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Deep Web, also known as “Deepnet,” the “Invisible Web,” the “Undernet” or the “hidden Web,” are parts of the Internet that are not considered part of the “surface web,” or the portion of the World Wide Web that is indexed by conventional search engines. Many deep web sites are not indexed because they use dynamic databases that are devoid of hyperlinks and can only be found by performing an internal search query.
According to The New York Times, computer scientist Mike Bergman is credited with coining the term “deep web” in a paper titled “The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value” published in The Journal of Electronic Publishing in August of 2001. In the paper, Bergman mentions that Internet business author Dr. Jill Ellsworth coined the phrase “invisible Web” in 1994 when referring to websites that were not indexed by common search engines. The paper also estimated that at the time of publication, information on the deep Web was “400 to 550 times larger than the commonly defined World Wide Web,” or approximately 7,500 terabytes of data.
On May 29th, 2001, librarian Robert Lackie launched the website Those Dark Hiding Places as a directory for sites that assist in navigating the deep Web. On January 16th, 2002, the website for Deep Web Technologies was launched, which provides the proprietary “Explorit” client for deep web searching. On March 25th, 2003, the tech news blog Campus Technology published an article with links to resources for finding information on the deep Web. On March 9th, 2004, Salon published an article which argued that deep Web search engines have the potential to “give the electorate a powerful lens into the public record.” On June 16th, 2005, Wired reported that Yahoo’s “Search Subscription” service would allow users to search some subscription sites in the deep Web. On December 18th, 2006, the Online Education Databasepublished an “Ultimate Guide to the Invisible Web,” providing background information and tips for navigating deep Web content. On September 25th, 2008, the DeepPeep search engine was started as a project at the University of Utah, which aimed to crawl and index every database on the Internet, including the deep Web. As of January, 2012, the search engine is not available. On February 22nd, 2009, The New York Times published an article about the challenges facing the Google search engine in crawling deep Web content.
In October 2011, a group of Anonymous hacktivists launched Operation Darknet (also known as #OpDarknet), which launched a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Lolita City, a deep Web child pornography website that is only accessible via the TOR anonymous web browser.
Freedom Hosting Network
On August 1st, 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested Eric Eoin Marques, a 28-year-old Irishman who owns and operates Freedom Hosting on Tor network, on charges of distributing and promoting child abuse material online. On the following day, approximately half of Freedom Hosting’s hidden services reportedly suffered from malware attacks and taken offline, many of which were suspected to host illegal activities, including the criminal hacking site HackBB, money laundering services and a vast portion of online child pornography.
The Onion Router (TOR) is an anonymous browsing client, which allows its users to browse the Internet anonymously by separating identification and routing, thus concealing network activity from surveillance. Some websites on the deep Web can only be accessed via the TOR client.
The Silk Road is an online black market which can only be accessed via the TOR browsing client. Many sellers on the site specialize in trading illegal drugs for Bitcoins, a peer-to-peer digital currency.
The Hidden Wiki is a wiki database that can only be accessed via the TOR browsing client and contains articles and links to other deep Web sites, the Silk Road, assassin markets and child pornography sites.
A type of currency often used in deep Web black markets is the Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer digital currency that regulates itself according to network software, with no more than 21 million Bitcoins issued in total by 2140. Bitcoins can be purchased and current exchange rates can be viewed on the MT Gox Bitcoin exchange.