The dark web is a part of the internet only accessible via a specific browser called Tor. Dark sites tend to live on messy URLs. Not only are they almost impossible to remember but they frequently change to maintain their privacy. The dark web is a part of the internet hidden from search engines, using masked IP addresses and only accessible using a special web browser. The world wide web can be divided into three categories, the surface web, deep web and dark web.
The surface web
The surface web also referred to as the indexed web or visible web is web content indexed by search engines. Everything you can find with Google search is part of the surface web. However, this part of the web is just the tip of the iceberg.
The deep web
The deep web is the next layer down. It contains material not indexed by search engines. This isn’t as mysterious as it may sound. You probably access the deep web every day. In fact, it makes up about 90% of the entire web. For instance, your Facebook posts are unindexed and won’t be found via a search engine. Your email inbox, online banking and Google Drive folders are undiscoverable via a earch engines. These are live on the deep web.
The dark web
Within the deep web is another part of the internet called the dark web. Dark web sites are so well-hidden they can’t be accessed with normal browsers such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. The dark web can only be accessed using a special browser called Tor as l have indicated.
The dark web lives on the Tor ecosystem and can only be accessed through the Tor browser.
So, what is Tor? Tor stands for ‘the onion router’. It’s free, open-source software using a global network of servers to help you stay anonymous online.
So, the big question is how does Tor work?
When you connect to the internet using Tor, your data goes through multiple phases of encryption before it’s directed through a random series of servers called nodes. Each node decrypts your data one layer at a time so it can be interpreted, then send you to your intended dark web destination. It’s from this process of peeling off the individual layers of encryption, like the layers of an onion, where the onion router gets its name.
This type of multi-layer encryption means each node or server in the chain, knows which server your data came from and which server to send it too next. This makes it almost impossible to track your dark web activity from beginning to end. Not only does Tor’s encryption system keep your activity anonymous, but it keeps host websites hidden as well.
You can see why this ecosystem would be so attractive to those involved in criminal activity. However, it’s important to remember there are tons of legitimate reasons to use Tor to explore the dark web and get some positive results from it. Many folks use the dark web to dispense information and advise that someone may not prescribe in a doctor’s office. Information, therapies, political positions and information is sent out through the dark web and you would be pleasantly surprised on the amount of people who read and follow these recommendations and advice.
These sites are also known to get you things that you normally would not think of being able to access…here is a small sampling of what you can get on the dark side.
- Credit Cards
- Fake Passports
- Drugs/ prescription and non
- Bitcoin Lottery Tickets
- Fake College Degrees
- A Hitman
- Social Security Numbers
- Illicit Substances
- Government Data
But the one thing that I couldn’t believe was available… body parts… you literally can buy any body part you may need on these sites. Scary… but true.
In conclusion, when using or trying to access any of these dark sites, you should keep these recommendations in mind. Stay vigilant and follow these tips to stay safe on the dark web.
Navigate to the correct URL and be smart about where you visit because you can easily stumble into some dark content by mistake. Be careful what you share… the dark web is unregulated and a popular environment for illegal activity. Don’t download any files, similar to the surface web, the dark web can contain malware. Don’t download anything you’re not 100% certain is legitimate. You should not make any purchases as some dark web shops may be legitimate, but making a purchase is not worth the risk. And finally, keep your programs up to date, systems and software are designed to keep you safe.
There are many good and legitimate reasons to step into the deep web, but you should always do so with caution.