What is the dark web? How is it different from clear web and deep web? 

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What is the dark web? How is it different from clear web and deep web? 

The dark web is like a secret door that unlocks a different world (or the World Wide Web), which is not indexed by regular Internet search engines and requires a fair amount of software and secret codes/authentication to access.  

It is like that door in the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia”, where kids find an entirely different world behind their wardrobe.  

Instead of a world like Narnia, the dark web opens to somewhere cybercriminals sell drugs, fake identities, weapons, and all kinds of stuff you cannot even imagine.  

Now you must be wondering “what is the dark web used for?” 

There are marketplaces on the dark web, where they sell services, products, and contrabands unavailable in other markets.  

The dark web is not just accessed by cybercriminals, it is also used by journalists, whistleblowers, and more privacy-concerned users.  

In the world of cybersecurity, threat experts categorize the internet into three – the clear web, the deep web, and the dark web.  

Clearweb  That part of the internet which is easily accessible by everyone through public search engines.   Some common examples including – websites, pages, blogs, media, etc., through public search engines.  
Deep web The part of the internet which incudes websites/pages that do not show up in a search engine-based search requiring specific addresses and credentials to gain access.   Some common examples include the intranet you use at work, sites where only members can access content, confidential pages, etc. 
Dark Web It is harder to access requiring specific codes, addresses, credentials and software to access  Common examples include data breach forums, hacker-for-hire webpages, illegal contraband marketplace, guns and ammo store etc.  

The difference between dark web and deep web is that dark web is 0.01% of the deep web, requiring even more specific codes, addresses, credentials, and software to access, like the Tor browser, which is software that makes users anonymously browse the internet through different layers of identities, also known as onion networks.  

How do cybercriminals operate in the dark web? 

Cybercriminals use dark web marketplaces and forums to buy malware, compromised credentials (like usernames, passwords, & banking information), drugs, and other forms of contraband. Recently, there has been a rise in cyberattack-as-a-service or hacking-as-a-service.  

The most common example is ransomware-as-a-service and selling tools like Fraud GPT, a malicious tool used for creating malware that is harder to detect.  

Some interesting facts about the dark web 

  • Malware with a medium-success rate is sold on the dark web for prices between $115 to $1200. 
  • AI chatbots are on the rise in dark web markets including Worm GPT which is used for phishing and Business Email Compromise (BEC) Attacks. 
  • Zero-day exploits are sold for more than $10000 on dark web marketplaces and forums.  
  • Germany had the highest number of Tor users (47%) in 2023 before the United States with 21% 

How is trust established in a world of cybercrime? 

Cybercriminals have a well-established structure of authentication. For example, a typical dark web forum may consist of an admin who oversees everything and acts as a moderator of the forum, an escrow that provides payment services, and a blacklist who acts as an arbitrator between parties. 

What are dark web marketplaces? What are they used for? 

Dark web marketplaces are unlike any other online marketplaces where verified vendors (with buyers backing their claims) offer goods and services that can range from selling contrabands like drugs, weapons, illegal medicines, etc. to hacking services and contract killing services.  

Just like any other online marketplaces, dark web marketplaces also comprise verified vendors, members, payment service providers, and arbitrators.  

Here are some common marketplaces found in the dark web. 

Data breach forum 

Details of the breach along with the size of information available for sale 

Weapons marketplace on dark web 

Drugs marketplace 


Why is HUMINT an essential part of cybersecurity? 

Having an expensive cutting-edge technological solution is not enough to secure an organization from cybercriminals and to know how the dark web works. It is critical to make use of intelligence given by law enforcement and intelligence agencies who disguise themselves as cybercriminals on the dark web to extract information. It is known as human intelligence, and it serves as a critical resource for understanding the workings of the world of cybercriminals. 

Dark web monitoring with STRIEGO 

SharkStriker’s robust security platform STRIEGO comes with in-built dark-web monitoring. The platform continuously scans the dark web for exposure to any sensitive information that could be leveraged by cyber criminals to target an organization.  

It empowers security teams to proactively gain threat intelligence to step up their cyber defenses as per the latest threat tactics, techniques, tools, and procedures. 


Discover all the capabilities
of STRIEGO specific to your
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