In 2012, DARPA — the mad scientist wing of the pentagon — revealed a new and highly classified research and development project called PLAN X.
An effort to bolster the US military’s recently established Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) so that it may “dominate the cyber battlespace,” the plan will dramatically accelerate the development and acquisition of new weapons, with a focus on lowering the engagement threshold so that personnel without detailed technical expertise can be seamlessly deployed into the hyperlink conflict matrix.
PLAN X is a deliberate attempt to render cyber warfare more accessible, user-friendly and intuitive, to the point where it includes an effort to transform the digital world into a 3D landscape that can be navigated with Oculus Rift, allowing soldiers to experience cyberspace much like they would the arid terrain of Iraq or Afghanistan.
Of the plan’s many curious dimensions is an attempt by DARPA technologists to create a real-time map of the entirety of cyberspace — which includes billions of computers, handheld devices and other intermeshed nodes of interest.
This move by DARPA, which in 1969 created the networks that would eventually evolve into the web we so casually surf today, confirms what many have suspected all along: that the Internet has always been and continues to be primarily a theater for warfare.
Please govern yourselves accordingly.
If while reading a news item,
you’ve ever been brave enough to venture below the fold into the vast uncharted darkness of an online comment section, you may have noticed how vile, offensive and discouraging the experience can be.
This generalized toxicity is due to a number of factors, most of which are rooted in the unchecked freedom of expression afforded by anonymity. When certain netizens are permitted to interact with others without having to reveal their identity or be responsible for their words, they often take advantage of the situation and say things they wouldn’t otherwise say.
Netizen: I support Politician A’s policies :) they see kewl. lol.
Netizen: Politician A is a super-Hitler and you are feminazi communist pig-f****r for support his progressive jihadist agenda. AINEC.
In such cases, Netizen 2 is often labelled a “troll.” Meaning, an Internet use who posts deliberately provocative messages online with the intention of ausing mental distress and/or widespread calamity.
But sometimes a troll isn’t just a troll, but an agent of DEZA.
Shorthand for disinformation, DEZA refers to a particularly unpleasant brand of astroturfing that is aimed at legitimizing or delegitimizing targeted political or corporate entities. A recent example of this practice was the ubiquitous presence of Kremlin-funded Pro-Putin commenters on Crimea-related news items.
Facebook has 1.32 billion users, 864 million of which visit the site everyday for an average of 21 minutes. The lion’s share of the world’s connected (not currently located behind the Great Firewall of China) fit into a similar browsing pattern, spending their free time browsing the corporate surface web — which in addition to Facebook includes sites like YouTube, Yahoo, Google and Amazon.
The handful of sites at the top of the Alexa rankings command the majority of our attention spans. Then there’s everything else that is easily found through a tertiary search protocol: blogs, Reddit, news outlets, Pinterest, Craigslist, et cetera.
Beyond this lies the deep web, also known as the invisible or hidden web. You cannot Google your way through it and it is estimated to be some 500x larger than what we’re able to see on the surface. To understand just how big the deep web really is, consider the following: in 2008, Google had indexed approximately 1 trillion unique URLs. The number has grown substantially since then, and the deep web is 500 times bigger than whatever that number is now.
Typically associated with a laundry list of very bad things, the deep web is actually a generic term that simply describes areas of the Internet that are not accessible by standard search engines, which includes things like academic databases and organizational intranets.
Take another step into the deep end and you’ll find The Onion Router (TOR) — a network of virtual tunnels that allows its users to “protect their privacy and defend themselves against network surveillance and traffic analysis.”
Now this is where things start to get interesting and weird. It’s also where you’ll begin to peel back the layers to find those shadowy corners of the Internet that the news warned you about.
Plus many, many, many more. Some too unspeakable to mention in print. But Tor isn’t just a den of vice, though it is more often than not characterized that way. In addition to providing a marketplace for illicit objects and services, Tor is an invaluable tool used by whistleblowers, activists and journalists in countries where anonymity is a life or death issue. Which these days, is most countries.
But still the web goes deeper. If you keeping digging under Tor, and even past all the PANs, LANs and WANs (personal, local and wide area networks) and you have enough patience, dedication and know-how, you’ll eventually reach what is known as the fabled “Mariana’s Web.”
This is the black hole of the Internet. Google it and you’ll be told it’s a hoax and that it doesn’t exist, which in many ways is completely accurate characterization. Mariana’s Web is not so much a place you can find, but a place that you can’t find once other things are found.