Deep Web: Everything on the internet that is not indexed by search engines.
Dark Web: A part of the Deep Web that, well, is dark. They are networks that require special software and authorisation in order to access, and the websites here are usually for illegal activities.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I talk about the Deep Web is Tor, that stands for “The Onion Router”. Tor is associated with the Dark Web mainly because of of user anonymity. Tor is actually a piece of software - a web browser - that allows for connecting to the onion network.
Which brings me to the principle technique: onion routing. Onion routing was essentially developed to encrypt US Intelligence communication back in the mid-1990s. It was created at the US Naval Research Laboratory and later improved by the Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Today though, it is open source and can be used via the Tor browser.
Considering Tor is completely open source, you can always download the browser onto your computer to access the deep web. Tor is available for all major platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux/GNU and Android.
Tor can legitimately be used by anyone. Although using it is completely legal, what some websites allow you to do on it is not. I’ll be writing about “What’s on the Deep Web?” in an upcoming article in the series. Websites with the .onion domain can only be accessed via the Tor browser.
Tor is used by a wide range of people. While smugglers and illegal traders use Tor to anonymously practice their activities, NSA (U.S. National Security Agency) uses Tor for protecting their anonymity. Of course, if you are involved in an illegal activity, the NSA would probably be tracking your moves (however anonymous you are on Tor, you can never completely hide, as the Silk Road story suggests. More about it in another blog post.).
NSA regards Tor to be “the King of high-secure, low-latency anonymity” (The Guardian post, linked below), and perhaps it is.
Understanding what Tor is and how Tor works is an important part of how the dark web works. Stay tuned to Technonerds to learn more about the Deep Web and the Dark Web, as many more articles are on their way!
The Guardian: Tor: ‘the king of high-secure, low-latency anonymity'
Wikipedia: Onion Routing
Roger Dingledine; Nick Mathewson; Paul Syverson: "Tor: The Second-Generation Onion Router" (PDF).
Tor Project Website: www.torproject.org