Not many people realize that the websites they visit daily only make a small percentage of the entire internet. The deep web is found beyond the surface web and its deepest part is known as the dark web. Although many people know that the dark web exists, they do not know much about it. If you are interested in the darknet and hidden internet, you have come to the right place. This post shares everything that you need to know.
So, What Exactly Is The Dark Web?
To better understand the dark web, you need to understand the darknet. It is hidden internet that can only be accessed through a specific network configuration or a particular browser. Generally, when people talk about the dark web, they refer to the content that requires authorization or special software to access and is not indexed. The dark web uses encryption to keep communication private and offers anonymity.
To remain anonymous and be able to access the hidden part of the web, specific software is needed. Now, you might have heard that it is a lawless place that is buzzing with criminal activity. However, it is a lot more than that. When you access dark web links, you will come to realize that it is a space that is truly anonymous which is something that can either be appreciated or abused.
The History behind the Dark Web
Freenet was released back in 2000. It marked the starting of it all. It was a project of a student by the name of Ian Clarke. The project was meant to provide an anonymous technique for communicating, interacting online, and exchanging files. When researchers were given support from the Naval Research Laboratory in 2002, the dark web grew considerably and the network was released during this period. In the early days of the internet, it was easy to track people. However, it was difficult to remain anonymous. The network offered a communication channel for American agents and political revolutionaries. It was later that the underlying code behind Tor became available and the Tor Project, an NGO was formed. Then, the Tor Browser became available to the masses in 2008 and it allowed just about everyone to access the hidden web. It proved to be a game-changer.
Deep Web Vs Dark Web
There are quite a few differences between the deep web and the dark web. The main difference between the two is that the former simply refers to sites that are not indexed by a search engine. On the other hand, the latter relies on darknets. These are networks that require special techniques and software to be accessed. Even though the dark web is considered to live on the deep web, it has been developed on darknets that exist online and can only be accessed with the help of Tor links or special tools.
When we consider the deep web, it comprises content that can only be accessed with passwords, logins, authentication forms, and paywalls. Most content which people access is on the deep web such as subscription services, social network account, online banking accounts, and email. For those of you that do not know much about Tor, it is a tool that provides onion links to anonymize your identity. You should be able to use a Tor browser for accessing the part of the web that is otherwise inaccessible. What makes Tor browsers stand out is that they use onion routing for encrypting and routing traffic by leveraging various servers to provide private browsing by hiding your online identity. Moreover, every domain on the hidden web ends with .onion rather than .com. The multiple layers of the onion refer to the various encryption layers.
How Can You Enter The Dark Web?
The easiest option for accessing the hidden web is by downloading Tor Browser. It will redirect traffic and enable you to access hidden internet. On the browser, you can visit any URL by adding a .onion domain. The best way to enter the darknet is using Tor links. However, it is a good idea to use a VPN for added safety. Since most governments and internet providers are suspicious of anyone who uses Tor, it makes sense to use a VPN for hiding your online activity and preventing them from finding out that you are even using Tor. Always choose a reputable VPN for the best experience.
What Is Tor Browser?
If you have never used Tor Browser, it is a browser that is available for free and helps route traffic by encrypting the Tor network. You can head over to the Tor website to download the Tor browser. Make sure to avoid downloading a third-party, unlicensed browser as it is likely to have malware.
Once you have downloaded Tor Browser, you should be able to access domains with .onion. However, you must avoid visiting dark websites until you have confirmed their authenticity. The reason behind this is that the deepest part of the web is mostly unregulated. Even though not every dark website is dangerous, there are plenty of scams. Always use anonymous and encrypted email addresses when making purchases or communicating. In addition to this, you should make payments using cryptocurrency. Before you decide to access the hidden web, you will first need to download a tool that provides much-needed protection.
Are There Any Tools That You Can Use?
Browsing dark web links using onion links is different from regular internet browsing. However, with the right tools, you get to browse the hidden internet. You can rely on forums like Reddit and search engines on the dark web to find dark sites that are reliable. As Tor Browser is the preferred web browser for darknet, you can rely on it. It will allow you to reach the darknet with the help of onion links or Tor links. Thus, you can rest assured that your online identity would remain anonymous. However, you must be prepared for much slower browsing.
Unlike the web search engines on the surface web which restrict access to the hidden net, you can turn to a dedicated web search engine to do the work for you. A great search engine that does not track your web activity is DuckDuckGo. To access DuckDuckGo, you need Tor Browser. Besides DuckDuckGo, you can use Haystack, Torch, and Not Evil. You can use Reddit for learning more about the deep web as it will provide you with access to what users have to say about their experience with the deep web and dark web.
To visit a dark website, you need to use the right web browser. The majority of URLs on the dark web tend to be strings of random numbers and letters, unlike the URLs that live on the surface web which are instantly recognizable. You can have an idea about the type of dark web links you will encounter by visiting The Hidden Wiki which is a popular surface website that offers various web links that allow you to access the dark web. The Hidden Wiki is worth checking out. It contains dark web links which might not work. You must be careful when trying to access any of these links.
Is It A Crime To Enter The Dark Net?
When it comes to the legality behind entering the darknet, every country has different laws and regulations that you need to be aware of. However, it is legal to visit the darknet in the US by using Tor. But, it is best to use a VPN to prevent your internet service provider or the government from gaining access to your online activity on the dark web. Even though it is legal to visit the hidden web, committing any form of crime is not.
What Is The Size of the Dark Web?
When you first start accessing the hidden web, you might find it to be large. However, it is not that big in reality. According to researchers, it has been found that there are over 55,000 onion domains at present and around 8,400 of them are active. It would make the dark web very small when compared to the everyday web which has more than a billion websites.
The domains on the dark web are normally inconsistent and new domains are created all the time while others disappear. It all makes sense as some of the websites offer illegal or at least questionable items. It is important to mention that over a million people use Tor daily. Close to 86% of the dark websites have English as the default language. Other websites are either in German or Russian.
What Can You Expect From The Dark Web At Present?
Since anonymity and privacy serve as the pillars of the hidden web, it is easy for one to think that everything is illegal. Even though plenty of cybercrimes occurs on the hidden web, a lot of activity is legal as well. There are many people who do not disclose their information online and access normal websites outside the hidden web using Tor.
Is The Dark Web Used For Illegal Activities?
The truth is that the hidden web is commonly used for illegal activities. It is used for buying and selling malware, illegal drugs, and forbidden content at darknet marketplaces. There are even some eCommerce sites on the darknet that sell dangerous weapons and chemicals. Similarly, some hackers sell ransomware, whereas, others offer illegal software tools that cybercriminals utilize for infecting victims and stealing personal data. The Silk Road is the most popular marketplace on the dark web. It was launched back in 2011. It functions just like Amazon and is used for selling illegal drugs. However, the FBI closed it permanently back in 2013 and arrested Ross Ulbricht, its founder.
The dark web is home to all types of scams. Most of the offers are simply unrealistic. Hackers sell social network accounts, email accounts, and other information which one can use to steal identities. You need to use the right software to stay on the right side.
What Can You Buy On The Hidden Web?
The dark web has a huge market for legal and illegal goods and services. Illegal items can be easily bought. The following are some of the things that you can expect to buy.
- Cloned MasterCard or Visa with PIN
- Hacked Coinbase Account
- Online banking details that have been stolen
- Forged EU passport
- Hacked social media accounts
- Android malware
Data breaches show up much faster on the hidden web and are more common. If a data broker gets hacked, his or her stolen data including compromised social security details, credited cars, and just about every type of data would be exposed. It is possible for users to have their identities stolen. If your identity is stolen, you must immediately report the theft. Make sure to avoid identity theft by using the right tools.
Is Accessing The Dark Web Risky?
The question that might be troubling you is whether the hidden web is even dangerous or not. There is no denying that the dark web is dangerous as there are no regulations in place. It is a far more dangerous place to surf through when compared to the surface web.
There are scams and malware all over the hidden web. With countless unfamiliar-looking websites, it is important that you are careful and do not access a shady website. People who regularly access the ark web know how to navigate the space without suffering at the hands of cybercriminals.
The main purpose of the hidden web is to facilitate anonymous browsing. It is up to you to use the dark web for engaging in criminal activity or not. However, you need to ensure privacy protection while browsing the dark web. For people who live in a country where freedom of speech is restricted, hidden web domains provide freedom.