The internet is enormous, but most of it remains unknown to most web users. The often-overlooked parts are the deep web, darknet, and dark web, and these parts are not assessable through standard web browsers. The following are examples of top dark web sites to help you get started.
The deep web is any web page not indexed by traditional search engines. You will find there legal content not listed on search engines, which require exclusive access like encrypted chat records, bank records, and email correspondence.
The darknet is an encrypted network that requires specific tools and software to access. It provides privacy to users and is a subset of the deep web. It is a World Wide Web of darknets like Tor and Freenet. It is often called the underbelly of the internet what with criminal activity and shady dealings running unchecked.
Commerce on the dark web has grown since the rise of cryptocurrencies with their ability to help with privacy. The top three most common cryptocurrencies on the dark web include:
Bitcoin has been instrumental in dark web marketplaces for how it helps pseudonymous, decentralized peer-to-peer payments. However, the same trait and the inherent plethora of bad actors in the dark web often make it hard to create trust in transactions. People who want to buy legal items need to be careful not to lose their goods.
Bitcoin’s prevalence in the dark web is a consequence of how familiar it is in the customer base. There have been reports of ransomware attacks that demanded bitcoin to restore encrypted files, but legit businesses also use bitcoin.
Zcash was launched in 2016 as a privacy-focused cryptocurrency. The CEO of Zcash says that the coin was meant to be a game-changer for protecting the anonymity and privacy of its users.
Zcash is a popular alternative to bitcoin in the dark web, preferred for its privacy benefits. Users can implement zk-SNARKs to verify blockchain transactions without showing destination, origin, and amount. It also has private addresses to help fungibility.
Monero is a darling for its lower prices as opposed to bitcoin and its privacy features. Transactions through Monero are entirely private, with the coin having features like ring signatures, Kovri I2P implementation, and stealth addresses. Ring signatures help the user to hide the origin of a transaction. They have an added functionality that obscures the amount per transaction, by applying mathematical functions to it.
The only challenge with Monero is that it uses a proof-of-work algorithm meant for CPU mining – CryptoNight- which makes it inaccessible to ordinary desktops.
It becomes difficult to enforce quality control like reviews or ratings when the seller and buyer are anonymous. Some e-commerce sites have escrows to keep customer funds until the product has been delivered, but they offer no third-party arbitration in case of a dispute. In other cases, all communication is encrypted as so one needs a PGP key. The dark web has practical value for whistleblowers, journalists, and activists, but one needs to be careful to communicate in secure and encrypted ways.