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The Darknet - An Overview

A lot of people are puzzled about what the darknet is exactly. First off, it may be confused with the deep web, the term for all parts of the Internet that could not be indexed by search engines. The deep web, according to experts, is several times bigger than the surface web (mainstream Internet).

The dark web (or dark net) makes up a small portion of the deep web. Its contents could not be found by the search engines, but beyond that, it is called the anonymous Internet. Within the dark net, website publishers as well as web surfers are totally anonymous. Although huge government agencies can theoretically track people's activities in this secret space, the process is very complicated, requires a large amount of resources, and isn't always fruitful.

On the other hand, accessing the hidden Internet is amazingly easy. The most widely used method is by using a service called Tor (or TOR), which stands for The Onion Router. While technically savvy users can find tons of ways to configure and use Tor, it can also be as easy as installing a new browser.

The Tor browser even works for surfing the surface web anonymously, offering the user additional protection against threats, such as corporate data theft, government spying, hacking, and the rest. It also allows you visit websites anonymously published on the Tor network, could not be accessed by anyone not using Tor. This is undeniably one of the biggest as well as most popular parts of the darknet. Tor website addresses don't look anything like the usual URLs - they include seemingly random character strings and end with .onion.
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Another privacy network termed I2P (the Invisible Internet Project) has grown in popularity recently. Tor has remained very popular, but there also seems to be a shift towards I2P, where users get such improvements as integrated secure email and file storage/sharing plug-ins, as well as integrated social features like blogging and chat. A lot of Tor users also like the extra layer of privacy provided a virtual private network, or VPN. No one will be able to see what you are doing exactly with your onion router, but surveillance entities would know that you are on Tor to do something. In 2014, there was talk that the NSA was tagging Tor users as extremists or persons of interest. While that could be a very long list without any evidence of what will be done with it, it is something everyone would like to avoid. Using a VPN when connecting to Tor will practically erase this problem because then, nobody would even have an inkling that the person is using Tor.Understanding Markets