When Dante arrives at the gates of hell following Virgil in The Divine Comedy, he finds an inscription on the top: "For me he goes, to the suffering city; for me he goes, to the eternal torment; for me he goes, after the damn people (…). Oh, those who enter here , leave all hope! " At the door of the dark internet –darknet or dark web– they could hang a similar plate.
According to the report on the threat of organized crime (IOCTA 2019) prepared annually by Europol, in the less accessible depths of the network, everything bad is traded: drugs, weapons, explosives, data and stolen credit cards, software malicious, smuggled goods and currencies and forged documents. And yet, it is not a crime all that glitters on the dark side of the internet. There are also reading clubs, chess and, of course, kittens.
Let's start by distinguishing churras and merinas. When we talk about the dark internet, we mean a part of the internet that cannot be accessed through the usual means. This space is deliberately built outside the web as we know it and requires the use of browsers like Tor. The deep internet (deep web) is everyone who, badly and soon, does not appear on Google. They are websites that are not indexed by search engines, pages that require a password (such as your email), intranets of companies, medical records, legal documents … In this sense, everything we see on Google, on the surface of the web, would be 4% of the iceberg. The deep web it represents 90% and the dark web It constitutes the remaining 6%.
- What has been lost to you down there?
"What allows the darknet it is an internet with privacy, "summarizes Víctor García Font, professor of Multimedia and Telecommunications Studies at the Open University of Catalonia. In a country where freedoms are limited, the dark internet is a means of expression and access to information that in other spaces they would be vetoed or pose an unassuming risk. "In Spain we are not worried about that because there are certain freedoms. People can visit pages of political parties or share their opinions on social networks. And, apart from being insulted on Twitter, there aren't many consequences. In countries like Iran or many others, this is a problem, "García explains. Of course, in such places, what we assume here as a legitimate right falls within the illegality.
If you are lucky enough to not need the dark web to hide from an oppressive government and show a healthy little interest in the black market of everything illegal, but you fancy being even more invisible or simply sightseeing, what you need is Tor.
This browser is the easiest option to venture to navigate the waters that Google Chrome does not cross (or any browser to use). The Onion Router –the onion router– It is the extended version of its name and its plant inspiration is a metaphor for its operation, based on a network of servers that add successive layers of encryption to the information circulating through them. Hence the onion … And the anonymity.
"You have to take into account, more or less, the same as when you browse the Internet conventionally," Garcia Font warns. The first rule of the dark internet is simple: don't do anything you wouldn't do on the superficial internet. In addition, to your usual caution you should add a touch of extra distrust: do not even think about making payments in these waters. And if you are going to do it, you need additional and more committed precautions that we will not address in this tourist visit.
First stop: this same website. If you copy the link in this article and open it in Tor, you'll see exactly the same. You are not even in the darknet. The difference is that your internet service provider does not know what you are seeing, because your request is masked by the aforementioned onion encryption.
If this knows you little and you want to dive a little more, there are some pages that you can try without great risks. "If you want to access a sales site of malware, you have enough numbers to end up infected with malware"recalls the UOC professor.
It's been a couple of years since the New York Times opened a tunnel to its contents for Tor users (https://www.nytimes3xbfgragh.onion/). "Some readers choose to use Tor to access our journalism because they are technically blocked to access our website, because they care about monitoring local networks, because they care about their privacy, or simply because it is the method they prefer," they explained in The moment of launch.
Speaking of tunnels, another website you can find below is ITT Underground, "an expedition to the prohibited underground areas" of the Illinois Institute of Technology (http://62gs2n5ydnyffzfy.onion/). Why? The answer is the same that explains the ravings that also sprout on the surface of the network: Why not?
- More legal things to do in the darknet
In general, the less you wander the better, but there are some services that can help you not get into dangerous territories. One of them is Hidden Wiki. In this directory you will find a list of pages with a brief description of the contents of each one. "Many pages of Hidden Wiki offer links to sites you wouldn't want to visit. The best way to deal with this is to limit yourself to categories that are relatively risk free," they warn in VPN Overview. For example, instead of entering Guns Dark Market to buy guns, assault rifles and grenade launchers, you can listen to the radio on Deep Web Radio.
In VPN Overview they also recommend other dark sites – which seem temporarily inactive – such as Bibliomaniac, a reading club where you will not be doing anything illegal, unless you dedicate yourself to download some of the pirated books that may appear in your catalog. If chess is yours, go to The Chess to face strangers. And if you miss the internet of a lifetime, a sea of kittens awaits you at Tor Kittenz.
METODE is one of the projects of the García Font research group at the UOC. Its objective is to develop tools like Tor, but in which the proliferation of illegal or offensive content can be stopped. "The idea is to use blockchain to create decentralized identities," he says.
To this is added the possibility of revoking the anonymity of certain users, specifically, those who have violated the rules established by the rest of the members of the network. "If a user publishes something that goes against the group's rules, others can cooperate to discourage him."
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