The Deep Web, Dark Web, And The Darknet Marketplaces

There’s been a lot of confusion in the media about two similar terms – Dark Web and Deep Web. What journalists usually refer to as the Deep Web is basically the opposite of it, the Dark Web and vice versa. Dark Web usually has a negative connotation due to a number of Darknet Markets that occupy a significant part of the Internet.

Deep Web
Deep Web
But, before we dive into semantic of the terms in question, namely Deep Web, Dark Web, and Darknet Markets, allow us to bring in yet another one – Surface Web (believe it or not, we’re introducing this new term to try and unscramble all the others).

Surface Web represents everything that can be indexed and accessed by standard search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. Because the data are so readily accessible, this layer is considered to be the surface of a huge ocean of information, ocean we like to call – the Internet.

On the other hand, beneath that surface, there is a vast ocean of non-indexed data – hence the term Deep Web. So, a very simplified view is that Deep Web represents everything that cannot be indexed by search engines.

Namely, in order to index pages and websites, search engines only use links. Everything beyond that is considered Deep Web. However, certain parts of websites can be accessed only by using search boxes which is the case with universities’ and government’s websites and these are also in the Deep Web realm!

The term was coined by Mike Bergman, a computer scientist, back in 2000 and has been used ever since.

Dark Web

Finally, the most notorious of the terms, Dark Web. According to Brightplanet, Dark Web is considered just a small part of Deep Web. It’s been deliberately hidden and can be accessed only by using special web browsers, such as Tor browser. It is the place where all the nasty takes place, booooo!

As mentioned so many times, a way to access Dark Web is through Tor Network, which has its own, specialized browser simply called Tor Browser. Tor renders its users, both website owners and visitors, with high degree of anonymity; their IP addresses are hidden and encrypted inside a multilayer router network and it is almost impossible to track anyone down by using the conventional methods.

However, not all Darknet Markets are located on Tor Network; for example, Silk Road Reloaded uses I2P, an alternative to Tor network. I2P stands for the Invisible Internet Project, and the cryptocurrencies that support I2P at the moment are, surprisingly not bitcoin, but Anoncoin and Monero.

Despite its notorious reputation, Dark Web offers a number of good things to its users. Lots of bloggers and journalists, for example, use it for communication with whistleblowers and trusted sources who often come from the countries with very limited freedom of speech.

Darknet Markets

Emerging of the Dark Web has opened possibilities for new, internet-based businesses. And as it often happens, people will always find a way to misuse something good; the Dark Web is not an exception to the rule. It’s full of illegal markets, where you can buy drugs, weapons, child pornography, counterfeit IDs and all sorts of illegal services like hacking, and even order a murder.

Goods and services on the Darknet Markets can be purchased with bitcoins, which is the first and the most widely used cryptocurrency. The same way you can’t be traced while browsing the Dark Web, you also cannot be traced while making transactions using bitcoins. The only trouble with bitcoin is its instable exchange rate – one day it can be worth more than $1,000, and the other its value can dramatically drop to $200. Currently, one bitcoin is valued nearly $400.

History of Darknet Markets

The Deep WebThe first and the most celebrated market was definitely Silk Road. It was founded by a 31-year-old libertarian, Ross Ulbricht. Launched in January 2011, its development had begun six months earlier. The idea behind the Silk Road project was allegedly to clean up the streets from crime by transferring drug dealers from dark alleys to Darknet Markets, thus creating a safer environment for vendors and users. This obviously sounded like a great and well-intended idea in Ulbricht’s mind and perhaps he really believed he was doing something for the good of the world; however, the judge who ultimately sentenced him to 2 life sentences didn’t seem to share his enthusiasm.

Ulbricht was arrested in October 2013 by the FBI who caught him red-handed while he was logged in on Silk Road admin page. It is estimated that the total revenue generated from the sales on the Silk Road was around 9,519,664 bitcoins (roughly $3.6 billion at the current bitcoin exchange rate). Ross Ulbricht, the pioneer of the Darknet Markets, is considered the most responsible for making Deep Web and Dark Web subjects of the mainstream media.

After the fall of Silk Road, many new Darknet Markets tried to find their place under the sun; Silk Road 2.0 among others. It looked more or less the same as its older brother and even employed the original staff members of the previous Silk Road. However, Silk Road 2.0, together with 26 other Darknet Markets, was seized by the Law Enforcements in the Operation Onymous in 2014.

As expected and despite this massive arrest operation, new Darknet Markets continue to emerge. Some of today’s best known Darknet Markets are definitely AlphaBay and Dream Market (Darknet Markets Agora and Abraxas being out of the game). Agora was one of the most respected Darknet Markets, but they retreated allegedly due to some security glitches in the Tor Network. AlphaBay has recently announced that they have the largest community on the Dark Web, while Dream Market being founded in 2013 is considered the oldest existing market on the Dark Web. Many Darknet Markets have performed exit scams taking for themselves the bitcoins trapped in escrows, while others continue to work diligently on securing the community’s trust.

All of them still use escrow and review systems developed by Ross Ulbricht; and while some Darknet Markets are successful in that, many have failed – they have been either seized by the FBI or taken down by competition.

What Is Dream Market?

Introduction

To be able to understand what Dream Market is, it’s important to define what the darknet is. The Darknet is a private network (with restricted access) used mainly for illegal peer-to-peer file sharing. Dream Market can be defined as a feature-rich escrow darknet marketplace that can be accessed via the Tor network and the transactions are carried out using the bitcoin currency. The market was established in November 2013 and has so far been proven to be secure and reliable.

DreamMarket-HomeDream Market was created to support free market trade globally regardless of jurisdiction. As a result, the market doesn’t follow any local regulation restrictions. It is therefore possible to find products which aren’t legally available in your country. Nevertheless, it’s completely up to you to decide whether you will order such products or not. The implications of such purchases are completely up to you outside the marketplace although Dream Market takes measures to protect buyers i.e. by allowing bitcoin transactions only to enhance anonymity while preventing fraudulent transactions.

Participation guidelines

Getting an invite

First and foremost, it’s important to note that Dream Market is an invite-only marketplace. You’ll therefore need an invite to become a member.

Identifying trustworthy vendors

In regards to the actual buying process, all members are expected to be honest on all issues from product quality to shipping conditions and package delivery. These guidelines have been set to maintain trust in the marketplace which is the major basis of all hidden web marketplaces. In an effort to keep scammers away, trusted vendors have labels which are a sign of advanced trusted status.

Trusted vendor label bearers have a long history of positive buyer relations and successful transactions. In a nutshell, they have been tested by many and proven to be trustworthy. It is however important to note that there are trustworthy vendors who may lack trusted vendor status. Such vendors are most likely new or they simply haven’t applied for the trusted vendor status.

Using Bitcoins
accepting-bitcoinsAs mentioned above, Dream Market accepts bitcoins and use Tor for anonymity as well as avoiding fraud. Once you send your bitcoins to your unique Dream Market wallet address, your bitcoin deposit will reflect immediately or after a few minutes after which you can go ahead and buy whatever you want. In case you aren’t familiar with bitcoin usage, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the subject before using the Dream Market.

Using Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and Escrow

Although Dream Market takes many measures to protect all members, it’s advisable to use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP); a data encryption/decryption software that offers cryptographic privacy & authentication for data communication. PGP is highly recommended on Dream Market since you may be required to provide personal info such as your postal address. PGP allows you to ensure only the vendor in question can read your personal information i.e. postal address. As a result, your personal info is kept safe from leaking to any organization including Dream Market. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with PGP before using the Dream Market.

Escrow is another safe and universal method of ordering online. When ordering via escrow, the money isn’t transferred directly to the vendor in question after the checkout. Instead, the money is locked. Vendors are paid after customers have received their orders and finalized everything from the shopping cart page. As a result, you also need Escrow to protect yourself from being scammed on Dream Market.

The actual ordering process

Once your bitcoin deposit is confirmed, you can start ordering anything provided your balance is adequate enough to cover the cost. When ordering on Dream Market, the vendor receives the order information immediately. As a result, you don’t need to perform any other action at this point. Vendors must however be online to see new orders.

In case you have any open orders which haven’t been finalized, it’s important to check your message box regularly to see if there are any open questions from the vendor. The actual ordering process ends when you receive your package. You must finalize the order to release the escrow so that your vendor is paid.

You can also rate your vendor and leave adequate feedback when finalizing your order. Although it is important to be as honest as possible when rating vendors and leaving feedback, negative feedback should be given after contacting a vendor and giving him/her the chance to resolve the issue/s.

Listings

Dream Market has a variety of both legal and illegal listings such as recreational drugs like ecstasy, cannabis and prescription medicines. You will also find listings like counterfeit clothing, jewelry and accessories as well as many other legal items like pepper spray, privacy software, etc.

Forbidden Products & Services

Although there are plenty of illegal product and service listings on Dream Market, there are forbidden products and services as well. Such FORBIDDEN products & services include;

a.    Child pornography
b.    Live action snuff or murder or hurt audio, video or images
c.    Poisons
d.    WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) i.e. biological, chemical weapons,         explosives, etc.
e.    Assassination services among any other services which can cause harm to others.

Dispute resolution

In case of any problems i.e. you don’t receive your order, you can open a dispute. It is however advisable to contact the vendor in question and try to resolve the issue. Disputes should be open when you are dealing with an uncooperative vendor. You can open a dispute by clicking the dispute link situated on the order detail page linked in your catalogue view.

All in all, Dream Market is a great market when compared against the other darknet markets on the Deep Web. One big benefit is that it is not the most popular so it won’t be law enforcement’s top priority and the Dream Market admin won’t be looking to pull an exit scam on its users.