After looking at the structure of both the dark web and normal web, we can now start to see why so many people want the benefits Tor gives, especially the anonymity. With anonymity comes people who want to do things they should not be doing. Tor makes this so much easier. Typically, hosting a website takes some work. It is not incredibly complicated but would take a little bit to set up. Tor removes a majority of that labor because as soon as you are connected to TOR, your device is already set up as a node that people can route through. You do not have to go through the process of allowing traffic, opening ports, etc. Tor handles it all for you. So by modifying two files, you can now start to host your own website, and it will be given an “.onion” link.
Below are some screenshots of dark web sites courtesy of OIMonitor.
Here, we can see a broad category of things. Figure 1 is an illegal documents selling site, where you can purchase all of your illegal documents such as passports, licenses, and all other documents.
Figure 2 is an index site, where you can go and find out what different dark web sites are. As we showed before, most links on the dark web are not human readable. They are starting to get to be, but for now they aren’t. So index sites fill that gap by saying, this long .onion link actually points to this. Think of it as a simplified version of Google, but for Tor.
Figure 3 is a python wiki with information about source code for probably the most famous Tor website, the Silk Road.
I picked these examples for a few reasons. First, to show that not everything on the dark web is bad. It is essentially propaganda at this point to paint the dark web as 100% evil. Facebook has a Tor link, are they evil? 🙂
Secondly, to show you how easy it is to navigate around and find things. Even though there is not an actual Google on the dark web, we can visit index sites to find other index sites, or to find where we want to go.
And lastly, to point out something about Tor: You can put up and take down sites whenever you want. And the anonymity that is built into Tor makes it difficult to track down who the owner is, but as with everything on a computer, it is not completely anonymous, and the information is stored somewhere. As the dark web starts to get more and more popular, the benefits and the anonymity will start to fail, as they already have.
When doing anything online, remember a few things: Be somewhat smart, nothing is really anonymous, there is always breadcrumbs. Lastly, don’t post stupid things regardless of where it is. Someone will eventually see it and link it back to you.