Let’s Talk About The Deep Web vs Dark Web

Today’s article is going to be quite different than a normal article, as I discuss the differences between the Deep Web vs Dark Web. The reason I wrote this article is because I was having an online conversation with someone and they didn’t know the difference. In fact, they weren’t familiar with either of the terms but used them both for the same thing.

So, sit back and relax. This article might be informative if you’re not already aware of these words and what they mean. If you’re already familiar with these words, you can skip this article – or scroll to the comment section to add your thoughts on the matter.

There’s a subset of people who would think these names are interchangeable. They share some similarities but they’re decidedly different. I’ll do my best to explain the difference between the deep web and the dark web. It sounds like a good article to write.

The Public Web:

Before we can talk about either of those two things, we should probably talk about the public web. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but the public web is the sites you visit while you’re online. These are sites that are open to anyone. They’re sites you can find with your normal search engine.

For example, this site is a part of the public web. You can search for it and find results. It’s possible to visit the site directly. You can interact with the site, browsing around as you see fit.

Everyone’s familiar with the public web. This is all the major sites, the sites that get the vast majority of traffic. They’re the places we hang out, meet with friends and family, and exchange information. They’re just your typical websites.

All of these things have one thing in common. You connect to your ISP to access them – but they use vastly different technology underneath. The public web uses just plain web servers, a markup language, and is delivered via HTTP or HTTPS. You know, the sites you regularly visit.

The Deep Web:

The Deep Web is something we all encounter. Simply put, the Deep Web is stuff that doesn’t get indexed by public search engines. This is also true of the Dark Web, but we’ll discuss that in a minute.

For example, your banking is technically in the Deep Web. I mean, ideally, it is. It’s a site with data that’s not indexed by search engines. This is true for IRC (Internet Relay Chat), SMTP/POP3 (email), IMAP, (more email), and even the old gopher network that still exists.

This Deep Web also includes stuff behind a paywall. This could be a private stock exchange portal or it could be the archives at your favorite newspaper. This also includes things like private forums. If a public forum has a private section then that section would technically fall under the title of Deep Web.

There’s nothing wrong with the Deep Web. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these categories. They are what they are. I have a private forum and no you can’t join it. It’s for friends and family. As such, it’s a part of the Deep Web.

The Dark Web:

Now, the Dark Web is a whole different animal. The Dark Web requires different protocols and special software to access it. It will also include encryption and will (generally speaking) be poorly indexed (if at all) by public search engines.

The Dark Web includes various P2P connections. A few examples would be Tor, I2P, or even Freenet. While this data does transmit over the internet, it uses various protocols that are unlike those used for the public web. Encryption is enforced and a stated goal for many of these services is anonymity.

It is NOT illegal (at least not in my country) to access the Dark Web. In and of itself, accessing the Dark Web violates zero laws. Just like you can access IMAP for your email, you can access the Dark Web.

HOWEVER…

The Dark Web is where you’ll find a concentration of illegal activities, from drug sales to firearm sales to worse. Performing those illegal activities is still very much illegal. The level of security you’d have to maintain at all times is so burdensome that people are caught every day for performing illegal activities on the Dark Web.

Yes, you can find illegal activities on the public web. You’ll find a concentration of them on the Dark Web.

So, Deep Web vs Dark Web:

So, accessing the Deep Web is perfectly normal. That behavior doesn’t stand out at all. Just accessing your bank means you’re accessing the deep web – and that’s a good thing. You don’t want that banking information to be available with a simple Google search.

Accessing the Dark Web isn’t illegal, but that’s where a lot of illegal activities take place. You’re unlikely (I’m sure some jurisdictions make this illegal) to attract any attention unless you’re dumb enough to try using it for illegal activities. Before you think you’re smart and will keep your “OPSEC” squared away, every other person thought the same thing before the law was knocking on their door.

So, when it comes to Deep Web vs Dark Web, you might as well know the difference in terms and what those terms mean. 

Closure:

Yes, this could have been so much more technical. The idea for the article stemmed from a conversation and I don’t want to be all that technical. This is meant to be a light discussion about the Deep Web vs Dark Web. Nothing more. Nothing less…

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Add User To The ‘sudoers’ Group

Today we’ll have a pretty straightforward article that’s meant for those who want to add a user to the ‘sudoers’ group. I have tested this in Ubuntu, specifically in Lubuntu, and it works. It shouldn’t be a complicated article, one easy enough for anyone to follow.

I am not 100% certain if this will work in other distros, so comment and let me know if it works with others. It should work in Debian, the official Ubuntu flavors, Mint, POP!_OS, ElementaryOS, and more. That much I’m pretty confident of, but I’ve done limited testing.

This article is going to assume you’re using ‘nano’ as your default text editor. That’s important for this, otherwise, you’ll need to change the directions to match your text editor of choice.

Let’s Install Nano (With Some Bonus Information)

We’ll be using a tool known as ‘visudo’. The man page defines it as:

visudo — edit the sudoers file

It’s important to use visudo to edit the sudoers file because it checks for errors and will prevent you from making syntax errors. It can’t correct bad information, but it can prevent you from making some basic mistakes.

What is the ‘sudoers’ file? 

Well, simply put, that’s the file that decides who has the rights to access sudo, and what rights they have to do so. A sudo user has administrative privileges, that is the ability to edit files that can’t be edited by a regular user. The sudo users can do things like change system files, change system settings, and add or remove software. They’re administrators (though you technically can give them limited rights, which is a topic for another article) so to speak.

So, What Is ‘sudo’ Anyhow?

You should make good choices when deciding which accounts have sudo access. They, at least by default, have the keys to the kingdom. A user with sudo access has complete control over the system. This isn’t always a good thing.

Many distros, including Ubuntu, use sudo instead of a root account. Root also has the keys to the kingdom. It’s a good way to view sudo as temporarily elevating the user’s rights to that of the root user. It should be obvious why this is beneficial.

Most of us don’t want our account to have root access all the time because it stops us from editing files we might not want to access – and the software we use also only has our regular user’s limited access to the system. Some folks are into running as root, and some distros have root enabled by default. The great thing about Linux is the choices available, including choices about security.

How To: Enable The Root Account in Ubuntu
How To: Graphically Login as Root in Ubuntu

(It’s generally suggested you not follow the directions given at those two URLs, but I’m a big fan of choice and of sharing information. So, you can do what you want. I do ask that you be careful and be a good netizen.)

That’s what we’ll be doing today. We’ll be learning how to add a user to the ‘sudoers’ group (file I suppose). Those user accounts will then have sudo access, the keys to the kingdom. There are a ton of valid reasons for doing this, and some not-so-good reasons. It’s your device. You do you!

Add A User To The ‘sudoers’ Group:

Yes, this article requires a terminal. I don’t know of a GUI way to accomplish this task. I’m sure there is one, but I don’t know. If you know of one, feel free to add a comment. Otherwise, press CTRL + ALT + T and your terminal should pop open.

With your terminal now open, you can easily just run the following command:

Of course, that’s the easy way…

If you want, you can manually edit the sudoers file. You’ll want to know how to do this if you only want to give the user elevated permissions to certain directories or files. So, I’ll include that. We can use this article as a reference article for a future article.

To manually edit the sudoers file,  you just run the following command:

You’ll then add the following line at the bottom of the file:

Replace the obvious with the obvious, as always. Be extra careful to avoid typographical errors. Then, you’ll save the file. As we’re using nano, the process to save the file is pressing CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER – and that should save the file. Congrats, you now know how to add a user to the ‘sudoers’ file.

Closure:

Well, it’s another article. As I mentioned, there are legitimate reasons to add a user to the sudoers file. There are also legitimate reasons for not doing so. It depends on you and your circumstances – and your computing goals are your own. This is Linux. We can do what we want!

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How To: Update A Single Package In Ubuntu

Today’s article should be short because it’s late in the evening and I have decided to write about how to update a single package in Ubuntu. It’s an easy topic to write about, as there are really just a couple of choices. It shouldn’t be complicated and, for the most part.

First, let me state this…

I firmly believe that you should keep everything updated and updated the minute the update is available.

HOWEVER…

That assumes a perfect world. We do not live in a perfect world. We live in the real world. Because of this, people delay updates for various reasons. The biggest delay I can think of at this hour of the night is the delays added in the business world.

Rather than push an update to production, they’ll run it through testing first. It can take quite a while before an update makes it into production.

The reality is that many of our updates are security updates. As a byproduct of their update policy, at any given time they’re running insecure software. I understand why they’d do this. They don’t want things to break. They certainly don’t want public-facing things to break.

Again, I can understand why regular people follow a similar process. They’ll wait and watch to see if the updates cause problems for other people. But, that’s like waiting for the first person to jump in the river to see if the water is cold.

In all my years of using Linux, I’ve had updates bork the system fewer times than I have fingers on one hand. I’ve had updates bork the system so completely that it hoses everything exactly zero times. As in, not once was I screwed over by an update that really did any damage.

But…

Again, I can understand those who would rather be cautious.

This article is for you. It’s for you people who want to update a single package in Ubuntu. It’s for those people who do what they must in order to maintain a stable system.

This isn’t just applicable to Ubuntu. I tend to use Lubuntu and, as such, am a fan. So, I used Ubuntu in the headline. This applies equally to Debian, Mint, and other Ubuntu derivatives. It should even work in derivatives of derivatives. It’s pretty basic stuff.

Update A Single Package In Ubuntu:

So, you might be able to do this with a GUI. I don’t actually know and I didn’t test to see if there was a way to do so graphically. Check your software manager while the rest of us open a terminal. You can (more often than not) open your default terminal by pressing CTRL + ALT + T.

With your terminal now open, you need an application to update. If you’re a good netizen, you hopefully don’t have many upgrades available. You can check and see by running this command:

You can then get a list of applications that can be updated, assuming there’s an application that can be updated, with the following command:

The next step is to use one of the following two commands to update a single package in Ubuntu (neither of which are all that difficult):

Yes, that looks like it’s going to install a new application, but you substitute the <package_name> with the package name that you want to update in Ubuntu. The ‘install’ will happily upgrade to the next passage.

The next one is bit more jargony. Jargon-y? Maybe? It’s more complicated looking (but easy enough to memorize). So, if you want to update a single package in Ubuntu, this too should also do the trick:

Once again, you replace the obvious with the obvious. Just doing so would help you sort out how to update a single package in Ubuntu. Either of these commands should work, so you do have a choice.

Closure:

As I said, it’s not going to be all that difficult to update a single package in Ubuntu. You have a choice in commands. While I think it’s best to avoid all update delays, I do understand why you might want to be more cautious.

I go full blast at updates, but I’ve lately been a bit slow about major upgrades. In my case it’s a bandwidth issue. I had one box running like Linux Mint 20 or something like that…

Wait, it still says 21 is the version – but I’m quite literally nearing the end of the upgrade process. That may have already changed. I was so far behind that I needed more than 4 GB worth of downloads. When I’m done we’ll have an OS that’s missing almost all the stuff I installed on top of it! 

It can sure be a pain in the butt. Alas, as least I’m not trying to update a single package in Ubuntu!

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Some Opinions (News?) About Purism.

Today’s article isn’t like a regular article, it’s just some news about Purism. There’s not going to be much written about this company by me, as I’m not wanting to get sued by angry people. I’m mostly going to give you some information and then share a video. With that information, you’ll be free to make your own choices.

Let’s start with the basics…

I have been paying a little bit of attention to Purism for quite some time. I have considered giving them money, but there were already enough complaints that I never felt comfortable doing that.

Purism SPC, the company, is located in San Francisco, California. They have been around since 2014 and they sell products that are based on ‘opensource’, hardware such as laptops and phones.

Their site can be found at https://puri.sm/

Purism claim to be interested in protecting your privacy and liberties, by using open-source software. There are lots of thoughts about this.

I have seen a few people mention this company lately, as though they were interested in their products. I feel an obligation to inform, thus this news article about Purism.

I will not be offering my opinions on the matter. As much as free speech exists in my country, I don’t really feel like spending money on legal fees and I don’t want to deal with a cease-and-desist notice that tells me to take the site down.

What I am going to do is share a video with you.

Warning, this video uses adult language – but provides sources for their claims. I would suggest watching this video if you’re interested in Purism products.

Now, you take that information and do with it what you will. You can view a bunch of old/current complaints at the Purism Subreddit. There are also a number of topics over on HackerNews but I don’t have links to those. I’m not trying to do an expose, I’m trying to help people make wise choices. This means doing your research – and real research.

Closure:

My opinions are my own, though I’m sure it’s okay to say that I do not now own any Purism products and I do not intend to buy any in the near future. This is simply one of many videos, articles, and comment chains that finally made me realize that I should probably share this with others – as we don’t all dive deep into things prior to making a purchase decision.

What you do with this information is up to you.

I will further suggest that any comments on this matter should be left here. It’s well known that I share my articles elsewhere but I don’t know if Purism is lawsuit happy and I don’t think I’d like to put other sites at risk. I’m sure it’s fine, but we’ll see…

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How To: Boot An SSH User

Today’s article will be pretty simple, though it will have a limited scope, as we discuss how to boot an SSH user. The vast majority of my regular readers are ‘simple’ desktop users. This article shouldn’t apply to them; if it does, something may have gone terribly wrong.

I need to point out that if you’re doing this for security reasons, you’ve done something wrong – or you’re getting ready to fire someone and want to ensure any logged-in accounts have been disconnected.

What is this article about?

Well, let’s say you have a server and people are logged in via SSH. Let’s also say you want to disconnect one of them. That is, you want to boot an SSH user. If you want to boot an SSH user, it’s remarkably similar to sending that SSH user a message. You might want to read that article:

Send A Message To Another Logged In User

We’ll be using similar tools, though we’ll also be using tools from this article:

How To: Kill Processes By Their PID (Process ID)

I strongly suggest that you read both of the two links. That will save you some time and I’m going to gloss over some details because one of the great things about previous articles is that it means I don’t have to duplicate work. The onus is yours to read those articles so that you’re familiar with the subject.

In case you haven’t put two and two together, we’re going to boot an SSH user by killing their process ID (PID). It’s a lovely way to do so, perfectly graceful ideally, and will accomplish the goal of booting said SSH user.

This might be something you do when you take a privileged user down to HR to fire them. When they head to HR (and are then led out of the building by security), you can kill any processes they have ownership of, including any SSH sessions they have open. In this case, we’re just going to learn how to boot an SSH user.

So, put on your steel-toed boots ’cause we’re going to boot an SSH user!

(I do… I crack me up!)

Boot An SSH User:

You’re going to need an open terminal and you’re going to need to be connected to the same SSH server(s) as the user. As this is a bit of an advanced article, I’m going to assume you know what those things mean. If you don’t know what those things mean, you probably shouldn’t be operating a server, and definitely shouldn’t be operating a server that has multiple people connected to it.

If you remember (or clicked to read) the previous article, we are going to start with the ‘who’ command. You can simply try this command:

That has all the information you need and you’re looking for the PID as that’s what we’re going to be using to boot the SSH user. We’ll be killing their PID and logging them out immediately. You only need the first field to identify them by username and the sixth field to know the PID. So, you can just use this command:

This will give you an output similar to this:

Using the first field to identify the user, you can see their PID. You can kill their process with the following command:

Or, for example:

If that doesn’t work, and sometimes a process can’t be killed, you can bring out the hammer and tell the kernel to drop the process. You should try the first way as it’s more graceful and using a hammer may result in a zombie process. But, if you want to bring out the hammer, you would use this command:

If the user is logged in more than once, you can boot the SSH user by adding the rest of their PIDs. You just simply add them to either of the two commands. For example:

And that’s how you boot multiple SSH users in one command.

Again, if you’re relying on this for security you’re doing it wrong. This should just be a part of the security process, such as when you’re letting someone go while they were still at their desk. You bring them to HR while security cleans their desk and IT make sure they’re logged out of any and every system. You then escort them out of the building.

Of course, there are probably other reasons why you might want to boot an SSH user. It’s your system, you can decide what to do. You shouldn’t be using this to boot an adversarial SSH connection because if it has reached that point you’re doing security very, very wrong.

Closure:

So, why not? We might as well have an article about how you boot an SSH user. It does not apply to much of my readership, but it’s certainly something worth knowing. It was also tied into a couple of earlier articles, including one from yesterday, so I figured I’d cover this subject while it was still fresh in my memory.

That memory ain’t what it once was! Welcome to old age!

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