A Strategic Approach to the Tor Network
Why should firms go dark?
François Courset, Margot Favennec, Candice Hamou
The dark web should be considered by companies for various reasons. It offers a large panel of useful tools that can be crucial for negotiation or security. Moreover, even if it can appear as a niche network, opening an onion version of the companies’ websites might help them to boost their image. It can also bring new users to the website, users that usually cannot reach it because of censorship issues. Finally, we have seen new emerging trends related to the dark web. The Tor network might be seen in the future as a guarantee of security online but it can also deeply change the way data are used. Taking into consideration the dark web, not only as a place of illegal activities, but also as a new channel with its own opportunities and constraints is thus essential for all decision-makers.
Introduction: For the Web is dark, and full of terrors?
The Dark Web has been fascinating and fueling the imagination of many Internet users for a few years now. The collective art group Mediengruppe Bitnik even created a Random Darknet Shoper, a bot which bought a random object from the darknet market place Agora and then sent it to the two artists in charge of the project. This artistic project, aiming at debunking consumerism, showed yet that drugs are not the only things you can find on the Dark Net. You can also find everything you buy in the “clean world”, and buy these with a refund service - the two artists received a refund for a bag that was no longer available.
The Dark Web, instead of being the place gathering the worst side of humanity (drugs, pedophilian contents…) could also thus be a place where a real economy grows and prospers.
That’s why the following question deserves to be asked: can the Dark Web be profitable for firms then? Could a reliable “dark” business model exists and could the dark web be used as a almost regular tool to increase a firm’s profit?
First things first, the Dark Web is often misperceived among the global population since the media hype mainly focuses on scandals such as Silk Road’s. This tends to depict it as a place where you can find barely anything illegal, from drugs to hitmen. Yet the Dark Web is not only about illegal traffic. It is much more than that. What’s more, a distinction has to be made, a distinction that is far to often forgotten or neglected. As shown by the two pictures you will find in the report (page 3), there are different levels beneath the “Surface Web” we all know. First comes the “Deep Web”, where you can find many reports, storage datas, and again underneath this Deep Web comes the “Dark Web”, where all communications are encrypted. Now let’s clarify what each term means:
Deep Web: information not accessible with a regular search engine. It is a Web concept regarding search engine (Bergman, 2001).
DarkNet = Dark Web = Tor = information not accessible with a regular search engine or a browser.
The Deep Web has a far larger content that the Surface Web: 1GO of indexed page versus 550GO of deep web page and 19TB of indexed content versus 7500 TB of deep web content, to quote only but a few numbers from a recent study. To be really thorough, Dark Nets are all the overlay networks on the Deepweb, and Dark Web is the content of some Darknets. Thus one DarkWeb may be considered as a small portion of Deep Web. Deep Web and DarkWeb are very often confond, yet they are not the same!
We chose to focus on Tor since this is what most people use to get into Darknets and to browse the Web anonimously. Tor enables you to protect your privacy while looking at any webcontent, and from our point of view, this is one crucial asset for a business model based on the use of Darknets. In the wake of the growing yearn for privacy and of protest against wild data collection, Tor is definitely something firms should get interested in.
The following report assess the strategic value of Tor for businesses. Read the full report here: A Strategic Approach to the Tor Network
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