Deep Dark Web – The Internet which you don’t know

I was so intrigued to write this post just because of the hacking spree which got unleashed over the last week(WannaCry Ransomware). Very few people got a hang of the WannaCry ransomware cyber attack that took the world by storm. It’s means & mechanism which enables this kind of havoc. So in this post we are going to scratch the surface of an invisible internet known to be a safe haven for hacker’s or digital criminals to carry out such lethal large scale cyber attacks. “Surface Web” is the internet known to normal user’s.  It constitutes of Facebook, google, yahoo, Wikipedia & the websites indexed by search engines. “Deep Web” & “Dark Web” are 2 different specimen of it’s kind, which often referred to as one called “Deep Dark Web”. Let’s go to the gravity of “Deep Web” and “Dark Web” to unearth the dawn of cyberwarfare & its side effects that will follow in the years to come.

 

What is Deep Web?

It is estimated that 90% of all internet data and websites are hidden from search engine indexing, this area of the internet is known as the Deep Web.  The deep web,  invisible web,  or hidden web are parts of the World Wide Web whose contents are not indexed by standard search engines for any reason. The content is hidden behind HTML forms. The opposite term to the deep web is the surface web – the content on internet which is accessible to everyone. The deep web includes many very common uses such as web mail, your company intranet site not accessible outside your company private network and online banking but also paid for services with a paywall such as video on demand, and many more. Computer scientist Michael K. Bergman is credited with coining the term deep web in 2001 as a search indexing term.

By its very nature, the size of the Deep Web is difficult to calculate. But top university researchers say the Web you know — Facebook (FB), Wikipedia, news — makes up less than 1% of the entire World Wide Web.

When you surf the Web, you really are just floating at the surface. Dive below and there are tens of trillions of pages — an unfathomable number — that most people have never seen. They include everything from boring statistics to human body parts for sale (illegally). Below is a picture which visualizes what encompasses deep web. 


(Note: This picture is taken from google images, used here for educational purpose)

Though the Deep Web is little understood, the concept is quite simple. Think about it in terms of search engines. To give you results, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing constantly index pages. They do that by following the links between sites, crawling the Web’s threads like a spider. But that only lets them gather static pages or dynamic pages that can be crawled eg: LinkedIn or facebook gives you the ability to configure permission for your profile to be crawled. What they don’t capture are dynamic pages, like the ones that get generated when you ask an online database a question. Consider the results from a query on the Census Bureau site.

When the web crawler arrives at a [database], it typically cannot follow links into the deeper content behind the search box. Google and others also don’t capture pages behind private networks or standalone pages that connect to nothing at all. These are all part of the Deep Web.

 

What is Dark Web?

Dark Web – the darkest corner of the Internet. It’s a collection of secret websites (ending in .onion) that require special software to access them. You cannot access these site with your normal internet browser’s. People use Tor – The Onion Router so that their Web activity can’t be traced — it runs on a relay system that bounces signals among different Tor-enabled computers around the world.

Tor –  is one of the browsers we refer to when we talk about anonymized browsing. Originally conceived (and paid for) for the US Navy, it was designed for secure military communications and when its broader adoption happened it was a browser of choice for net users who wanted to be protected from corporate invasion of their privacy.

 

How TOR works?

Official TOR Browser – https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en


(Note: This picture is taken from google images, used here for educational purpose)

TOR uses SOCKS protocol to access dark web resources. Socket Secure (SOCKS) is an Internet protocol that exchanges network packets between a client and server through a proxy server. SOCKS additionally provides authentication so only authorized users may access a server. Practically, a SOCKS server proxies TCP connections to an arbitrary IP address, and provides a means for UDP packets to be forwarded.

SOCKS performs at Layer 5 of the OSI model (the session layer, an intermediate layer between the presentation layer and the transport layer). There are 2 versions of SOCKS ie 5 & 4.

It works as a series of servers around the globe that bounce the user around, making them much harder to track or monitor. It is inarguable however, that whether it is Tor or Tor-type browsers or the specific Dark Web, it is very difficult to track users and their behavior in this area and this creates problems for law enforcement and security agencies.

 

Where is the problem?

The anonymous working of the “Dark Web” naturally evolved into a “Hacker’s Heaven”. Although the media has led us to believe that Tor is in fact all of the Dark Web, clearly there is much more going on.  The services that you can avail on the dark web goes beyond your comprehension with-out any exaggeration. The dawn of cyber war fare has brought this into more prominence than ever. 


(Note: This picture is taken from google images, used here for educational purpose)

Some of the notorious services or sites that exists on dark web does the following:

  • Trade Of weapons (Legal & Illegal)
  • Stolen Credit Card Information
  • Drugs
  • Hit-men for Hire
  • Fake passport’s
  • Fake Driving License
  • SSN
  • Illegal Pornography
  • Hire Hacker’s
  • Database Of Exploits – The exploit database that you will find here is by far the largest on this planet. You can find information such as which tool to use for which exploit & further more exploits are mapped against specific systems such flaws in windows OS to firewall bypassing to Database flaws etc
  • Online Money Laundering
  • Hacked Paypal accounts
  • Stolen data & User Credentials etc – The leaked passwords from stolen system enable’s the Brute force attacks to be efficient and timely.

This website here https://www.deepweb-sites.com/deep-web-links-2015/ is one of the resource to find some of the deep or dark web sites.

 

How to be Vigilant and minimize the risk?

Here is what I suggest which as follows:

  1. Dark web was created for a purpose and it will continue to exist. In fact this is going to grow more into 100x folds. What we should be thinking is how we can evade from attacks or being used as a pawn for large scale attacks.

  2. As mentioned earlier people who are part of dark web always finds ways to be anonymous, this means they would need to find paths on internet which can be undetected. For instance if you are a home user and if your home router is vulnerable with poor security configuration you will be used as a pawn and will serve the purpose in carrying out such attacks.

  3. Foot-printing and covering your trails is the first thing any professional hacker would look for. So vulnerable router is one potential example. There are ways to minimize the risk like not broadcasting your home internet to unintended audiences, stronger password mechanism, don’t ever use PINS on your router (Lookout for my another article passwords and how they crack)- by far the easiest way to break into your home network and the hacker may use it to their advantage.

  4. Minimize the risk of being compromised being moving away from poor passwords to accessing sensitive resources such as banking services on public network other than your home network.
    Apply disk level encryption even if it’s your personal computer. This doesn’t mean you are fool proof. You are just adding more complexity for the hacker to retrieve it. The probability of giving away data decreases versus it’s just there for the taking.

  5. Social networking and any other public domain where you’ve a presence make sure that data is somewhat not related to your password. Example if you have a pet named “Johny” and your wife birthday “some date” don’t ever make the mistake of keeping them as your password. Social profiling is a technique which most of the hackers do to break into emails or or any other sensitive systems.

  6. Dropbox or cloud sharing be mindful where it is shared and how it is shared. Make sure it’s not crawled by search engines.

  7. Phishing it’s an age old technique still people are falling for it.

  8. For me nothing on the internet is secure. Not even the SSL connections. So verify your service provider ssl connection before giving out your data. Check my another article why SSL aren’t safe.

  9. Last but not least don’t share your email or phone number with unintended audience be it on the public domain like which can be crawled by search engines.  The problem with this is you are broadcasting your online presence and not only that even without getting into your email as an hacker i can send email’s on behalf you to someone. You don’t want to land up in such awkward situation. I’ve covered in my another article “StingRay” and breaking into your smartphone in order for a hacker to compromise your phone, all he/she needs is your phone number. This is scary but thats the hard truth.

Again these are measure’s that can minimize the risk of being compromised with any determined hacker it’s about time until he breaks into your system.

Conclusion

  • The brazen cyber attacks is going to be happen more often than not. I say this because any teen with some serious curiosity can take our world by storm, given the fact the kind of exploits & tools that are at his/her disposal today comparatively few years back. 
  • The purpose of this post is not to scare some one or exaggerate the threat. Although there are ways to track down the hacker’s, bear in mind the probabilities of getting anonymous and creating havoc has gone up much higher.
  • Be vigilant about your data & resources you access over the internet.

 

2 thoughts on “Deep Dark Web – The Internet which you don’t know

  1. A very well written blog! Thanks for giving us a succinct view into the workings of the deep and dark web. It would be great if you could give us a few tips on how to be vigilant as well.

    1. First of all welcome to my blog :-). Thanks Aditya for asking me such a great question. I’ve added your reply as part of post in the “How to be vigilant and minimize the risk?” section. I hope that answers your question. If you have more thoughts or questions, please feel free to shoot at me.

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