The internet is something that connects our entire world. From ordering food to your home at the click of a button to jumping on a video call with someone on the other side of the planet in a matter of seconds, the internet has brought some incredible advancements that have made our lives much easier and more convenient than ever before. However, there is a dark side to the internet that many people are not truly aware of.
Beneath the surface of the internet that we use daily, there is something known as the dark web. Contrary to popular belief, the dark web is not some magical dark underground that needs to be avoided at all times. Just like the surface web, there are dangerous sites and there are some sites that are perfectly fine for the average person to visit — you don’t need to be some cybercriminal visiting a black market looking to do something illegal.
The dark web has an interesting history that you may want to know about, and it will give you some context as to why it exists and how you can access it. If you’re planning on heading for the dark web, you need to make sure that you do so safely. Keep reading for a quick crash course on the dark web, and how you can access it safely.
What Is the Dark Web?
There’s an interesting story about the dark web and how it came about. In the 1990s, the United States Naval Research Laboratory created a special browser known as Tor (The Onion Router). The purpose behind creating this browser was to allow spies to safely and securely communicate without the risk of their messages being intercepted. This would ensure that they remain safe at all times, and they have a direct line of communication with whoever they need to carry a message across.
Eventually, the program was abandoned and the browser was released to the public, becoming the Tor browser that we know it as today. The Tor browser allows for anonymous communication, and it allows the user to access a collection of hidden websites, which is known as the dark web. The Tor browser can be downloaded on any device, even from the Apple Store which is known to have heavy restrictions. This shows that the Tor browser is entirely legal, and there’s nothing wrong with accessing the dark web. Tor can even be downloaded for free, making it widely available to anyone!
There are three main benefits that users get from using the Tor browser to access the dark web. The first is that they can browse anonymously, keeping your identity and location private. Secondly, the websites and services on the dark web are untraceable, and the third advantage of the dark web is that it allows users and service providers to take illegal actions. This will naturally attract internet users that have malicious or illegal intentions such as cybercriminals.
However, it’s not all bad on the dark web. There are other people around the world who need to use these advantages for different reasons. Consider whistleblowers, censored journalists, abuse and persecution victims, and political dissidents who need to keep their internet activity secure and anonymous. Some of their actions — such as a journalist reporting from a country where they have been censored — are illegal, but they’re not harmful or done with malicious intent.
Is the Dark Web Safe?
In the majority of cases, it is relatively safe to access the dark web. Just like with the surface web, some websites are extremely dangerous and risky to access, but others are completely safe.
The Tor browser allows users to browse the internet anonymously, which makes it much safer than usual. The browser uses a random path of “nodes” — nodes are encrypted servers. These servers prevent anyone from tracking your internet traffic or internet history.
In addition to a random circuit of nodes, the Tor browser also adds an extra layer of security through I2P (invisible internet project) software. This software allows websites and website owners to also remain anonymous. In other words, it’s impossible to find out who’s behind any website on the dark web.
What makes this feature scary is that there are plenty of cybercriminals and scammers on the dark web that have set up websites that allow them to take advantage of others. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that every website on the dark web is a dangerous hub of criminal activity.
Here’s a fact that will assure you that the dark web is safe and legal to access: there are many legal parties and government agencies that use the dark web every single day. This is because they are often dealing with sensitive information that can’t be leaked to the public, so they need to use a safe and secure method, which is the Tor browser.
However, if you’re aimlessly wandering around the dark web you need to keep an eye out for a couple of different things. Cybercriminals set up traps that will install malicious software such as viruses, spyware, and ransomware on your device. Government agencies set up websites to lure in users, which they use to monitor your online activity — some sites have been taken over by authorities, and you can become a target simply for visiting one of these sites. Finally, the dark web is filled with scammers, so always make sure to be aware of the risks you’re taking if you’re purchasing on the dark web.
How to Ensure You’re Safe on the Dark Web
If you’re planning on visiting the dark web, it’s a good idea to ensure that your device is safe and secure at all times. You should consider installing a premium VPN on your device to ensure private and anonymous browsing and spoofing your real IP address just in case. You also need to make sure that you have premium antivirus software installed on your device to counter any malware that your device may have picked up from the dark web.