We’ve dropped a few hints here and there about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things lying in wait for amateurs who dare to dip their toes into the so-called “Deep Web” — things like SAD SATAN, a creepy video game that might download malware into your computer before literally boring you to death.
More experienced explorers of this vast, nearly bottomless underground — which can only be accessed via the encrypted TOR Network, using dedicated applications, and then only if you know exactly what sites you’re looking for — claim the Deep Web is home to worldwide criminal networks, where anyone, for the right price, can purchase nearly anything their blackest heart desires — drugs, sex slaves, snuff videos, assassins-for-hire, you name it.
Others claim these vast networks also contain information which could reveal shadow conspiracies so far-reaching that, in the wrong (or right) hands, could potentially overthrow world governments… thankfully, those claims so far have turned out to be total horseshit, usually perpetuated by people with savvy technical skills but rather lame imaginations.
Still, the majority of these sites remain virtually invisible to most users, and even cyber-security experts claim there is no practical means of tracing Deep Web sites — especially when their creators don’t want their information found.
But that may no longer be the case, according to at least one source.
According to a recent revelation from Vice.com’s Motherboard, one researcher claims to have published a universal “Onion Index,” listing every possible Dark Web URL character combination — whether they actually lead the user to a functioning website or not. But before you start thinking of that site as the Yellow Pages of the Dark Web, you might want to consider how many potential URLs are actually out there.
Spoiler alert: It’s a buttload.
The site’s creator, Matt Traudt, told Motherboard the total character combinations come to 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 — or one septillion, two hundred eight sextillion, nine hundred twenty-five quintillion, eight hundred nineteen quadrillion, six hundred fourteen trillion, six hundred twenty-nine billion, one hundred seventy-four million, seven hundred six thousand, one hundred seventy-six URLs in all.
Also, Traudt’s goal was really more of a thought experiment than a useful resource… a fact he openly admits. It didn’t even take him more than a single afternoon to write the script which produced the URL list.
“Compiling a list of onion services is pointless,” he explains, “because most are online 12 hours of the day for a week and then disappear.”
But the experiment does reveal one valuable bit of information: even on the Dark Web, no information can be completely hidden from prying eyes… you just have to know where to look.