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Google's AlphaGo on Tuesday rocked the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence when it beat 18-time international Go champion Lee Se-dol the final round of the Google DeepMind Challenge.

 

DeepMind Challenge Match 5
DeepMind Challenge Match 5: AlphaGo vs. Lee Se-dol
Lee lost the first three rounds last week but came back and won the fourth game.

 

One criticism of AI programs is that they have done well relying on logical inferences based on heuristics and memory, but they lack intuition and can't learn from their mistakes or derive new knowledge without human programming.

AlphaGo's victory changes that, according to Mike Jude, program manager, Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

Go "depends as much on logic, like chess, as it does on intuition," he told TechNewsWorld. "The results of this competition imply that AlphaGo has transcended the brute-force approaches to solving games of logic."

 

Learning to Run

 

The AI solutions Google has been working on through deep learning "were very good at stuff like Pong, where you had to do an action right then, but didn't do so well in games like Pac-Man, where you had to plan something out, because the learning solutions they have so far were based around reaction and not planning," observed Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

 

"With Pac-Man, you have to be able to plan ahead for various interactions, and it changes every moment," he told TechNewsWorld.

 

AlphaGo does demonstrate the possibility that AI systems eventually might be capable of intuitive thought, but "we're in the infancy of developing these solutions, and the algorithms we've developed have been in response to some kind of stimulus -- you get the data, how do you recognize it, what you do with it," McGregor said.

 

That doesn't mean researchers won't be able to incorporate long-term planning into AI systems, "but you have to learn to walk before you can run," he noted.

 

Humans Still Rule

 

The human brain "can change its configuration on the fly; computers can't do that," McGregor pointed out.

 

AI systems "are all about learning," he said. "They're about creating an algorithm to do a specific thing or things, and even then it takes a long time to succeed."

 

IBM's Watson -- which won Jeopardy and is being used to help treat lung cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center -- is being taught to perform image analysis and recognize anomalies in people's medical images in the context of broader information such as data from their Fitbits.

 

"Both are deep learning neural network-based systems," said Frost & Sullivan's Jude, but "Watson was developed to be an artificial general intelligence system -- that is, domain indifferent -- while AlphaGo is a special-purpose system designed to play Go."

 

Possible Uses for AlphaGo

 

Any application that requires a response to a complex, changing environment would benefit from AI technology such as AlphaGo's, Jude suggested. That includes health, weather prediction and market analysis.

 

AI has the most potential in scientific research, McGregor contended.

 

In medicine, researchers could develop massive databases of how one protein or chemical interacts with others, which would allow algorithms to be built much faster. Databases of digital medical records and diagnoses could be built and input into AI programs, which would revolutionize diagnosis, he said.

 

Semiconductor research is another possibility. "Right now, we're taking the periodic table and experimenting with all the elements we can to improve semiconductor technology. Think of what we could do with research in terms of modeling," McGregor pointed out.

 

"The best way to use AI is where we're very limited in what we can process and how," he said.

 

Source:  http://www.technewsworld.com/story/83235.html

 

Learning to Run

The AI solutions Google has been working on through deep learning "were very good at stuff like Pong, where you had to do an action right then, but didn't do so well in games like Pac-Man, where you had to plan something out, because the learning solutions they have so far were based around reaction and not planning," observed Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

"With Pac-Man, you have to be able to plan ahead for various interactions, and it changes every moment," he told TechNewsWorld.

AlphaGo does demonstrate the possibility that AI systems eventually might be capable of intuitive thought, but "we're in the infancy of developing these solutions, and the algorithms we've developed have been in response to some kind of stimulus -- you get the data, how do you recognize it, what you do with it," McGregor said.

That doesn't mean researchers won't be able to incorporate long-term planning into AI systems, "but you have to learn to walk before you can run," he noted.

Humans Still Rule

The human brain "can change its configuration on the fly; computers can't do that," McGregor pointed out.

AI systems "are all about learning," he said. "They're about creating an algorithm to do a specific thing or things, and even then it takes a long time to succeed."

IBM's Watson -- which won Jeopardy and is being used to help treat lung cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center -- is being taught to perform image analysis and recognize anomalies in people's medical images in the context of broader information such as data from their Fitbits.

"Both are deep learning neural network-based systems," said Frost & Sullivan'sJude, but "Watson was developed to be an artificial general intelligence system -- that is, domain indifferent -- while AlphaGo is a special-purpose system designed to play Go."

Possible Uses for AlphaGo

Any application that requires a response to a complex, changing environment would benefit from AI technology such as AlphaGo's, Jude suggested. That includes health, weather prediction and market analysis.

AI has the most potential in scientific research, McGregor contended.

In medicine, researchers could develop massive databases of how one protein or chemical interacts with others, which would allow algorithms to be built much faster. Databases of digital medical records and diagnoses could be built and input into AI programs, which would revolutionize diagnosis, he said.

Semiconductor research is another possibility. "Right now, we're taking the periodic table and experimenting with all the elements we can to improve semiconductor technology. Think of what we could do with research in terms of modeling," McGregor pointed out.

"The best way to use AI is where we're very limited in what we can process and how," he said.

Categorized in Search Engine

 

Google launched Gboard, its keyboard app for iOS, on Thursday, and it is currently sitting in the top spot in the App Store’s chart of free apps. Among other things, Gboard brings Google search into any app with the press of the “G” icon. This, of course, could also mean bringing Google search ads to any app.

For example, one can easily envision AdWords search ads extending into these results in the Twitter app for [restaurants near me]. However, a Google Spokesperson tells Search Engine Land, “We have no current plans around ads in Gboard.”

 

 

gboard search results in twitter

 

“Current plans” leaves a lot of ambiguity, of course. Currently this week? Currently this month or year? It’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario in which Google would not be looking at this as an eventual ad vehicle. The big argument Google has faced in the age of mobile and the rise of native in-stream ads is that apps are where users spend their time, not browsers, leaving Google out in the cold. But Gboard brilliantly puts Google anywhere users are spending time on their phones — and yes, that includes Facebook.

 

google search results in facebook

 

 

Or imagine quickly searching Google from within the Amazon app to see if you can find a better deal. That experience doesn’t quite pay off now, because Gboard just brings up links to retail sites. But it might, if product ads were enabled.

 

gboard search results amazon

 

 

If Google can can build a critical user base for Gboard, it could have a dramatic impact on search behavior and give Google the monetization answer it’s been looking for on mobile. We’ll have to wait to see how long “current” lasts.

 

Designed for advanced, hard core search marketers, Search Engine Land's SMX Advanced returns to Seattle, WA June 22-23! Join other search marketing pros in taking expert tactics, tips and techniques to the next level! The agenda is jam-packed with ROI-boosting tactics that you'll bring back and implement immediately. Register by May 21 to lock in low rates.

 

 

Categorized in Search Engine

Charles Sweeney asks, are your staff inadvertently leaving the back door open via an innocent lunch-time browse?


The underbelly of the internet, known as the deep web, is 500 times the size of what we call the surface web – that which can be searched and indexed by the likes of Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Media reports concerning the deep web have often focused on the most harrowing stories from the hidden internet; ‘Silk Road' (already operating as Silk Road 2.0) and House of Cards' portrayal of a secretive organisation of readily available hacking specialists to name but two. Based on this hysteria it is no surprise that businesses can often fail to realise the clear and present danger that the deep web poses to their organisation.

 

Search engines work by using automated ‘spiders', otherwise known as crawlers or bots. These programmes trawl through web pages, following and noting hyperlinks, then analysing the pages' content in programmes that lead us to relevant information when we search. Sounds innocent enough, but without realising it you've entered the initial layers of the deep web. Take Amazon for example – every time you log in and search for a product, the page contains previous searches, related searches, searches you may be interested in and your own details and account links. In other words, the pages are dynamic; they are created because you have searched for them, meaning they are the ‘deep web'. The OEDB estimates that around 99.6 percent of internet content can be classified as ‘deep.'

 

So if that's the deep web, then what's all the fuss? Apply the theory behind the six degrees of separation and you soon realise that you are closer to the darker side of the web than you might think. There are multiple layers to the deep web. First stop Amazon and various other harmless sources such as Captcha-protected pages and archived news stories, but just a few stations up the line is the ‘Dark Web' or ‘The Midden'. This is where the deep web's innocuous initial levels give way and any number of things can come crawling out. All it takes is a peek into this (which can often happen inadvertently and without you even being aware) to leave a trace that a hacker can follow upwards into your business.

 

But what do these dark areas of hitmen-for-hire, stolen credit card numbers and illegal content have to do with your business? This is where it can be easy to be blasé. It's important to remember that while areas of the dark web may not want to be found, they certainly want to find you, and it has several tricks up its sleeve to lure you in. It is a digital game of cloak and dagger, and unless you've taken the correct precautions, it is a game that you'll lose.

 

Traditional security measures give little protection from these dynamic and often hidden threats from the deep web. Because they aren't engineered around real time technology, they open up a window of opportunity. The slightest delay in a site being monitored and shut down, coupled with the rise of proxy servers to bypass workplace firewalls, sites can long go unnoticed by web filters until they've caused damage and need to be acted against retroactively, can wreck havoc.

 

It fundamentally doesn't matter whether the deep web is accessed deliberately or inadvertently; the risk of not being properly protected is far too large a problem for a business to ignore. All it takes is one bored lunchtime browse, or a singular piece of information sent to a site masquerading as something else, and hackers and malware can easily find their way through an unlocked back-door into your company.

 

Source : http://www.scmagazineuk.com/the-dungeon-of-the-deep-web-where-even-the-spiders-dare-not-travel/article/361546/

Categorized in Deep Web

Hollywood has caught on to the plot-thickening abilities of the so-called Deep Web. It’s the part of the Internet -- which is most of it, in fact -- that is inaccessible by your average search engine.

“House of Cards” and “The Good Wife” are just a couple of shows that have put the Deep Web at the centre of their plotlines. But the average Internet user may not know what it is, what information it holds and whether or not they can access it.

Here’s a quick primer on the Deep Web, and what it means for you. 

What is the Deep Web, and how is it different from the “regular” Internet?

“The simple way of putting it is that there’s two parts to the Internet,” cyber security expert Patrick Malcolm told CTV’s Canada AM. “There’s a part that the search engines search, or index, and that’s a very tiny part of the Internet, and then everything else is the Deep Web. So it’s the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg that we search with things like Google.”

Google says it only searches 0.004 per cent of the entire Internet, Malcolm notes, so it’s “a very small, tiny piece of the internet that’s being indexed for browsing.”

Can anyone access the Deep Web?

The short answer is yes, Malcolm says.

“The deep web includes things like password-protected areas, or privacy settings on social media,” he says. “The Internet is not indexing those parts of the Internet, but it’s still accessible by people such as yourself.”

Other content that resides in the Deep Web include pages that pop up when you submit a question or information via an online form and sites that have used code to limit access to their content.

What is the difference between the Deep Web and the Dark Web?

“When we think about the Internet’s dark web we’re now talking about the more anonymous part of the Internet,” Malcolm says.

A lot of good can happen in the Dark Web, he says, “but a lot of bad as well.”

“The good part could be maybe law enforcement is conducting an operation or military units are communicating using operational secrecy, or perhaps dissidents in a country are trying to communicate about their government, which is monitoring their Internet communications,” Malcom says. Journalists may also receive documents from whistleblowers via the Dark Web.

However, the Dark Web can also be used for everything from arms trafficking to drug sales to the distribution of child pornography because it cannot be accessed by traditional means.  

Source: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/diving-into-the-deep-web-what-is-it-and-can-you-access-it-1.1817334

Categorized in Deep Web

To someone who has just recently begun using the internet, the internet might seem vast. It contains almost everything a person requires. However, most people are probably unaware that the part of internet they can view is just less than 10% of all what is available online. By using a conventional search engine a person is merely skimming the surface, or viewing the “Surface Web”, which is a fraction of the Web that is indexed by standard search engines. The actual internet is 500 times bigger, and most of it lies in the Deep Web.

According to The Guardian, only 0.03% is accessible via Google and Bing, and the rest becomes a part of the deep web. Deep web is accessed through specialized deep web browsers and tools used for this purpose, which often ensure your anonymity as well.

Some of the tools you can use to access the deep web include:

  • Turbo10: A meta search engine that allows you to search more than 800 deep web search engines
  • BusinessResearch: Explores the business information stored in deep web
  • MedNets: Easily accessible information for healthcare professionals
  • Databases A-Z: A list containing open and closed access databases for research

Tor is also an example of such a tool. It is often used synonymously with Deep Web. Tor – The Onion Router – is a software which was introduced by privacy advocates initially. It was originally used by users who prefer to browse anonymously, and didn’t want their information to be accessed and stored by Google.  Now it is used by those who want to maintain privacy while browsing online as well as those who engage in illegal activities such as black market transactions. It is important to keep clear of these illegal content available in order to discover the hidden gems on the deep web.

Experts agree that Tor is the best tool for people with an urgent need for anonymity. When we use a browser such as Google Chrome, we are directly connected to the information. However, on the contrary, using a browser like Tor, the request for information would be bounced through several servers, before arriving at the desired page making the movements harder to trace.

Deep Web might attract criminals and criminal activities due to its anonymous nature; however there is also a brighter side to it too. As it contains access to various journals and databases not indexed by a regular search engine, it is a gold mine for the serious researcher. Hence, you may find databases such as JSTOR, National Geographic and other similar websites. It is also used by governments and intelligence agencies to exchange documents in secrecy. Deep web also serves to protect political dissidents overseas in totalitarian regimes and hiding everyday Internet traffic from surveillance.

For the serious researcher, deep web can become extremely useful. It is a powerful research tool, containing high-quality material. However it should be accessed and browsed with caution, since a lot of illegal material is also a part of the deep web. 

 

Categorized in Online Research

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to gathering information on the internet. Depending on the type of research, the rules may vary. An effective information gathering technique can result in better utilization of your time, broaden your perspective by going through various resources, can communicate to your audience with clarity, and enhance your critical thinking skills. Most researchers suggest that the best results are achieved when you start with an outline. That would give you some direction in finding what you want in this vast array of information on the internet. Also, it is suggested that you alter your search as you go along trying out different terms and keywords for your research.

There are five key steps you could follow to achieve best results.

  1. First, be clear of your research direction. You should be knowledgeable about the topic you plan on gathering information. If you are not very familiar with it, it is suggested that you take out a few minutes to browse on the topic. If the topic is too broad, narrow down your topic to make it more specific and manageable.
  1. Second, consider your target audience. Consider how knowledgeable they are on the topic, and decide on the sources you would require accordingly. For example, for a panel of doctors, a medical study would need to be in-depth, citing other studies and experts on the topic. On the contrary, if your audience is the general public, a study has to be presented in a simple format avoiding any jargon. If you are doing a research task for someone else, it is always best to consult them on the type or sources they expect you to use. They can help you in understanding the audience better.
  1. Third, make a rough outline of where you would want to look for material and type of resources you intend to use in your research. You can select from several options such as journal articles, blog posts, online magazines, and publications. This outline, however, should be flexible. You can, and should, modify your outline based on your search as you go along. Change keywords and search tactics depending on the material you retrieve. Be innovative with your search, and follow new directions, and explore new material if you can. While you browse for information, keep an eye out for valuable pieces of information. You often stumble across such information unexpectedly that could be useful to support your case. Nevertheless, make it a point to use varied resources for your research.
  1. Fourth, . All the data that you have collected from various sources is worthless if it is not properly organized. Hence, information organization is a necessary step in information gathering. After you have collated all the information, it is important to index and organize them to use it effectively. Presentation is extremely important in a research task; hence organization of the data makes it easier to properly present your findings.

Hence it is always best to make an outline, evaluate your audience, and consult with your client. The outline gives you direction. However it should be adjustable and you should make amends as you go along and find new material, new concepts, and perspectives. 

 

Categorized in Online Research

BusinessWeek magazine describes it as "perhaps the most effective means of defeating the online surveillance efforts of intelligence agencies around the world". The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) calls it "the king of high-secure, low-latency internet anonymity." Another source describes it as "a tool for anonymous communication that’s so secure that even the world’s most sophisticated electronic spies haven’t figured out how to crack it.”

Some feel threatened by it. Others feel protected by it. Those who feel threatened, try to destroy it. Those who benefit, try to invest on it. Regarded as the “largest deployed anonymity network to date”, Tor’s success as a sophisticated security tool, has dragged it to the forefront of attention from governments, policy makers, media, and many more.

This article explores the Tor browser, its usage and the extent to which it is a useful tool for the regular internet user.

Tor Browser

The Onion Router, aka “Tor” is a network of servers developed to browse the internet anonymously. Initially developed by the US Naval Research Laboratory as a means of protecting government communication, Tor website describe it as a “network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.” It is a free software and an open network that protects users against a common form of internet surveillance known as “traffic analysis”.

Tor Browser allows access to the Tor network. To make the user anonymous, Tor disguises the users' identity by moving the traffic around different Tor servers, thereby encrypting the traffic making it difficult to trace back to the end user. A source compares this process to “a tight huddle of people passing letters around. Once in a while a letter leaves the huddle, sent off to some destination. If you can't see what's going on inside the huddle, you can't tell who sent what letter based on watching letters leave the huddle.” For those who attempt to see where the traffic is coming from, would only see traffic coming from random nodes on the Tor network, rather than the computer of an individual user.

Tor User

The actual reach of Tor is estimated to be 2.5 million daily users, of which majority of users are coming from US and Europe. Russia, Iran, Vietnam, and China are also some of the top countries with users. There is no actual statistics available to estimate the type of people using the Tor network. Yet it is common knowledge that Tor is used by people for both noble and humble means, a distinct factor that defines its user base.

On a positive note, Tor website identifies five categories of Tor users; namely family & friends, businesses, activists, media, military & law enforcement. Families use Tor to preserve their privacy and protect their children when they are online; be it keeping internet activities away from the advertisers, accessing sites that are blocked by the local service provider or participating in socially sensitive communication on chat rooms, web forums, etc.

Journalists use Tor as a secure communication mode with sources and for researching on sensitive topics. Non-governmental organizations use it to connect to their home websites while they are in a foreign land. Activists use it to safeguard their members’ privacy and security online while Corporations use Tor as a safe way to conduct competitive analysis and protect sensitive procurement patterns from eavesdroppers.

Military use Tor to protect their military interests and operations, open source intelligence gathering and to protect themselves from physical harm. Law enforcement uses Tor for visiting or surveilling web sites without leaving government IP addresses in their web logs, and for security during sting operations.

On a negative note, Tor is also used by criminals, drug lords, and hacktivist groups to carry out illegitimate activities. A good example of this is the recently closed down Silk Road, the online black market which operate as Tor hidden service and accessed through Tor browser. The level of anonymity and security guaranteed by Tor leaves ample space for criminals to freely and easily carry out their criminal business and transactions in a secure environment.

Using Tor

Like any other browser, Tor has a simple interface that is very much similar to Firefox. Not surprising, Tor is a Firefox based browser. A source indicates that Tor is Firefox 10 with specific features added to the toolbar. A normal internet user may not find any difference between a regular browser and Tor in terms of its browsing capacity. However, when faced with specific situations where an individual is compelled to seek extra security online to protect himself, Tor could be the ideal choice.

Tor’s key strength lies in its capacity to anonymize the user and its ability to ensure maximum security online. Its security features are considered the best in comparison to other browsers. Even so, Tor is far from perfect mainly on the ground that it is slow in speed and unable to ensure “complete” anonymity. As it goes through so many relays to anonymize the user, Tor is slow compared to other browsers, though my personal experience reveal to the contrary. Moreover, institutions like US National Security Agency (NSA) have the capacity to find the end user if necessary that raise a question about the level of anonymity guaranteed by Tor browser. Tor website explains “Tor can't solve all anonymity problems. It focuses only on protecting the transport of data. You need to use protocol-specific support software if you don't want the sites you visit to see your identifying information.”

Internet user: Anonymity vs. Security?

A regular internet user, who use the internet to browse Facebook, Youtube or any other general information need, may not necessarily require a browser like Tor. The user is concerned about the security of his personal identifying information while on the internet rather than maintaining anonymity online. This kind of online security is possible through enabling security settings on any regular browser. Although anonymity can be a contributing factor for ensuring privacy and security online, only anonymity itself may not guarantee complete security of an internet user. Consequently, Tor becomes particularly significant when the question of “anonymity” comes into the picture.

Why remain anonymous online? Most would perceive that those who have something to hide as well as those who engage in illegitimate activities would prefer to stay anonymous online. As to the general internet user, the anonymity factor becomes significant only in particular situations where the internet poses an actual threat or harm to a person. Again this should be a matter of personal choice where an individual would evaluate a situation and decide the necessity of remaining anonymous on the internet. One’s perception of what you need to protect should determine whether to remain anonymous on the internet. However, even if you have nothing to hide, adopting good security practices and taking every measure to protect yourself when you use the internet is a smart idea. Also in certain scenarios, it is a compulsory requirement, a must on the basis of the task/work we engage on the World Wide Web; whether it is safe communication platform for children, journalists, military or activists.

Conclusion

The growth of the internet in the last two decades have pushed forward the necessity of safeguarding individual online privacy rights as never before. Tor plays a critical role in giving the internet user the choice to remain anonymous thereby increasing privacy and security online. Tor is an ideal gateway for those want to speak and read freely online. It is an avenue for free expression.

Not to forget, Tor is also a gateway for criminals, hackers, and others who engage in unethical activities. Tor’s ability for masking individual identities have led to activities that have become national and global security threats. In this sense, suspicious eye of the governments on Tor users is not a surprise. 

Success of Tor lies in tackling these challenges to ensure the highest security for the regular internet users. The very attitude that Tor is used by “those who have something to hide” should be done away with. Tor image as a safe browser for genuine internet transactions should be uplifted. Tor needs to work on its image as a safe browser for every individual who wishes to take control of their privacy and security back in their hands.

References:

  1. Tor official website - www.torproject.org
  2. Tor Project's struggle to keep the 'dark net' in the shadows - http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28886465
  3. What is Tor and should I use it. - http://lifehacker.com/what-is-tor-and-should-i-use-it-1527891029
  4. Go Online without Getting Snooped: Tor (The Onion Router) – http://www.instructables.com/id/Go-Online-without-Getting-Snooped-Tor-The-Onion-/
  5. Tor stands strong against the NSA, but your browser can bring you down-A Look at The Onion Router (Tor) - http://lwn.net/Articles/138242/Anonymity and the Tor Network - https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/09/anonymity_and_t_1.html 
  6. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2052149/tor-stands-strong-against-the-nsa-but-your-browser-can-bring-you-down.htm
Categorized in Online Research

When you use most search engines, you're just scraping the surface of the World Wide Web. There's much more.

What we commonly call the Web is really just the surface. Beneath that is a vast, mostly uncharted ocean called the Deep Web.

By its very nature, the size of the Deep Web is difficult to calculate. But top university researchers say the Web you know -- Facebook (FB), Wikipedia, news -- makes up less than 1% of the entire World Wide Web. 

When you surf the Web, you really are just floating at the surface. Dive below and there are tens of trillions of pages -- an unfathomable number -- that most people have never seen. They include everything from boring statistics to human body parts for sale (illegally). 

Though the Deep Web is little understood, the concept is quite simple. Think about it in terms of search engines. To give you results, Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO) and Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing constantly index pages. They do that by following the links between sites, crawling the Web's threads like a spider. But that only lets them gather static pages, like the one you're on right now.

What they don't capture are dynamic pages, like the ones that get generated when you ask an online database a question. Consider the results from a query on the Census Bureau site.

"When the web crawler arrives at a [database], it typically cannot follow links into the deeper content behind the search box," said Nigel Hamilton, who ran Turbo10, a now-defunct search engine that explored the Deep Web.

Google and others also don't capture pages behind private networks or standalone pages that connect to nothing at all. These are all part of the Deep Web.

So, what's down there? It depends on where you look.

Infographic: What is the Deep Web

The vast majority of the Deep Web holds pages with valuable information. A report in 2001 -- the best to date -- estimates 54% of websites are databases. Among the world's largest are the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the Patent and Trademark Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR search system -- all of which are public. The next batch has pages kept private by companies that charge a fee to see them, like the government documents on LexisNexis and Westlaw or the academic journals on Elsevier

Another 13% of pages lie hidden because they're only found on an Intranet. These internal networks -- say, at corporations or universities -- have access to message boards, personnel files or industrial control panels that can flip a light switch or shut down a power plant.

Then there's Tor, the darkest corner of the Internet. It's a collection of secret websites (ending in .onion) that require special software to access them. People use Tor so that their Web activity can't be traced -- it runs on a relay system that bounces signals among different Tor-enabled computers around the world. 

 It first debuted as The Onion Routing project in 2002, made by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory as a method for communicating online anonymously. Some use it for sensitive communications, including political dissent. But in the last decade, it's also become a hub for black markets that sell or distribute drugs (think Silk Road), stolen credit cards, illegal pornography, pirated media and more. You can even hire assassins.

While the Deep Web stays mostly hidden from public view, it is growing in economic importance. Whatever search engine can accurately and quickly comb the full Web could be useful for Big Data collection -- particularly for researchers of climate, finance or government records.

Stanford, for example, has built a prototype engine called the Hidden Web Exposer, HiWE. Others that are publicly accessible are Infoplease, PubMed and the University of California's Infomine

Source : money.cnn.com

Categorized in Deep Web

is 38, single, and based in Seattle, Washington. He is going through a wilderness phase in his life, which has made him a drug vendor on hidden online marketplaces. "Right now I'm doing this as I try to steer my life out of its current stasis," says Atheist666 (a Net pseudonym), who studied economics, comparative religion and literature at university. "Maybe someday I'll figure out what I want to do when I grow up." Till then he intends to be a part of a growing community of underground based out of the Deep Web.


Imagine a space where everything is available to you. No authority can dictate what you can or cannot purchase or what information can be shared. A place where there is unlimited freedom. Technology allows such a place to exist. It's called the or Darknet or Hidden Web. Running beneath the World Wide Web of Facebook, and YouTube, the Deep Web is like a vast, dark ocean. The web, in comparison, is like a pond. Every time you sink into the Deep Web, this world fades, and is replaced by one far more terrible and strange. One can deal in drugs, weapons, contract a killer, hire a hacker or meet jihadists here, all completely untraced.

These entrepreneurs claim to be heirs of Austrian economists such as Ludwig von Mises, in the sense that they hold libertarian economic beliefs and deep scepticism of government intervention, especially in the monetary system. For example, most of Deep Web's dealings are in the virtual currency, bitcoin. Unlike conventional currencies, bitcoin's integrity is maintained by the computing power of thousands of users, and not by any bank or government.

But the thrust of the Austrian school of economics is the market forces of creative destruction. Although the Deep Web has seen destruction, it is not always due to market forces. Illegal drugs, goods and services are offered by a marketplace platform, which, unlike an inventory-based forum, brings vendors together rather than stocks products. Silk Road, the largest and possibly first of its kind, was one such. The Federal Bureau of Investigation shut the website, seized its assets, including 26,000 bitcoins, and arrested the alleged owner, 29-year-old Ross Ulbricht, in San Francisco on October 1. Silk Road 2.0 rose in its place, only to announce in February that all bitcoins belonging to users and staff had been stolen in a hack. Another called Project Black Flag closed after its owner fled with the customers' bitcoins. Users of Sheep Marketplace, too, had their funds stolen, in an incident that has not been proven to be an inside job or otherwise. Atlantis Market, a competitor to Silk Road, shut for "security reasons". People say the owners fled with the deposits. In the light of these shake-ups, many are now gravitating towards a new order - fresh marketplaces that they feel are more predictable: websites such as Andromeda, Agora, Outlaw and Hydra.

"The only law here is our law," says (also a pseudonym), owner of Andromeda. He speaks to me using US National Security Agency-proof Bitmessage. Surfing along the site's supposedly safe corridors gives you a strange out-of-government-reach sensation. The products have photos, descriptions and vendor names. "The only restriction is on the sale of child pornography, all else is allowed." The sellers are located all over the world, a large portion of them in the US, Canada and Europe.

But even has its limits. There are no plutonium-grade weapons up for sale. Contrary to the belief that the Deep Web markets have no restrictions and are dark, these forums seem capable of taking moral decisions. HeadOfHydra, the chief of marketplace Hydra, says, "Everything except child porn and assassinations or any other service that constitutes doing harm to another is allowed on the site." This effectively means a vendor cannot sell just anything.

Despite restrictions, sellers seem a happy lot. Atheist666 is registered as a vendor on Andromeda. He says, "If you think of it as a public safety issue, the benefits are clear: no turf battles, bloodshed, meeting people in dark alleys et cetera." Atheist666 seems a seller of some repute. Andromeda has a reputation-based trading system similar to Amazon's. Atheist666 is especially trusted. Andromeda and Hydra attentively address user concerns. HeadOfHydra talks of dispute resolution, "If you do not receive the package, you can contact the support team. We will resend/refund based on your vendor's policy and your stats, like total sum spent on the market and refund rate."

What makes all this possible is anonymity technology called Tor. Moritz Bartl, founder,Torservers.net, wrote in from a Tor developer meeting in Paris: "Tor is free software developed with the help of researchers from universities. By redirecting your traffic through a network of computers that share their Internet connection with all Tor users, it hides who you are communicating with, and when. Since you are not connecting directly with the destination, it is also useful to circumvent local network restrictions and reach destinations that would otherwise be blocked. It also offers ways to transform outgoing data into something that looks innocent to get around more sophisticated filtering."

According to Bartl, Tor consists of two parts. One is the software (Tor browser) that you can download for free. The other is the Tor network (part of the Deep Web) that can be accessed only through the Tor browser. All sites on the network have the .onion suffix. Since normal search engines cannot operate in this space, Grams, a special engine, lets you find sites selling drugs, guns, stolen credit card numbers, counterfeit cash and fake IDs - sites that previously could only be found by users who knew the exact address.

Bartl goes on to explain his outfit's role. "Torservers.net is a network of non-profit organisations formed by experts who run Tor relays. This means that people who want to help make the Tor network faster and better, but don't have the skills or interest in doing it, can donate, and their donations will be turned into Tor bandwidth available for all users." Torservers.net, he adds, operates a large number of Tor bridges - entry points into the Tor network that are hard to enumerate and are only handed out in small numbers. For all that his organisation does, Bartl knows every action is closely monitored. "The slides on Tor provided by fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden mention an analysis of Torservers.net."

Bartl is not alone in this. Giant targets have been painted on many backs. After the arrest of Silk Road's alleged chief, Ulbricht, known on the site as Dread Pirate Roberts, or DPR, last December saw two alleged site moderators being taken into custody. The successor to DPR, known as DPR 2.0, ran Silk Road 2.0 but imagined FBI coming for him. Paranoid, he reportedly smashed his computer and went on the run. He resurfaced but resigned after a short while. Defcon has been heading Silk Road 2.0 since then. In February, under him, the site saw all of its bitcoins stolen in a hack. "I am sweating as I write this," Defcon wrote on the site's forum. "I must utter words all too familiar to this scarred community: we have been hacked."

Many site owners would have given up at this point, and attempted to join another site, or start a new one. Why bother to pay back millions of dollars when you could just disappear? But Silk Road 2.0 appears to rebuild and repay users' bitcoins. This is a significant development for the Deep Web since till now it had been viewed as a place for those without morals. Defcon wrote on May 27 that 82.09 per cent of all victims of the hack had been fully repaid. "Very nice surprise when I logged in!" a user called uglypapersbox wrote on the site's forum. "Despite having to wait one week short of two months, I got paid back in full. Bitcoins are in my account."

Source : 

http://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/the-deep-web-the-strange-and-terrible-cyber-world-where-no-authority-can-dictate-terms-114080801121_1.html 

Categorized in Deep Web
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