How to Safely Access and Navigate the Dark Web

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When the dark web is mentioned, most people cringe as they have very negative thoughts about it, and with good reason. However, accessing and navigating the dark web is easier than you think. There is a lot of confusion about the deep web and the dark web, meaning different things.

What is the deep web?

The deep web, also known as the hidden or invisible web, is part of the internet. The deep web contents are hidden, unindexed, and inaccessible via the regular web search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and Bing. The dark web’s opposite is the surface web, which is accessible by anyone and it is what we use daily to search for items on the internet.

Besides the unindexed pages, the deep web also contains FFS (Fee for Service) sites like Netflix, whose content you have to pay to view, private databases, and the dark web. The deep web also contains other data that cannot be accessed via regular search engines, such as the information in your social media, email, and bank accounts contents, etc. Now that we know what the deep web is, let us explore the dark web.

What is the dark Web?

The dark web is a sector of the internet that is not indexed by the average search engines such as Google or Yahoo. The average browser cannot access a dark website whose IP address is hidden. The dark web sites can only be accessed via a unique tool such as The Onion Router TOR. The Onion is undetectable and offers users anonymity while on the web by encrypting your IP address via a secure network.

The dark web has an ominous ring to it, and with good reason. The dark web is full of black markets laden with everything illegal, from human and drug traffickers, black hat hackers, and stolen credit card details. It also contains legal information such as book sales, a site where people can express their views without fear under the cover of anonymity, or a site full of riddles.

When you access the dark web, you do not browse through the regular interconnected servers you typically access using the standard browsers. On the Tor network, everything stays within the system, providing privacy and security for all. It is worth noting that the dark web site addresses do not end with .com. .gov or .org like the clear web, but ends with .onion.

Dangers of using the dark web

The dark web is full of dangers, such as:

  • Malware

Malware or malicious software is rampant on the dark web. Malware is sold on some portals, so some malicious actors acquire the tools they need for a cyberattack. If you are not careful on the dark web, you might click on links or visit portals infected with malware.

You are exposed to different malware on the dark web, such as:

  • Keyloggers that record all your activities on the web and all your keystrokes while you type
  • Botnet malware, which is responsible for attacks such as Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.
  • Ransomware encrypts all your data, and you have to pay the hackers some money for a decryption key.
  • Phishing malware, which infects your computer when you click infected links on emails or download attachments. The malware prompts you to provide login details, which hackers mine and use to hack into your accounts.

Identity Theft

The dark web is full of identity thieves, who will easily steal your identity and use it to commit financial fraud or other illegal activities. The hackers might use your identity to hack into your bank or social media account, pretending to be you, and make financial transactions or post harmful posts.

Scams

Some services offered on the dark web might be scams aimed at defrauding you. The dark web provides thousands of illegal services, from paid hitmen to weapons, sex, and drug trafficking. Once you fall for the scam, the scammers will steal your hard-earned money and vanish into thin air, and unfortunately, there is no way of tracing them, as most payments are made via cryptocurrency.

Illegal services

As mentioned, the dark web is a haven for illegal activities such as hired assassins, drugs, and sex trafficking. The government often tracks some of these sites, and you may get into trouble if you involve yourself with illegal deals such as trying to buy a weapon, drugs, sell or purchase child pornography

How to protect yourself while on the dark web

You can access the dark web and still stay safe by taking some of these measures:

Use security tools

The TOR encryption might be strong, but by no means impenetrable. Using a VPN strengthens and adds a security layer that prevents anyone from hacking into your browser.

Using security tools is one of the ways you can keep yourself safe on the dark web. Using a VPN for security will go a long way in encrypting your data and hiding your real identity and location. When you log in via a VPN, it allocates you to a virtual site in one of its many servers, making you anonymous as you browse.

Update your Tor software

Every time you launch the Tor browser, ensure you check for any updates before using the browser, and switch the browser’s security level to ‘High.’

Tor often addresses any bugs, vulnerabilities, and threats very fast, making it crucial that you keep your Tor browser updated all the time. Using the latest version ensures the dangers in the previous version are eliminated.

Beware the sites you visit.

We have already established the dark web is too much of a dangerous place to visit sites carelessly. Be careful of the sites you visit; otherwise, you might land yourself into legal trouble.

The dark web is full of questionable characters, and since the Tor servers keep all users anonymous, the dark web has no control over the products or services therein. There is also no way of tracking any financial transactions as all payments are made via Bitcoin, which is under no central bank regulation.

Other sites might infect your computer with malware, so be careful which site you visit, and if you must, take the necessary precautions.

Protect your identity

To prevent identity theft, you need to keep your online and real-life persona separate. Your user and real name, email address, credit card, and passwords should never be used on the dark web. Create a new persona, new identifiers, and accounts. Get new unidentifiable and prepaid debit cards for making online purchases. Never use any markers that could identify you, or tie your real identity with the online identity.

Stay vigilant

Being vigilant will save you a lot of grief from scammers. Use your intuitive feelers to weed out scammers by being aware of the type of sites you visit and who you talk to online. If a situation feels off, it is because it probably is. Extricate yourself from any situation that feels off before it is too late.

Avoid downloads on the dark web.

The risk of malware infections is higher on the dark web. Avoid downloading any files. If you download anything, perform a real-time scan using high-end antivirus software to check for any malware.

Conclusion

The dark web is not called dark for no reason. It is full of shady dealings and illegal activities. However, this does not mean there are no meaningful sites on the dark web. To visit this web, take these measures for your security, and if you have no business on the dark web, you might as well stay away from it.

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