The dark web has a pretty seedy reputation. The phrase itself conjures up images of virtual back alleyways where drug dealers and people smugglers go about their illegal business. But is the dark web really as dark as people think it is?
The good and the bad
While there may be a fair bit of illegal stuff going on, the reality is that much of what’s hidden on the dark web is actually legal. The dark web offers users anonymity, a blessing for repressed parts of the world where accessing certain information is forbidden. It offers the chance for free speech, allowing activists and whistleblowers to freely express their views without disclosing their identities.
If you’re considering checking out the dark web, there’s a few things you need to know and consider before delving in.
Lurking below the surface
The World Wide Web as we all know it is called the clear net. It’s the thing everyone uses every day. But this is just the tip of the iceberg as it constitutes only 4% of all online content.
Simmering away below the surface is the other 96% known as the deep web, everything not indexed by search engines and that will never appear in a Google search. The dark web represents just a tiny fraction of the deep web — around 1%. As none of the pages will appear using everyday search engines, the deep and dark web have to be accessed using a special anonymizing browser, such as Tor. More about this later.
While browsing the dark web, there are some hidden dangers that you should be aware of.
The market for malicious software is a growing business. On the dark web, malware can be bought, sold, and traded for bitcoins, just like any other piece of software. The place is full of keylogger and botnet malware so make sure any device you use is equipped with security software before heading into the dark web realm.
Stolen identities are big business and it only takes one slip about a personal detail for your identity to be the next one available for auction. Our advice? Trust no one and be careful of what you reveal.
Illegal and disturbing content
As we said before, not everything on the dark web is illegal. However, there’s still plenty of illicit goings-on that you need to be aware of. There are plenty of illegal websites selling drugs, credit card numbers, counterfeit money, and even child pornography. There’s always the chance you could stumble upon questionable or disturbing content.
The Tor browser tries to conceal a user’s location and online activity by encrypting data and bouncing traffic between volunteer relays located throughout the world. However, as Tor node IPs are public, websites can see that Tor is being used which can draw unwanted attention and raise suspicions.
To mitigate the risks and maintain privacy, use Tor after connecting through a VPN. What VPNs do is shield a user by showing ISPs that you’re connecting via a VPN server rather than through a Tor node.
The dark web is an intriguing place and one that can be explored safely if you take the right measures. Follow our advice and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t dive into the dark web while keeping yourself, your data, and your device secure.