History and Definition of What is the Dark Web?
Safety,  Technology

History and Definition of What is the Dark Web?

The dark web, in English Dark Web, is the part of the internet that is made up of websites that hide their IP addresses. In other words, we are facing a kind of secret network, although there are ways to access it and without breaking the laws of Spain. Unlike everyday content that is searched through Google and other search engines, the dark web requires special programs and technologies. Anyone who wants to navigate the dark web needs to master these tools (among other reasons, because almost all traffic is encrypted).

When was the dark web created?

Thanks to a final project by a student at the University of Edinburgh, the dark web exists today and is accessible from many countries. Initially, the goal was to create a decentralized peer-to-peer file sharing program. Ian Clarke, who signed that academic report in 1999, saw his project evolve into a Freenet in a short time. In other words, a platform with absolute freedom of online expression began to function. Users shared opinions and shared posts anonymously, without filters of any kind and free from government censorship.

We had to wait until 2000 to see the launch of the Freenet. From that moment on, the debate began on the urgency of platforms in which netizens can navigate without revealing their identities. This is how the Tor browser (2002) was born, which eventually became the perfect option to access the dark web more easily.

Even though in its beginnings Tor was oriented to guarantee freedom of expression, in 2008 and 2009 a new version was published that, combined with the emergence of Bitcoin, made it easier to buy and sell illegal products anonymously, which gave it to the dark web the fame it has today.

How the dark web browser works

The most popular browser designed to access the Dark Web is Tor. Most of the people interested in the dark web go for this option. In fact, the concepts are linked on numerous occasions, when talking about Tor it is intuited that it is related to browsing the dark network. Next, we explain in broad strokes how it works.

  • Tor (The Onion Router) started from a project of the United States government. They were looking for a tool for various military organizations to exchange messages and information anonymously.
  • This is where the name of this browser comes from, the method used to encrypt these communications. The aim of the Tor browser is to wrap the data in different layers of encryption, like an onion, and send it through a network of “Onion Routers”.
  • Each time the encrypted message passes through a router, one layer will be removed, and the partially decrypted message will be sent to the next router. And so on until you reach your intended destination.

Dark web search engine

Navigating the dark web is tricky. Due to the very “secret” nature of these websites, the content is not indexed, which makes it difficult to find. Therefore, it is useless to try to find this content using search engines on the surface web (surface web, in Spanish), such as Google, Ecosia or Bring.

As we anticipated in the previous section, to find pages of your interest on the dark web you have to do it through Tor. In this case, it acts like a conventional browser. The dark web search engine will most likely show fewer results as it is limited to the dark web sites that receive the most visits. Also, it cannot be known with certainty that these programs will protect your personal data.

Dark websites

All web pages that are not accessible from conventional search engines are considered dark websites. Frequently, people imagine the dark web as a dangerous place full of criminals since it is the most repeated image in series and movies. It is only necessary to remember the character of Penélope García in Criminal Minds (Criminal Minds), the best hacker of the FBI.

Yes, the dark web can be the center of illegal and nasty operations, involving deplorable activities. However, it could be said that any page that cannot be accessed through normal browsers is part of the dark web, so some content is not related to crime.

Deep Web vs. Dark Web: what’s the difference?

The terms “dark web” and “deep web” are often used interchangeably, and of course, incorrectly. The confusion between the two can be attributed to their overlapping definitions. But despite some of those coincidences, they refer to two different areas of the internet.

  • Deep web: online content that is not indexed by search engines such as Bing or Google, for example information that is protected by passwords or by payment pages. There are some search engines that offer access to this content, but they are scarce.
  • Dark Web: set of dark websites that are also not indexed by classic search engines, since they require special tools to unlock the content.

After reading these definitions, and given this context, we conclude that the Dark Web is the subcategory of the Deep Web.

What is the use of accessing the dark web?

The dark web is a mixed database, including information that was hacked and published without consent (for example, third-party credit card numbers) and uncensored high-interest content. For more detailed information on what you can find there, check out our Dark Web case study, where evidence remains that stolen data sells for how much, among other things.

Here are some things you can find by browsing the dark web:

  • Scientific articles with open access and free of charge;
  • News networks not affiliated with political parties or agendas. Very useful in countries are harsh laws against freedom of the press;
  • Discussion forums on a multitude of topics, from conversations about geopolitics to UFOs;
  • Online libraries that contain books of all genres: narrative, comics, popularization…

Unfortunately, the freedom and poor regulation of the dark web has left an open door for illegal activity. These are some of the illegal behaviors that criminals commit on this network:

  • Posts and threads about conversations related to illegal actions;
  • Sale of prohibited substances and promotion of drug use;
  • Sale of weapons and other prohibited items on the black market;
  • Sell ​​stolen information on credit cards, passports or ID;
  • Hiring services that do not respect the law.

So is the dark web illegal? In most countries, it is not. It can be used legally or illegally, just like a conventional internet connection, it just depends on who is using it and what you are doing on the network.

Is the dark web dangerous?

The dark web can be dangerous. There are many threats and illegal activities associated with this network, in fact it gained the fame that it is a not recommended place on the internet.


Software circulates on the dark network that could harm your computer, take note of the most common:

  • Ransomware: Browsing the dark web exposes you to a high risk of malware infection, as it is difficult to verify whether a website is safe or not. If you are careless, your device could end up infected with ransomware and you may lose access to the device in question.
  • Botnets – Botnets are networks of infected devices that can be used to launch DDoS attacks. There are many hackers on the dark web who offer botnets as a service, with dark web pages listing their prices.
  • Scams: Due to how loosely regulated this section of the internet is, it is very difficult to verify the authenticity of any site you visit. That means that the probability of being scammed is much higher. You could end up on a fake page, faked to look like the one you were trying to reach, and accidentally download malware or fall victim to a scam.
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