After the internet came into existence in the 1990s, it opened the doors to a world of new opportunities. Since then, it has evolved, and one of the changes over time has been the growth of the seemingly unknown world of ‘Dark Web’ where only a few dare to venture.
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about the dark web, which has caught the younger crowd’s attention in particular. On the other hand, adults are concerned about the ‘Dark Web’ and what it might entail. Unfortunately, a majority of the news and media focus around the Dark Web is negative, which creates a sense of anxiety for some, while others are thrilled.
So the question is – Is the Dark Web all bad? The simple answer to this question is no! No technology is inherently bad or good; however, the ways people use technology cause problems. There are both negative and positive sides to the Dark Web, just like every area of the internet.
We encourage people of all ages to learn more about the different parts of the internet, look into the facts, and arrive at an informed conclusion. Today’s article will provide you with general information about the Dark Web, how one can safely access it, and the risks involved. Let’s take a look. Shall we?
Defining the ‘Open Web’, ‘Deep Web’ and ‘Dark Web’
What Is The ‘Open Web’
The part of the internet that is publicly visible, which is what most of us use daily. The way to access the Open Web is through search engines like Google.
What Is The ‘Deep Web’
The Deep Web is the hidden part of the internet that isn’t available for the public, so it cannot be accessed through search engines. One can reach the deep web in other ways, which include having privileges or through passwords.
The ‘Deep Web’ is largely databases that are accessed over the ‘Open Web.’ Following are some of what’s the deep web made up of:
- The contents of personal email accounts
- The contents of social media accounts
- The content of internet banking accounts
- Data from private databases owned by companies
- The scientific and academic database content
- Medical records
- Legal documents
Authorized people can only access the content stored on the deep web; one example is employees of a company reading data from the firm’s database, which is password protected. In other words, the Deep Web holds private information that isn’t available to everyone, and you probably don’t want others to know, for instance, how much money you have in your bank account because it can be misused.
Just remember: Whenever you log in to an account by using a username, password, or another form of authentication, you are accessing data on the deep web. This part of the internet has a layer of security, privacy, and anonymity to some extent.
What Is The ‘Dark Web’
When you access the internet through a device, for example, a smartphone, computer, or tablet, you are given an Internet Protocol or IP address, according to your location, which is a unique online identity on the internet.
An IP address is important for several reasons, such as allowing networks to deliver the right information to the correct place. Furthermore, it allows authorities to track and monitor an individual through their unique IP, which means you are anonymous or private.
On the other hand, the Dark Web focuses on anonymity by using complex systems for concealing IP addresses, which means it’s very difficult to figure out which web addresses the user visited. One of the most popular ways of accessing the Dark Web is TOR, which is short for The Onion Router.
It must be noted that TOR isn’t the Dark Web, instead, it’s a means of browsing different areas of the internet, also known as a browser. The special thing about TOR is that it uses a technology that makes it hard to identify any user or track their online activity.
The Purpose of The Deep Web And The Dark Web
The main reasons behind both the deep web and the dark web are anonymity and privacy of different degrees.
The deep web is a place where personal information is kept safe from the public. However, it isn’t entirely anonymous or private. For instance, when you open your online bank account, the bank is also aware of this activity.
In contrast, The dark web works on the principle of complete anonymity so that whatever happens on the deep web stays untracked or untraced. But you have to access it using specialized browsers.
The people who have serious privacy concerns tend to prefer the dark web, as it allows them the greatest control over their personal information that they don’t want anyone, including their ISPs or websites, to have or use. The websites on the dark web aren’t indexed.
Law-abiding citizens also use the dark web because it allows them freedom of speech, privacy, and anonymity, which they believe is their right according to the first amendment. With the help of dark web browsers, they are free to express their opinions, without the fear of being identified or tracked.
What Does The Dark Web Contain?
As we talked about previously, a high level of anonymity is the modus operandi of the dark web. Having said that, just like the open web, there are both harmless and illegal activities and content on the dark web.
Just to be clear, there are a lot of dark and dangerous things on dark websites. However, there are some legit websites and forums because not everyone visits the dark web to wage illegal transactions or criminal activity. Some people are there to read public-interest news, play games, or communicate anonymously and safely.
Honestly, the dark web is notorious for its better dark content, which includes illegal as well as extremely disturbing activities.
Following are some of the illegal, dangerous, and disturbing things you can encounter on the dark web:
- Selling And Buying Of Stolen Information. Ever wondered what happens to the information from data breaches? Well, there is a high probability that all that info ends up on the Dark Web for sale. This information can include anything from Social Security numbers, credit/debit card numbers, email log-in credentials, Netflix accounts details, and more.
- Buying and Selling Of Illicit Substances. Another thing the dark web is notorious for is the peddling of Illegal drugs including prescription drugs. Toxic chemicals that you otherwise can’t buy without a special permit can also be found on sale on the dark web.
- Sale Of Disturbing And Dangerous Products, Content, And Services. This is another widely talked about part of the dark web. One can sell or buy dangerous and disturbing goods and services gory videos, murderers-for-hire, body parts, human trafficking, counterfeit items, child pornography, and guns.
As you might be able to now tell that on the dark web, one can buy just about anything. However, we can say with certainty that no one needs to buy such items.
You must be wondering how these transactions are made and if money and conventional banking are involved?
The dark web runs on cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin, which allows buyers and sellers to make financial transactions anonymously.
Is the dark web safe?
If you are only accessing legitimate content, then the dark web can be considered safe. However, it can be highly risky if you are getting involved in the following, and it can also land you in serious trouble:
- Breaking legal boundaries: If you are found guilty of breaking legal boundaries and being involved in any activity against the law on the dark web, you can be prosecuted.
- Being involved in criminal activities: if you get involved in websites run by criminals, there is a huge risk of landing into multiple troubles. These websites can persuade you to purchase illegal goods and services from them. There is also a significant chance that they will exploit you and your sensitive data like bank and crypto trading account details.
- Suspicious links: There is a chance that you will click on a suspicious link that might lead you to video material or other illegal material that you do not want to see. Clicking on suspicious links can also download files without permission that can infect your devices with malware. These links can also lead to your online activities being monitored via your connected devices.
- Law enforcement agencies: It is possible that you’ll end up getting in the eyes of Law enforcement agencies. Like others on the dark web, these agencies also work in anonymity to track down criminals and criminal activities on the dark web.
If you still wish to explore the dark web, ensure that you do your research beforehand and only access websites that you are confident about.
What is Tor?
The short form of “The Onion Router,” Tor is an open-source privacy network. With Tor, you can browse the web anonymously. The Tor network hides and protects users’ IP addresses from unwanted surveillance. Tor encrypts data in multiple layers and keeps users’ identities, communications, transactions, and requests private and untraceable.
The Tor browser also deletes browsing history and clears all cookies after every browsing session. Tod also has several other features to safeguard your online activities from surveillance and tracking.
Is it safe to access the dark web with the Tor browser?
Wondering how to access the deep web? Accessing the dark web is not as complex as it is portrayed. To access the dark web, all you need is to download Tor or any other dark web browser. Once the browser is installed, you can safely access the dark web.
However, when it comes to finding your desired material, that is where it gets complicated. The dark web doesn’t have a search engine like google with indexing and a ranking system to help you in finding your desired material.
However, you can try using dark web search engines like the Uncensored Hidden Wiki for guidance to content on the dark web. Remember to stay cautious as it can lead you to illegal websites and content.
Is Tor illegal to use?
Using Tor or other similar anonymized browsers is not essentially illegal. However, you can get into trouble for accessing illegal content and other suspicious activities. Although Tor is popularly known as a “dark web” browser, it was not exclusively made for this purpose.
Today, thousands of people use it to privately access both the public internet and the deeper parts of the internet. Tor is popular and trusted for the privacy it provides to its users, protecting them from corporations and governing bodies’ unauthorized online surveillance.
So, it is not essential to use Tor only for accessing the dark web, but people popularly use it to hide their online activities from government agencies or even ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Tor is also popularly used to access geo-restricted public sites.
Several other activities can incriminate you, no matter if your browser is legal or not. Activities like pirating copyrighted content from the dark web, engaging in cyber-terrorism, sharing illegal pornography, and other such activities. Regardless of the legality of your browser, your ill practices can land you in trouble.
7 Best tips for accessing the dark web safely
- Be cautious. Getting scammed on the dark web is more likely than not; therefore, it is important to be cautious and smart. Wondering how to access the dark web safely? The best tip is to use a safe dark web browser like Tor.
Also, do your research beforehand to avoid accessing websites with malicious content, illegal activities, and scams. Avoid talking to others and never share anything about yourself. If you find yourself in a suspicious situation, quit immediately!
- Avoid sharing personal information. No matter what the situation is, never [repeat: never] share your actual name, cell phone number, email ID, any account username or password, your actual location, your bank account and card details, your crypto trading details, or anything as such.
Always enter the dark web with brand-new throwaway accounts and details. If you wish to make purchases on the dark web, only use prepaid, unidentifiable debit cards. Never share anything that could be used to track you in real life.
- Never download any files from the dark web. Although the risk of malware infection can be avoided by scanning your dark web files with reliable antivirus software. However, it is best to avoid downloading any dark web file unless it’s necessary.
- Disable Java and ActiveX. It is essential to disable both Java and ActiveX to ensure that they don’t get probed and exploited by malicious parties. The dark web network is filled with threats; therefore, minimize your risk by disabling Java, ActiveX, and all other similar services on all connected networks.
- Take additional security measures. Although Tor provides excellent network privacy. For additional security and anonymity, it is a smart idea to use a reliable VPN service. Also, don’t use your native account with full administrative permissions by default on all connected computers.
It is highly recommended to use a non-admin secondary local user account to access the dark web to avoid risking other connected computers.
- Never leave your Tor-enabled devices unattended. If you want to visit the dark web, you have to take complete responsibility for its risks and also protect your family from getting uninformed access to the dark web. Log out and shut down your devices after accessing the dark web to ensure no one (especially the ones that are underage or uninformed about the risks and threats of the dark web) gets the access.
Is using Tor and accessing the dark web risky for young people?
Using the Tor browser doesn’t mean that the user is surely involved in illegal or suspicious activities. Young minds are curious; therefore, if you find a young person using Tor or trying to access the dark web, then have open conversations with them and explain the risks and dangers of accessing the dark web.
There is a chance that they might want to use Tor for increasing their online privacy and anonymity. Discuss and guide them about other more options that are more secure and private, like routers with security features or reliable VPN services.
Best VPNs provide an additional layer of security. Therefore, your information is securely encrypted, and your IP address is masked with the server you are connected to, so you can safely perform all of your online activities anonymously.
The dark web has its risks and threats; therefore, never access the dark web without taking precautionary measures. Always select the safest ways to access the dark web. Research the websites that you want to visit to minimize the risk of getting involved in illegal activities and infecting your devices with malicious content.
Have you ever explored the dark web? If yes, then please share your tried and tested safety tips with us in the comments section. If not, are you planning to access it? Are you scared of accessing it? Please share your thoughts and dark web questions in the comments section.
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