.
Most e-commerce providers offer some kind of escrow service that keeps customer funds on hold until the product has been delivered. However, one can’t expect service with a smile in case of a dispute. It’s pretty much up to the buyer and the seller to duke it out. Every communication is encrypted, so even the simplest transaction requires a PGP key. Even completing a transaction is no guarantee that the goods will arrive. Many need to cross international borders, and customs officials are cracking down on suspicious packages. The Dark-Net news Web-SiteDeep.Dot.Web teems with stories of buyers who have been arrested or jailed for attempted purchases.
No, it is not illegal. It is merely a part of the network which has not been indexed by search engines such as google.com and duckduckgo.com. So, simply speaking, using the Dark-Net is accessing a part of the internet and so it cannot be illegal. Just that, because of the fact that it is hidden from the normal eyes; it is exercised by many Cyber-Criminals for certain illegal purposes. For instance, black marketing of weapons and drugs is carried out by this. Also, it is employed by professionals who need to works as Cyber-Invader, journalists, and whistleblowers to maintain their anonymity. Also, upon being censored by certain authorities, some items were found which were said to be infected. These comprised Trojans, malware, ransomware and many more. So, basically, it has to be practiced with caution. Clients should abstain from clicking just any link they find. Also, privacy should be maintained in putting up any personal information on it. This information and other sensitive details can be employed by Cyber-Criminals to cause harm. Cyber-Criminals can indulge in illegal pornography, phishing strikes, cyber terrorism, and other destructive purposes and even on maintaining the standard security protocols; there are chances that one might get trapped in such situations of crisis. Also, even if anonymity is provided by them, there’s no guarantee of someone being a hundred percent untraceable. Some steps can be taken to prevent harm. A proper functioning anti-virus should be in place. Also, the webcam should be covered with tape. But then looking at the one-word answer to the question about the legality of the Dark-Net, well, it’s a no. It’s not illegal. It’s the activities that are illegal.