The dark web is that the hidden collective of websites only accessible by a specialized browser. It is used for keeping internet activity anonymous and personal,which may be helpful in both legalized as well as illegalized applications.
While some use it to evade government censorship, it’s also been known to be utilized for high criminality. The dark web refers to sites that aren’t indexed and can only be accessed via specialized web browsers. Significantly smaller than the small surface web, the dark web is considered a neighborhood of the deep web. Using our ocean and iceberg visual, the dark web would-be rock-bottom tip of the submerged iceberg.
Breaking down the development of the dark web reveals a couple of key layers that make it an anonymous haven:
- No webpage indexing by surface web search engines. Google and other popular search engines are not able to discover or display results for pages within the dark web.
- “Virtual traffic tunnels” via a randomized network infrastructure.
- Inaccessible by traditional browsers thanks to its unique registry operator. Also, it’s further hidden by various network security measures like firewalls and encryption.
How to access the dark web
The dark web was once the province of hackers, enforcement officers, and cybercriminals. However, new technology like encryption and the anonymization browser software, Tor, now makes it possible for anyone to dive dark if they’re interested.
Tor (“The Onion Routing” project) network browser provides users access to visit websites with the “. onion” registry operator. This browser may be a service originally developed within the latter a part of the 1990s by the us Naval lab.
Understanding that the character of the web meant a scarcity of privacy, an early version of Tor was created to cover spy communications. Eventually, the framework was repurposed and has since been made public in the form of the browser we know today. Anyone can download it free of charge.
Think of Tor as an internet browser like Google Chrome or Firefox. Notably, rather than taking the foremost direct route between your computer and therefore the deep parts of the online, the Tor browser uses a random path of encrypted servers known as “nodes.” this enables users to attach to the deep web without worrying of their actions being tracked or their browser history being exposed.
Sites on the deep web also use Tor (or similar software like I2P, the “Invisible Internet Project”) to stay anonymous, meaning you will not be ready to determine who’s running them or where they’re being hosted.
Is it illegal to go on the dark web?
Simply put, no it’s not illegal to access the dark web. In fact, some uses are perfectly legal and support the worth of the “dark web.” On the dark web, users can hunt down three clear benefits from its use:
- User anonymity
- Virtually untraceable services and sites
- Ability to require illegal actions for both users and providers.
As such, the dark web has attracted many parties who would rather be endangered by revealing their identities online. Abuse and persecution victims, whistleblowers, and political dissidents are frequent users of those hidden sites. But of course, these benefits can be easily extended to those that want to act outside of the constraints of laws in other explicitly illegal ways.
When viewed through this lens, the dark web’s legality is predicated on how you as a user engage with it. You might fall to the wayside of legal lines for several reasons that are important for the protection of freedom. Others may act in ways in which are illegal for the protection and safety of others. Let’s unpack both of those concepts in terms of the “dark web browser” and therefore the websites themselves.
Types of threats on the dark web:
1. Malicious software
Malicious software — i.e., malware — is fully alive across the dark web. It is often offered in some portals to offer threat actors the tools for cyberattacks. However, it also lingers across the dark web to infect unsuspecting users a bit like it does on the remainder of the online.
The dark web doesn’t carry as many of the social contracts that website providers follow to guard users on the remainder of the online. As such, users can find themselves regularly exposed to some sorts of malware like:
- Botnet malware
- Phishing malware
If you decide on to pursue exploring any sites on the dark web, you set yourself in peril of being singled out and targeted for hacks and more. Most malware infections are often caught by your endpoint security programs.
2. Government monitoring
Infiltrations can put you at risk of monitoring for other types of activity as well. Evading government restrictions to explore new political ideologies can be an imprisonable offense in some countries. China uses what is known as the “Great Firewall” to limit access to popular sites for this exact reason. The risk of being a visitor to this content could lead to being placed on a watchlist or immediate targeting for a jail sentence.
Some of these are well-known, established threats that circulate in this nook of the web. However, others may be taking advantage of the dark web’s reputation to trick users out of large sums of money. Also, some users on the dark web may attempt phishing scams to steal your identity or personal information for extortion.
How to access the dark web safely?
If you have a legitimate or viable need to access the dark web, you’ll want to make sure you stay safe if you decide to use it.
7 Tips for safe access to the dark web
- Trust your intuition.
- Detach your online persona from real life.
- Employ active monitoring of identity and financial theft.
- Explicitly avoid dark web file downloads.
- Disable ActiveX and Java in any available network settings.
- Use a secondary non-admin local user account for all daily activities.
- Always restrict access to your Tor-enabled device.