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Below The Surface

You thought you knew the Internet. But sites such as Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram are just the surface. There’s a whole other world out there: the Deep Web.

It’s a place where online information is password protected, trapped behind paywalls, or requires special software to access—and it’s massive. By some estimates, it is 500 times larger than the surface Web that most people search every day. Yet it’s almost completely out of sight. According to a study published in Nature, Google indexes no more than 16 percent of the surface Web and misses all of the Deep Web. Any given search turns up just 0.03 percent of the information that exists online (one in 3,000 pages). It’s like fishing in the top two feet of the ocean—you miss the virtual Mariana Trench below.

Much of the Deep Web’s unindexed material lies in mundane data­bases such as LexisNexis or the rolls of the U.S. Patent Office. But like a Russian matryoshka doll, the Deep Web contains a further hidden world, a smaller but significant community where malicious actors unite in common purpose for ill. Welcome to the Dark Web, sometimes called the Darknet, a vast digital underground where hackers, gangsters, terrorists, and pedophiles come to ply their trade. What follows is but a cursory sampling of the goods and services available from within the darkest recesses of the Internet.

Things You Can Buy

1. Drugs

Individual or dealer-level quantities of illicit and prescription drugs of every type are available in the digital underground. The Silk Road, the now-shuttered drug superstore, did $200 million of business in 28 months.

2. Counterfeit Currency

Fake money varies widely in quality and cost, but euros, pounds, and yen are all available. Six hundred dollars gets you $2,500 in counterfeit U.S. notes, promised to pass the typical pen and ultraviolet-light tests.

3. Forged Papers

Passports, driver’s licenses, citizenship papers, fake IDs, college diplomas, immigration documents, and even diplomatic ID cards are available on illicit marketplaces such as Onion Identity Services. A U.S. driver’s license costs approximately $200, while passports from the U.S. or U.K. sell for a few thousand bucks.

4. Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives

Weapons such as handguns and C4 explosives are procurable on the Dark Web. Vendors ship their products in specially shielded packages to avoid x-rays or send weapons components hidden in toys, musical instruments, or electronics.

5. Hitmen

6. Human Organs

In the darker corners of the Dark Web, a vibrant and gruesome black market for live organs thrives. Kidneys may fetch $200,000, hearts $120,000, livers $150,000, and a pair of eyeballs $1,500.

Things That Make Internet Crime Work

1. Cryptocurrency

Digital cash, such as bitcoin and darkcoin, and the payment system Liberty Reserve provide a convenient system for users to spend money online while keeping their real-world identities hidden.

2. Bulletproof Web-hosting Services

Some Web hosts in places such as Russia or Ukraine welcome all content, make no attempts to learn their customers’ true identities, accept anonymous payments in bitcoin, and routinely ignore subpoena requests from law enforcement.

Bitcoins

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin help keep the deep web in business.

3. Cloud Computing

By hosting their criminal malware with reputable firms, hackers are much less likely to see their traffic blocked by security systems. A recent study suggested that 16 percent of the world’s malware and cyberattack distribution channels originated in the Amazon Cloud.

4. Crimeware

Less skilled criminals can buy all the tools they need to identify system vulnerabilities, commit identity theft, compromise servers, and steal data. It was a hacker with just such a tool kit who invaded Target’s point-of-sale system in 2013.

5. Hackers For Hire

Organized cybercrime syndicates outsource hackers-for-hire. China’s Hidden Lynx group boasts up to 100 professional cyberthieves, some of whom are known to have penetrated systems at Google, Adobe, and Lockheed Martin.

6. Multilingual Crime Call Centers

Employees will play any duplicitous role you would like, such as providing job and educational references, initiating wire transfers, and unblocking hacked accounts. Calls cost around $10.

How to Access the Dark Web’s Wares

Anonymizing Browser

Secret Search Engines

Future Crimes

Criminal Wikis

Carefully organized wikis list hidden sites by category, such as Hacks, Markets, Viruses, and Drugs. Descriptions of each link help curious newcomers find their desired illicit items.

Hidden Chatrooms

Just as in the real world, online criminals looking to obtain the most felonious material must be vouched for before they can transact. A network of invitation-only chatrooms and forums, hidden behind unlisted alphanumeric Web addresses, provides access to the most criminal of circles.

This article was adapted from Marc Goodman’s book Future Crimes, which was published in February. It originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Popular Science, under the title “The Dark Web Revealed.” All text © 2024 Marc Goodman, published by arrangement with Doubleday, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Is The Apple Card Worth It? Here’s What You Need To Know

Apple Card

Apple Card has been available for several years at this point, and it’s proven to be a very popular credit card. Despite its popularity, however, there are a few things to keep in mind before signing up for Apple Card. Here’s what you need to know.

Apple Card quick facts

Apply and manage directly in the Wallet app on your iPhone

Get a free Apple-designed titanium card

No late fees

No over-limit fees

No foreign transaction fees

Created by Apple with a financial back-end powered by Goldman Sachs

All payments due on the last day of the month

Find out if you’re approved with only a soft credit check

Apple Card Savings Account

Apple Card perks

The Apple Card offers a set of rewards and perks that make it enticing for a few different reasons. The headlining feature is the ability to earn “Unlimited Day Cash back” on every purchase. The amount of that cash back, however, varies by where and how you make that purchase.

3% Daily Cash back on every purchase from Apple Stores, Apple’s website, and all digital purchases from the App Store, iTunes, and Apple services like Apple Music and Apple TV+

2% Daily Cash back on all purchases made using Apple Pay online and in-store

1% Daily Cash back on all other purchases

You can also get 3% Daily Cash back when you buy with Apple Pay at a selection of specific stores and retailers:

Ace Hardware

Exxon

Nike

T-Mobile

Uber Eats

Duane Reade

Mobil

Panera Bread

Uber

Walgreens

Apple Card Monthly Installments

Another of the nice perks of Apple Card is the “Monthly Installments” feature that allows you to finance any purchase of Apple products over time with zero-percent interest.

If you’re an Apple Card user, you’ll see an “Apple Card Monthly Installments” financing option. You can finance pretty much any Apple product using this option, including all of Apple’s primary product categories:

iPhone: Finance across 24 months

Mac: Finance across 12 months

iPad: Finance across 12 months

Apple Watch: Finance across 24 months

AirPods: Finance across 6 months

Apple TV 4K: Finance across 6 months

If you trade in an iPhone towards the purchase of a new iPhone, the value of that trade-in will be instantly deducted from the purchase price of the new iPhone, lowering your monthly installment.

You also earn 3% Daily Cash on all Apple Card Monthly Installment purchases. For instance, if you buy an iPhone 14 for $799, you get the full 3% Daily Cash, or roughly $24, deposited right away, even though you haven’t actually paid for the device yet.

There is no approval process required for Apple Card Monthly Installments. Instead, the balance of your installments counts towards your overall Apple Card credit limit. For instance, if you have a credit limit of $5,000 and you finance an iPhone 14 from Apple, the cost of that iPhone 14 is subtracted from your overall credit limit.

What is Daily Cash?

“Daily Cash” is what Apple calls the cash back that you earn with Apple Card purchases. You earn the Daily Cash right after the purchase posts to your Apple Card balance. This is different than many other cash back cards, which don’t give the cash back until the end of each statement cycle.

By default, Daily Cash is deposited directly to your “Apple Cash” balance. Apple Cash is a separate card in the Wallet app that is effectively Apple’s competitor to other payment services like Venmo and Cash app.

Money in your Apple Cash account can be used for Apple Pay purchases, sent to friends and family via Messages, or transferred to your linked bank account. You can also use your Apple Cash funds to pay down the balance of your Apple Card itself.

Another option available is to have Daily Cash rewards immediately applied to your Apple Card’s balance. This works if you don’t have an Apple Cash account.

Most recently, Apple launched Apple Card Savings Account. This is a new feature exclusive to Apple Card users. You can have your Daily Cash deposited to the savings account instantly, which offers 4.15% interest, and make deposits from a linked bank account.

Apple Card security and privacy

Apple Card also offers a handful of security and privacy features that can help protect your information and finances to prevent unauthorized transactions.

Advanced Fraud Protection: The Card Security Code automatically refreshes every day.

No card number or security code on the physical card itself

Ability to lock your Apple Card via the Wallet app

Real-time transaction notifications via the Wallet app

Is the Apple Card worth it?

Now that we’ve run through the benefits and features of Apple Card, we can talk about whether or not it’s worth it.

For a card with no annual fee, the Apple Card has some enticing perks and reward options – especially for people who find themselves spending a decent amount of money with Apple directly.

The Apple Card is worth it if the following things apply to you:

You aren’t concerned about the potential one-time hit to your credit score.

Apple Pay is widely accepted as a payment option from the stores and websites you shop.

You buy products from Apple, the App Store, and Apple Services.

You value the ability to manage everything via the Wallet app on your iPhone.

There’s also a web interface for Apple Card, but the Wallet app is the best way to manage Apple Card.

That’s not to say the Apple Card is a must-have credit card, though. There are similarly competitive cash back options from the likes of Chase, Citi, and Discover. You can also check out options from American Express, many of which offer more enticing rewards as long as you know how to best redeem the Membership Rewards points.

I got the chance to talk with Emmanuel Crouvisier, developer of the popular CardPointers app, about the Apple Card. CardPointers is an excellent app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac to help you maximize credit card rewards.

With the Apple Card the most you can get is 3% back on your purchase, whereas with the cards I’ve mentioned, you can get 5x back in points on some categories like restaurants, gas stations, etc, and those points are worth even more as you can redeem them for things like business class seats to Europe. 

If someone spends $10,000 on their Apple Card in a year they’ll get back at most $300, whereas the same $10k spend on a good rewards card can earn them 50,000 points, and those points can be worth 4c or more with a good redemption, meaning the real value would be $2,000. Literally 7x more value out of using a good rewards card, and that’s what CardPointers helps users do — earn more from every purchase just by paying with the right card. 

9to5Mac readers can save 30% off the normal price of CardPointers and get a $100 Savings Card as a signup bonus.

As always, credit cards are only a wide financial tool if you pay them off every month. Once you start carrying a balance and paying interest, the credit card company is making money off you. The rewards you receive will never outweigh the interest charges.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

What Is A Web Browser? How Does It Work?

A web browser, aka Internet browser, is a software application that lets people access the World Wide Web. It is used to locate, fetch and display content on the internet, including web pages, images, videos, documents, and other files. 

In other words, you can also call it a rendering engine whose job is to download a web page and render it in a way that people understand. Web pages are built upon HTML, which needs to be rendered in the layout displayed in the user interface.

For instance, Chrome offers built-in tools like Password Manager, Password Checkup, Anti-phishing, and more.

Before we start with how a web browser works, let’s have a brief look at the components of a browser that play an important role in its functioning. Post which, we’ll see the step-by-step working of a web browser.

Any web browser has two elements- front-end and back-end. The front end is the interface we interact with, which looks fairly simple. However, it’s the complex back end that facilitates the core functioning of a browser. A browser has the following main components:

The Browser Engine provides a link between the user interface and the rendering engine. It manages and manipulates the rendering engine based on inputs from various user interfaces.

The Rendering Engine renders the requested web page on the browser screen. A web page is a document commonly written in HTML- rendering engine converts this document and data to an understandable format so that users can see the desired site, image, or video.

It deals with HTML and XML documents and other files to generate the layout displayed in the user interface. The rendering engine can also work with other types of data with the help of certain plugins and extensions. Below are the rendering engines used by major web browsers:

Blink – Google Chrome, Opera, Microsoft Edge (previously used EdgeHTML).

WebKit – Used in Safari.

Gecko – Mozilla Firefox.

Trident – Internet Explorer.

Presto – Legacy rendering engine for Opera.

The JavaScript Interpreter, as the name suggests, interprets and executes the JavaScript code embedded in a website. The results are then sent to the rendering engine for display.

UI Backend helps to draw basic widgets like a select box, an input box, a window, a check box, etc. It uses the underlying operating system user interface methods for the same.

It is a uniform layer that the browser uses to store all its data, including Cookies, Local Storage, Session Storage, IndexedDB, WebSQL, and FileSystem.

It involves a multi-step process including DNS resolution, HTTP exchange between browser and web server, rendering, and so on, as follows:

Credits: HackerNoon

You enter a URL in the web browser.

The browser finds the IP address for the domain using DNS.

The browser initiates a connection with the server.

Next, it sends an HTTP request to the webserver.

The server handles the request and sends out an HTTP response.

The browser renders and displays the HTML content, i.e., the web page.

Below are the commonly used jargons that you might’ve read above or come across while reading about the internet, web, or browsers.

URL – Universal Resource Locator is the address of a given unique resource on the Web.

HTML – HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, used for creating web pages and applications.

HTTP – HTTP is a protocol that allows the fetching of resources, like HTML documents. It is a client-server protocol, which means your web browser initiates requests.

IP Address – It identifies the location of a specific server that’s connected to the internet. Each website has its own unique IP address and can have multiple IP addresses when hosted at multiple locations. For example, a common IP address for Facebook is 157.240.241.35.

DNS – DNS or Domain Name System is the database that contains records of the domains. It helps discover websites using human-readable addresses.

Cookies – Cookies are the small pieces of data websites store on your device’s storage.

Google Chrome is currently the world’s most popular web browser with over 64% market share. It was first released in 2008. The browser uses Google’s Blink rendering engine. Here’s more about the evolution of Chrome over 12 years.

Microsoft Edge was first released in 2024 to replace Internet Explorer as the default browser on Windows 10. Later, it was made available for Android, iOS, and macOS.

It initially used the EdgeHTML rendering engine. However, in 2023, Microsoft rolled out the new Chromium-based Edge using the same rendering engine as Chrome, i.e., Blink. It still has a meager worldwide market share at a little over 3%.

Here’s how Edge has evolved from Internet Explorer.

It was acquired by a Chinese consortium led by Golden Brick Capital Private in 2024. Opera has recently released a dedicated Web 3 Crypto browser.

Safari is another browser popular amongst Apple product users. It first appeared in 2003 for Mac OS X, while the mobile version was introduced with iPhone OS 1 in 2007. It also had a Windows version, available from 2007 to 2012.

Safari uses WebKit rendering engine and has Google as the default search engine. It currently holds over 18% of the browser market share worldwide.

Samsung Internet

Brave Browser

Vivaldi Browser

UC Browser, etc.

The new developments in the Web 3.0 space might soon change how we use our browsers. Here are some Web 3.0 browsers that you may be interested in and yes, Brave is a part of it.

Making The Most Of The Holidays In It

I was in the office during the week of Christmas and not a soul was stirring, not even a mouse. To be truthful, the little rolling ball in my mouse was making an annoying squeaking sound and I really had been meaning to order a wireless mouse. But you know how the little things never get done in IT because we are all so busy (barely) keeping up with the big things day by day (and sometimes night by night).

Well guess what? This is the perfect time of year to tackle the tasks resulting from your year long procrastination. You need to get off your rump and put all that energy stored from over consumption of holiday party treats to good use.

A lot of people take this time off for vacation and if that includes you, stop reading this article and go back to sunning yourself on the beach. But if you are one of the unfortunate souls stuck behind the desk the last week of December, this is your time to make a list and check it twice.

Over the years, here are some tasks I have tackled and a few I wish I would have (and still might this year). Not all of these are tangible, but that doesn’t make them less important.

• Take a look at your desk. Can you see it? Or do you see a stack of papers? It may be that you know exactly where everything is (as I claim) but one strong breeze from a hastily closed door or an accidental spill of your coffee mug would put your “filing” system in disarray. Take this time to clean up your desk and do some filing. You may even come across some papers that will add a couple more tasks that otherwise would have been overlooked.

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• The holiday season is a great time to network. Take account of important people in your network that you haven’t connected with recently. Either drop them an email or give them a call to see what’s new and fill them in on your recent doings. This is the time of year where people are in a good mood to connect and you might set the stage for a business or personal opportunity in the coming year.

• Continuing on the networking front, if you have been postponing joining an online network now is the time. The dominant player is LinkedIn and it seems to be loaded with IT professionals. If you enter your professional profile now, by the end of next year at this time you’ll have a burgeoning network that you can leverage for answers to technical questions, finding recommended contractors and job searches (hiring for your team and for your next job).

• Take a close look at your heavy usage personal hardware. Many companies have set plans to cycle equipment every so many years, but many do not. Identify the desktops, laptops, printers, PDA’s, etc. that keep needing repairs or are more than a few years old and do some holiday shopping for the business.

4 Tips To Make The Most Of Google Talk

It’s been a pleasure to watch Google Talk enter the over-saturated niche of popular instant messages and then quickly dominate. I am Google Talk user myself. I can vaguely understand why I ultimately chose it over other IMs I would use; probably because most of my contacts have only one thing in common: Gtalk.

So today I am sharing a few best tips on how to make the most of your Gtalk:

Featured tip 1: use Google Talk as a translator:

Translate using Google Talk (the feature runs on Google Translate). Just add any of the bots below (there may be many more) and send them messages of the text you want to translate):

Bot

Translation

from Arabic into English from German into English from French into English from Greek into English from Spanish into English from Japanese into English from Korean into English from Dutch into English from Russian into English from Chinese into English

Featured tip 2: use Gtalk as a free and easy website live chat client:

You can place Gtalk button on your site and let your site visitors contact you using it. Create your Google Talk badge here;

Featured Google Talk client: Digsby

DigsBy is by far my favorite third-party Google talk application not because it offers some extra-ordinary Gmail possibilities (well, it does have some cool GTalk enhancements) but because it integrates all my major IMs and social media networks in one handy tool. The platform it supports include:

IMs: GTalk, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook chat;

Email notifications: Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL mail;

Social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace.

Some cool features I am personally using:

For each social network add as many accounts as you want;

Sort Gtalk (and other) contacts into groups (!);

Set tracking for any GTalk buddy: e.g. get notified when some person signs in or changes the status message;

See all the contact info when hovering over;

Sort contacts by name, status,

Reply right from the pop-up;

Manage multiple conversations with tabbed conversation windows;

Set your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn status right from Digsby;

Synchronize your settings and accounts between computers.

Featured FireFox extension: gTalk Sidebar

gTalk Sidebar is a handy FireFox addon that integrates Google Talk with FireFox.

Use Alt+G shortcut to open it, and use it as default desktop application.

It In 2006: Google, Linux, Digg, Web

Most of the big tech stories of 2006 have already gotten far too much coverage. Does anyone not know that HP hit a serious bump in the road this year due to its snooping on employees and board members?

Other stories – with far more long-term importance – have gotten much less ink.

Web-based apps change everything. The over-arching importance of Vista or Leopard is greatly lessened when you can log on and work with an application that was designed (using industry standards) to be interoperable with a slew of other programs – regardless of their core OS. As an added plus, these built-in standards allow you to work with Web-based apps using any browser, instead of having to use IE.

In the future, the hoopla surrounding the release of a new Windows OS will be replaced by a big collective yawn. A new OS? So what? Caring about operating systems is so 20th century.

The Rise and Fall Of Digg

The apparent gathering place for all tech news, Digg, is ending the year on a less than happy note.

But Digg seems to be a victim of its own success. Marketers and scammers have caught on, and all manner of schemes have sprung up to artificially boost a story’s popularity.

For example, the User/Submitter site purports to sell popularity on Digg in exchange for mere filthy lucre. (The site claim to pay .50 cents for every 3 stories you digg. “Digg Users Make Easy Money,” the site says.)

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As Digg itself concedes on its blog, its site has an issue with fraudulent postings and pay-for-digg popularity. Apparently Digg is working to remedy problems. But at the moment it’s not clear who’s winning, legitimate readers or spammers. Digg, if it’s not careful, could be co-opted by marketers.

Novell: Operating Systems Make Strange Bedfellows

Whenever you can ink a deal that makes you the first Linux vendor to work in concert with Microsoft – as Novell did in November – you know you’re scoring big time. Oh sure, the two partners had some tussles about the deal. You knew that putting Microsoft and Linux in the same room couldn’t have been all sunshine and smiles.

Still, Novell, whose fortunes haven’t been all that great recently, earned points for aggressive business maneuvering. On Microsoft’s part, the alliance seemed to be a case of, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Or, more accurately, “If you can’t beat ‘em, try and control ‘em.”

Speculation about the long-term result of the deal has run rampant since the announcement. Predictions range from the demise of all other Linux vendors to the end of Microsoft as we know it (if Redmond has acknowledged the devil of Linux, then the end must be nigh).

For your viewing pleasure, here it is one more time:

November 2, 2006: Microsoft Likes (Novell) Linux

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Oracle Is a Big Bad Wolf

Here’s what Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison proclaimed to the audience at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in October:

“If you are a Red Hat support customer, you can very easily switch from Red Hat support to Oracle support.”

And with that, Ellison proved that companies with really deep pockets and really long client lists (like Oracle) can push around companies with not-as-deep pockets and not-as-long client lists (like Red Hat). Oracle, by announcing it would offer its own free clone of the Linux OS, along with low-cost support – not to mention indemnification from intellectual property litigation – positioned itself to take a big bite out of Red Hat’s business.

(But rumors of Red Hat’s demise are greatly exaggerated. The company just reported it added a whopping 12,000 customers in the recent quarter, with a revenue jump of 45%.)

In retrospect, Oracle’s announcement seems to go hand in hand with the Microsoft-Novell alliance. Taken as a pair, the two news items indicated that the biggest of the big dogs, and any last remaining hold-outs, are now acknowledging that Linux is a dominant force in enterprise software – and they need to get on the train before it leaves the station.

IT Workers: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

The year 2006 was a good one for tech professionals, with 2007 also expected to be healthy. As noted in this survey of IT salaries, pay levels across the industry are rising, if not at a leap-and-bounds rate.

This article about next year’s hot tech jobs (and this article as well, which covers Linux openings) talks about hiring trends in 2007. Is it time to dust off your resume?

Next page: Linux-Mac-Windows Cross Platform, Plus: Pricing vs. Technology

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