Experts from all over the world have been pointing out the dark side of the deep web for quite some time now. However, new research goes to show there are plenty of legal reasons to use the darknet, as the number of legitimate sites far outpaces the number of underground marketplaces. This is quite a surprising outcome, although it will not put government’s minds at ease by any means.
The Darknet Is About More Than Online Crime
The research unveiled by Terbium Labs is quite interesting to take note of. Most people only know the deep web for its criminal activity, and law enforcement is cracking down on these illegal trades. But every story has two sides to it, and it turns out the number of legitimate deep web sites is far bigger than most people give it credit for.
The deep web offers users an additional layer of anonymity and privacy, which is often associated with online crime.However, there are other reasons to demand more privacy when browsing the Internet. Although the research only pulled data from 400 different sites, it goes to show there are multiple legitimate use cases on the deep web.
As one would come to expect, the results showcase there are many different categories of content to be found on the darknet. Drugs, Fraud, Counterfeits, and Hacking are all prominent site directories, but they only represent a small portion of all onion-based platforms. In fact, 6.8% of all search results returned adult content, which is also deemed as “legal.”
Other legal content one can find on the deep web ranges from hosting Facebook – which is often accessed through the Tor browser – to graphic design firms, political parties, and regular forums to discuss IT-related content. All of this content could easily exist without Tor, were it not for the software to offer more privacy and anonymity.
The research also highlights some worrisome development in the “illicit content” category, though. Even though most deep web discussions revolve around drugs and weapons, they only represent a fraction of what is going on among criminals. Exploitation is a serious offense, and it is becoming more prominent on the darknet than ever before. Exploitation ranges from pornographic, violent content, or any other type of illegal activity involving children.
Weapons of mass destruction are notoriously absent from this darknet findings report. Although exploring 400 web sites may not be the best way to target discussions about WMDs, it goes to show biological agents have not found their way to “traditional’” deep web platforms just yet. But that doesn’t mean it is not there for those who know how the look for it.
The main thing to take away from this research is how one cannot classify the deep web as just a place for criminal activity. However, since no one can grasp the full complexity of the darknet, to begin with, further research is warranted. For now, there is no reason to dismiss the positive side of the deep web, as there are more legitimate use cases than assumed at first.
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