Letter to the Editor, December 2018

Letter to the Editor

To the Staff of The Tiger Print:

Let me start this by saying thank you for hearing my criticism. I recently acquired [October’s] copy of the school newspaper and I’ve got some criticism on the article “Diving Deep” that I think should be known.

First of all, you have the accurate-to-a-degree image to show the different amounts of the internet. You got the surface web correct, but not so much the deep and dark webs. While, yes, the deep web does contain the information you stated, it also contains a lot more. You see, the deep web includes literally everything you can’t find through a search engine. This means anything you need a direct link to, or is pay-walled/ password protected, is part of the deep web. The dark web is easily explained like this: the dark net’s version of the deep web. This makes everything for the next few moments easier to understand, I’ll get on my soapbox for a little bit.

The USA government realized the regular internet wasn’t the most private way of getting information, to say the least. To solve this they created an overlay network, a system on top of the internet that would encrypt what you do, thus allowing more anonymity. They soon realized, however, that if they kept this overlay technology to themselves, people would know when the CIA or some other government agency was looking at their websites based on pings coming in over the overlay. To make the system truly anonymous, everyone would need access to it, so they released the technology for their overlay network which used special technology called onion routing, thus the name Tor, aka The Onion Router, came to be. Because it used this specific technology, it is classified as a darknet.

People can use Tor for very legitimate and everyday needs, but then comes in the dark web. Earlier I said that the dark web was like the darknet’s deep web. Now that you know what a darknet is, and more specifically Tor, I can explain what the dark web is. Like the deep web, to get to the dark web you need a direct link — but with the dark web, you also have to be using a darknet. These direct link sites for the dark web are known as hidden services and, on Tor specifically, a little over half contain the illicit content you showed on the graph (this is only Tor websites from a study in early 2016), while the other half is completely licit. Simply stating that it’s all illicit would be untruthful. OK, I’m off my soapbox — about that at least.

Next in the paragraph below, you quickly contradict your own graph. You say in the graph that 4% is public and 96% isn’t, but the paragraph says 5% is public while 95% isn’t. This, however, is completely covered up by the fact that these are mere estimations. On a side note, you never mention that CSOonline’s study was an estimation. By the deep web’s very nature, it is impossible to know where the percentages lie. You can count the surface and dark web’s count by locating the servers and such, but you can’t do the same thing with the deep web. It is entirely possible that the surface and dark web combined make up less than 1% of the internet.

Also, let me state again, the entirety of the dark web [being] illicit simply isn’t true. Along with that comes with the fact that we don’t know if they are actually real. Any person can create a hidden service for any reason. For example, a murder-for-hire site was once hacked and emails from the admins were released stating the site was a scam against criminals, and all of the orders were forwarded to police. But, who knows — the hack could have also been faked.

Now to the meat of the article: You are correct that you need a dark net-like Tor, but I wouldn’t classify them as browsers. These safety precautions are fine and all, but due to the encryption and anonymity of darknets, the precautions aren’t needed. Just follow the normal rules (don’t click shady links, don’t download shady things, and don’t talk to shady people) and you’ll be fine. Erasing your computer, though, seems like a little much.

To the interviews: Oh boy, the red rooms. You should have stated that it’s just an urban legend. The sneaking-in videos, while I won’t say it’s not possible to find that, it sounds like that was straight-up ripped from a scene in the second “Unfriended” movie where the kids find a video of a guy doing that exact thing: sneaking into a kid’s room and smiling at the camera. The calls would, again, only happen if she was extremely clumsy with what she said or did on the dark web. It’s the same thing with the “changing your IP:” Tor already encrypts your web traffic, thus you’d have to be really clumsy for someone to track you. Putting your computer on full screen wouldn’t do anything as far as I know.

Lastly, while it’s possible for sites to have a lot of barriers to entry, the vast majority can be accessed using just the direct link. It’s really not interconnected, [but] it is still possible some of these sites require you to be in a community. Another misconception is saying that the internet is a small part with a vast criminal underground. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as the dark web already makes up a very small part of the internet, and the criminal part is even smaller. Also, to blame a Netflix hack on the dark web — while it’s possible the dark web is responsible, it’s highly unlikely. Finally, you aren’t going to get hacked or targeted just for accessing the dark web. You have to be clumsy to let that happen.

Sincerely,

Matthew Lane, Class of 2022