Visualizing The Dark Side Of The Web

The term Dark Web is evocative. It conjures up images of hitmen, illegal drugs, and pedophilia. One imagines a place where the dark side of human nature flourishes away from the eyes – and laws – of society at large.

Today’s infographic, from Cartwright King Solicitors, cuts through the mystique and provides an entertaining and practical overview of the Deep Web and the Dark Web.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist



Much like the ocean, the internet is divided into defined layers.

The internet most people are familiar with is called the Surface Web. Websites in this layer tend to be indexed by search engines and can be easily accessed using standard browsers. Believe it or not, this familiar part of the web only comprises less than 10% of the total data on the internet.

The next layer down, we encounter the largest portion on the internet – the Deep Web. Basically, this is the layer of the internet that is quasi-accessible and not indexed by search engines. It contains medical records, government documents, and other, mostly innocuous information that is password protected, encrypted, or simply not hyperlinked. To reach beyond this layer of the internet, users need to use Tor or a similar technology.


Tor, which stands for “The Onion Router”, is how the majority of people anonymously access the Dark Web. Tor directs internet traffic through complex layers of relays to conceal a user’s location and identity (hence the onion analogy).

In 2004, Tor was released as an open source software. This allowed the Dark Web to grow as people could anonymously access websites.

Since anonymity is sacrosanct in the deep reaches of the Internet, transactions are typically conducted using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. People making purchases in Dark Web markets are (understandably) concerned with privacy, so they often use a series of methods to transfer funds. Below is a common transaction flow on the Dark Web.

Tumblers are used as an extra step to ensure privacy. A conventional equivalent would be moving funds through banks located in countries with strict bank-secrecy laws (e.g. Cayman Islands, Panama).


The concept of the Dark Web isn’t vastly different from the Surface Web. There are message boards (e.g. 8chan, nntpchan), places you can buy things (e.g. Alphabay, Hansa), and blogs (e.g. OnionNews, Deep Web Radio). The rules, or rather a lack thereof, is what makes the Dark Web unique.

Anything that is illegal to sell (or discuss) on the Surface Web is available in the Dark Web. Personal information, drugs, weapons, malware, DDoS attackshacking services, fake accounts for social media, and contract killing services are all available for sale.

The Dark Web is full of criminal activity, but it’s also place where dissidents and whistle-blowers can anonymously share information. In countries with restrictive internet surveillance, the Dark Web may be the only place to safely voice criticisms against government and other powerful entities.


Many .onion sites are only up temporarily, so determining the true size of the Dark Web is nearly impossible. That said, Intelliagg and Darksum recently attempted to map out the Tor-based Dark Web by using a script to crawl reachable sites. They found 29,532 websites; however, 54% of them disappeared during the course of their research. Another recent study found that 87% of Dark Web sites don’t link to any other sites.

It is more accurate to view the darkweb as a set of largely isolated dark silos.

– Graph Theoretic Properties of the Dark-web

Recent changes to Tor, such as 50-character hidden service URLs, have made the Dark Web an even more untraceable place, so we may never fully know what lies beneath the surface of the internet. Based on the parts we have seen, perhaps that’s for the best.


gunzeon Fri, 07/14/2017 - 04:25 Permalink

Is that big white thing at the top supposed to be an iceberg ? tbh, it looks like a wad of bogroll was pulled from a blocked toilet.

Big Creek Rising BennyBoy Fri, 07/14/2017 - 08:34 Permalink

Well DUHH...Who is party to more drug transactions than anyone else?Who hires more hitmen than the mexican cartels?AS a general proportion of overall membership, what organization is most involved in perverted, kinky, sicko sex and human trafficing for sex?would not the Pentagon find it easier to hide $6.7 Billion if it converted that money to crypto and spent it in the netherwebs?  

In reply to by BennyBoy

Sam.Spade BennyBoy Fri, 07/14/2017 - 14:12 Permalink

So you don't fly in jet aircraft, then?  After all, jets were developed by the USG.Ditto for four-wheel drive vehicles and semi-automatic rifles.  Not mention semiconductors and computers.  Or even, dare I mention it, this Internet that you are blogging on?Technology has no axe to grind.  If it's transparent, as TOR is (and ISIS isn't), then you can just check that it's not been diddled and, if it hasn't, feel safe in using it.And that includes parachutes, by the way.

In reply to by BennyBoy

Centerist cossack55 Fri, 07/14/2017 - 06:10 Permalink

Much of what gets posted to the comment threads in ZH could result in criminal hate speech charges in many Western European states, or the articles could result in all of ZH being shut down for being overly critical of the government if it were a Russian or Chinese site.  I wouldn't get too enthusiastic about trying to negatively compare US freedoms to those of any other countries.The authoritarians are working hard to dismember our 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendment rights, but we still enjoy stronger protections in those categories than much of the rest of the world enjoys in their own countries.

In reply to by cossack55

Centerist sleigher Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:42 Permalink

Complacency is deadly.  Many are too quick to relax after achieving political victories.  No victory is permanent.  Every win for Libertarians is a loss for authoritarians, and that means that they will constantly fight to undo our victories.The frog in the slowly-heated pot of water is their favorite technique to degrade our vigilance.

In reply to by sleigher

No Escape dark fiber Fri, 07/14/2017 - 08:55 Permalink

Hahaha...seriously, Americans only find guts to fight when they have an unfair advantage. Easy to push buttons from far away from a safe place, against a weaker enemy. Sure they bully Afghans and other cave dwellers but fear the Koreans, Chinese and Russians, or anyone that can fight back.

Americans never have the guts for a fair fight unfortunately. That's why we will lose in the end.

In reply to by dark fiber

Centerist No Escape Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:36 Permalink

No one with an IQ above 90 would willingly engage in a fair life-or-death battle.  You win when you have overwhelming advantages, only.  To put lives and resources at risk with little guarantee of a gain is reckless and, quite seriously, negligent.  For example, this is why a 3:1 advantage is the bare minimum when carrying out an assault on a fixed position.

In reply to by No Escape

goober cossack55 Fri, 07/14/2017 - 14:05 Permalink

Completely agree ! Interesting TOR was created by a spook agency of USA ? Just as all the other control mechanisms were created. Most people do not realize social media , Google, FB, and many servers who claim to be news outlets are in fact CIA operations. Just as many supposed news agencies have been paying so-called journalist to do their bidding to mind fuck the populace and control them. Now we are seeing the connection of the deep state apparratus and the connection to the democrats a bit more than the REPs. And that is showing itself in the form of the massive attempt to take down Trump who is NOT on the status quo team of red or blue ? He is a political amateur, an outsider exposing the underbelly of the beast to some degree and they do NOT like being exposed !   Here is an incredible read that defines how it all happened in a historical context up to present day events.… layers explained in this article are good information I needed to fully understand. Just imagine how dependant we all are on this shit ?  Not just the web which is a double edge sword, good and bad, but every aspect of the many electronic devices created to mind fuck the populace. This shit literally sucks the brains out of peoples heads so they become zombies to some fucking political distortion as a control mechanism. The exact same thing happens in every aspect of what we used to call education, especially supposed higher Ed ? How did the false paradigm as presented of global warming get created and accepted by millions ? How did a guy named Barrack get elected twice and we still do not know who this magic negro actaully is ? All by the deep state and the workings of the internet as a tool to manipulate people. It is all part of PRAVDA/MSM, the propaganda/interrogation arm of the deep state and now the DEM politburo.…  

In reply to by cossack55

BritBob Fri, 07/14/2017 - 04:46 Permalink

Down in the darkest depths of Argentina there is a belief that the Falkland Islands were stolen from them. This claim has grown enormously since the time of Peron and now about 2/5ths of the world support this theme. That means a good portion of the world have been misinformed.  Time for billions of people to wake up and face the truth - How can Argentina claim the Falklands when she has never legally owned them? Falklands- Never Belonged to Argentina (1 page):

giovanni_f Fri, 07/14/2017 - 04:55 Permalink

compared to the deep state, the dark web is a child's birthday party. It doesn't spread Anti-Russia Paranoia, there are no dossiers circulaing speculating about winnable nuclear wars and last time I checked there have been no illegal drone strikes sent from the dark web against marriage parties in Afghanistan.So let's go after the deep state first, then let's see whether there are still serious issues to deal with because of the dark net.

Sam.Spade giovanni_f Fri, 07/14/2017 - 13:01 Permalink

You have, I am afraid, missed the entire point.The Deep State has government sewn up.  There is nothing you can do about it.  Send your best to them and they will corrupt them and send them back to rule you.The problem isn't politics, it's concentration of political power.  Until that is broken up, nothing can be done to change the system.Except destroy it from within.Which is why the dark web is such a threat to government and a boon to freedom.In the past, the cycle we are in would have eventually resulted in a Hitler or Stalin or Mao.  But now, thanks to the chaos inherent in the Internet, it will result in a redistribution of power and an awakining of freedom.The analysis isn't easy, but it's essential to understand if you want to know what is about to hit you.  Thieves Emporium was written to give it to you in the form of an easy-to-read fast-hitting novel that's technically accurate.Get your hands on a copy.

In reply to by giovanni_f

c2nnib2l Fri, 07/14/2017 - 05:02 Permalink

well I've been to dark web many times over the years. Recently it was alphabay that I used but this was either shut down or it was a scam.  It's like an illegal ebay. not much differwnce. you shop put things to your basket pay with crypto currency and give them your address or drop address. encrypted with military technology and only you and vendor know the code apart from the things mentioned for sale this hitman thing is a legend bullshit thing but they are other amazing services and things available on deepweb that i've seen but but never used it but those people have amazing reviews and good feedback as I said its like ebay   you can buy yourself netflix or hbo account for a lifetime for $ 1.99 of course its hacked but think about how much do you pay for this per month ?  that applies to any online subscryption you can imagine you place an order and they deliver anything you want another thing they sell tips on trading yesss ! they do there is a group of hackers out there that broke into some top people on wallstreet emails and large investors and they are selling tips from that email by sending you that emial with person name  for 60 $ on 40% return up to 100% 200% return for bigger profit same with sporting bets you want to order a pizza for 2 $ ? no problem just say which pizza you want and trom which place ! pay with btc  holidays ? with stolen airmiles accounts you pay them 30% for a hotel or a fligjt yup car hire ? not a problem shop vouchers ? not a problem 10% value its all there and more   

Centerist c2nnib2l Fri, 07/14/2017 - 06:16 Permalink

<Sarcasm>Hey, what's wrong with buying stolen property?  Using stolen credit card numbers and account data to buy cheap shit is great.  It sucks for individuals who lost time and money so that you could get your cheap, stolen shit, but that's all okay.  It's not like you suffered their pain.<Sarcasm>

In reply to by c2nnib2l

Sam.Spade c2nnib2l Fri, 07/14/2017 - 07:04 Permalink

So, project the dots.Where do you think people will go for information when the "Fake News" thing shuts down sites like this one?  Or the economy crashes and the government starts taxing everything everyone owns out of existence? In other words, where the only way to survive, much less fight back, is to become anonymous in everything said, done, or earned?Thieves Emporium has been called the first true novel of the dark web.  I think that's because its not based on some bullshit liberal arts fantasy, but solid technical analysis.  In fact, The Daily Anarchist called it "Barely Fiction".The editors of The Daily Bell loved it so much that they published it as a serial which you can still read for free at…, you can just buy a copy at Amazon (rated 4.6 in 122 reviews), Nook (same rating, fewer reviews), Smashwords (ditto), or iBooks.But however you get your hands on it, start reading it now.  Because, until you do, you won't ever even begin to understand the real conflict that is about to explode in our world.Like Everyman Hacker vs The Deep State.You don't really think the Russians hacked the DNC emails, do you?

In reply to by c2nnib2l

Sam.Spade LA_Goldbug Sat, 07/15/2017 - 07:19 Permalink

If you accept that, they will.  But if you choose to go to outside (and eventually illegal) sources for your operating system and browser, as well as the tools that allow you to communicate anonymously, then you don't have to put up with it.In other words, everyone is shortly going to have to choose:  Either become a data serf by following the law or become an anonymous but free criminal.The details are not obvious.  That's why Thieves Emporium was written.

In reply to by LA_Goldbug

Sneaker98 theSpringZone Fri, 07/14/2017 - 05:58 Permalink

You need a browser capable of accessing .onion sites, such as TOR. safest way is to use the Tails operating system booted from a USB stick. It is also recommended to use a VPN when browsing .onion sites. You can also access it from an Android phone by downloading the Orbot app and Orfox browser. Use a search engine, preferably anonymous like DuckDuckGo, to search for any of the above info to get more details.

In reply to by theSpringZone

pparalegal Fri, 07/14/2017 - 05:43 Permalink

There are always bumps in the former silk road.Illegal-Goods Website AlphaBay Shut Following Law-Enforcement ActionAlphaBay, a dark web marketplace for wares in the "not exactly legal" category, went offline in early July, and many users assumed the admins decided to make away with their money. But a new report from The Wall Street Journal claims that AlphaBay was actually taken down in a coordinated action by the authorities in the U.S., Canada and Thailand. Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen and allegedly one of the site's operators, was arrested in the bust, WSJ's sources claim. There will be no trial for him, though, as he was found hanged in his cell in Thailand on Wednesday. Two raids related to the bust were also carried out in Canada, Montreal Gazette reports. The details on the bust are scarce. But it's not hard to imagine why the authorities would want to shut down AlphaBay.  Launched in 2014, the site was accessible only on the dark web and accepted two forms of cryptocurrency: Bitcoin and the anonymity-oriented Monero. It allowed users to purchase or sell drugs, guns, stolen user data and other illegal goods.…