The deep web is a vast resource of information much of it academic and of great value. However, there is a shadow side, one where stolen identities are offered for sale, among other things. We explore what the deep web means, why it exists and highlight some of the things you need to be aware of for identity theft protection.
What is the Deep Web?
You may have heard of the deep web, and wondered what it is. At its broadest level it means that part of the web that you can’t access with a standard browser such as Google or Firefox. And it’s huge, estimated to be up to 500 times larger than the Internet as we know it today. To give you some sense of scale Google scans about 8 billon pages.
People often describe the deep web in terms of an ocean. When you do an ordinary Internet search you essentially skim the surface of the ocean. When you trawl the deep web you’re diving into the depths that are hidden from view. Due to a lot of recent media coverage about Silk Road, a deep web website that offers drugs for sale there’s a perception that the deep web is a seething mass of nefarious tricksters offering their services as hit men, gun dealers or pornography merchants. While this element does exist, there’s also a lot more to it.
What can you find on the Deep Web?
For example, it also includes university library sites, software developer sites and peer-to-peer sites where people in different countries use the deep web to work collaboratively on projects. It’s also used by businesses, military and intelligence services, and plenty of ordinary people who value their privacy or want to discuss socially sensitive subjects such as abuse.
In short, there is a huge amount of information on the deep web that spans just about every subject you can think of, from the humanities to medicine and government to business and economics. Much of the content is hosted by academic institutions,consists of enormous databases and clearly has lots of value to lots of people. Many of these organisations have portals on the ordinary web that provide a doorway to this information.
How is the Deep Web accessed?
However, as mentioned there is a dark side to the deep web. To access this you need to use a service such as Tor, which stands for The Onion Router. Tor wasn’t set up to facilitate an anonymous black market but certainly some people use it like this because of the anonymity it offers. And there is certainly a thriving trade in stolen identities, with credit and debit cards that have been stolen by hackers, traded and often burnt onto ‘new’ credit cards.
Identity theft in progress: Credit card information sold for €3.50
A recent trawl revealed a ‘carder,’ that is someone who deals in stolen credit cards, discussing the return on investment on a €20 outlay for two stolen cards he’d bought from a carders forum. Some stolen card details can go for as little as €3.50. The carder used the stolen identities of a Greek man and a Dutch woman to turn the €20 investment into €180 by transferring ‘cash’ from the cards to untraceable Bitcoins. He was mulling the benefits of Bitcoin transfers. BullGuard delivers identity theft protection to guard against this type of theft. Identity theft is a way of being for some deep web users and that’s why we all need to protect our online identities or they may end up for sale on the deep web.
What’s your view on the deep web?
Posted by Steve Bell