Las Vegas Convention Center

The Dark Web: Protecting Brand, Reputation, and Assets

The Dark Web: Protecting Brand, Reputation, and Assets

What makes the dark web?

By Cynthia Hetherington, The Hetherington Group

The Dark Web, or darknet, is classified as a small portion of the World Wide Web that has been intentionally hidden and is inaccessible through standard web browsers. There is no “darknet Google.” Darknet sites are often put up and taken down within a matter of minutes specifically to maintain anonymity. The entire drive behind the dark web is anonymity—and privacy.

The most famous content that resides on the Dark Web is found in The Onion Router (Tor) network, accessed with a special web browser, called the Tor browser (www.torproject.org). This is the portion of the Internet most widely known for illicit activities because of the anonymity that the Tor network gives.

The backbone of the WWW works because there are online directories, known as domain nameserver (DNS), handing off your search requests to the real location of the site. It’s often easy to remember a domain name—especially if it’s a catchy name. But it’s the Internet Protocol (IP) address—the number—associated with the URL name that is the true language the Internet understands. For example, you type in hetheringtongroup.com and hit Enter. Up pops the website for the Hetherington Group. But what’s truly happening is this: the browser sends your hetheringtongroup.com address to a DNS and is handed back the actual IP address, which is 209.177.145.48, and at the same time takes you to the Hetherington Group website. To better understand, try typing in 209.177.145.48 and hit Enter. You will be taken to the Hetherington Group website. But hetheringtongroup.com is a heck of a lot easier to remember than 209.177.145.48, eh?

On the darknet, however, there are no DNS servers. You must know where you want to go and what you are looking for; you must have those specific coordinates beforehand to locate what you want on the darknet. Otherwise you will not find it. More importantly, it can’t be indexed or mapped, which is what makes it anonymous.

With caution, a good way to start eyeballing the dark web is to try a few websites that try to create a searchable platform. Some of those beginner websites are:

• The Hidden Wiki (torhiddenwiki.com): It’s like Wikipedia for dark web content, or Yahoo’s subject directory.
• Onion Link (onion.link): Uses Google’s API on the links and content they have located. A search on, say, puppies in surface web Google would give very different results than the same search would give on Onion Link.

These accessible sites and others that lead to your assets and brands, are the type of practical dark net matter we will be sharing September 25 at GSX 2018! Join me for Session #5105, The Dark Web: Protecting Brand, Reputation, and Assets.