“If it’s dark and its deep, then it must be shrouded in mystery. If it’s shrouded in mystery, best to avoid it.”
But we refuse to avoid it; because we want you to learn all you can about this wonderful internet “phenomenon“, exploit it where you can and brag about how you know what so few comprehensively understand. In this sequel on Protecting Yourself Online, we shall dive deeper into understanding the mechanisms that have been ingeniously crafted to ensure that you are protected online.
The internet (a humongous global network of computers) is wide in breadth as the Mariana’s Trench is deep in depth. Every second, over 6,000 tweets are sent, over 40,000 Google Search queries and if that’s not enough, its home to over 1.9 billion (yes, you got that right, billion) websites.
If that’s not enough to convince you how big the internet is, know this; there are close to 5 billion web pages, 95 million photos are uploaded on Instagram daily, 400 hours of video content are uploaded on YouTube every minute and over a zettabyte (= 1 000 000 000 000 GB’s ) of bandwidth is consumed annually by internet users.
All these numbers seem huge and long! The thing is, its just a fraction of the internet. There is more to it. What I just mentioned previously is the clear net. Data you regularly access through your normal browser, searches you perform and even social media you visit. That brings us to the question of “what is tor, the deep web and the dark web and how does it affect your protection online?“.
Fun Fact: The first ever website online is still active. Visit it here: info.cern.ch.
First, we demystify the deep and dark web. The deep web is the the part(s) of the web whose content(s) is not indexed by regular search engines. Indexed here means; if you were to search for that information on Google or Bing or even Yahoo, you wouldn’t find it. This includes web mail, online banking, private or restricted social media areas among others.
The dark web on the other hand is web content that exists in networks that require specific software, configuration or authorization to access. In this sphere of the web, private networks can conduct their business anonymously without divulging identifying information such as location, IP Address, browsers and so forth. That said, it is important to know that there is a difference between the deep & dark web.
What is Tor?
As we described the dark web, you noted that you require specific software to access it, right? Tor is such software. It is configured to enable you access the dark web that is inaccessible through your normal browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera. To enable this “restricted access”, Tor is uniquely configured to hide your information in ways that are ingenious. This protects you from prying eyes. This is achieved by encrypting and routing your traffic through a set of different, random nodes known as the onion network.
It is worthy noting that Tor can be used to access the clear net; allowing you to browse as you would normally without any change however, there is a catch. As earlier mentioned, Tor hides some important details about you. Details that Facebook, Google, Bing, Amazon and many other conglomerates “need” to “serve” you well. When you use Tor, this information is not available and they make sure you get a headache before you achieve your goals when visiting such websites.
As ingenious and crafty as Tor is, it is not perfect. There are set guidelines on how to use it. There are loopholes that can be exploited and, using it for your day to day activities could prove cumbersome.
Who needs Tor?
Basically, anyone and everyone. It is however worthy to note that, unless you are a person dealing with highly sensitive information or you are evading someone actively online or you are just extremely paranoid, you may not need Tor.
We have come to the end of this article. We hope it was an educative read, and we shall keep you posted on our next release.