Dark Web started in the 1960s as an anonymous communication network and has shown immense growth since then. Presently, it covers 6% of the total World Wide Web, which is 2% more than what the standard internet or the surface web occupies.
However, most internet users don't even know of its existence. This post is for all these users. It will shed light on this side of the internet and also provide you the information like browsers, legal laws, security measures, and risk related to the dark web.
What Is The Dark Web?
According to its use types, the internet that you use has three different layers. The first part is the surface web or the standard internet. It covers 4% of the internet and is the part that you are using most of the time. Even right now, you are using it to read this post.
The second layer is the deep web, which consists of the underlying data related to the surface web. It covers 90% of the world wide web and includes data like medical records, databases, financial records, and academic information.
The remaining part goes to a fully encrypted part of the internet known as the dark web. From the core, it is very similar to your standard internet. It has websites, social media sites, communications channels, eCommerce, and all the other services. The only difference here is that in this part of the internet, you don't have to reveal your identity for any transactions. The channel uses a secure channel that hides your data and doesn't need any proof of your identity.
How Do I Access The Dark Web?
The Dark web is a highly secured one, and out of coverage for most of the browsers and search engines. You will have to modify your browsers with software or extension and use a dark web complaint search engine for it. A much simpler option will be to use the TOR browser for this task. You will also need a masking application or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide your work from the internet service provider.
Here's how you can download and install both these programs.
- Open TOR's official site Torproject.com and navigate to the downloads section and download the TOQ setup for your OS.
- Now, navigate to your downloaded location and install the application.
- After installation is complete, open the program and click on the connect button.
- TOR will apply the configuration and establish a connection with your network for accessing the dark web.
- The browser will take some time to connect for the first use, but the waiting will reduce later on.
- Once the connecting part is over, you will see a Google-like user interface that you can use to surf the dark web.
The next thing you need is a good VPN. There are several of those on the internet that you can choose. However, you have to make sure that you use a high-quality VPN downloaded from an authorized site. It's essential as low quality or non-genuine VPN will not mask your work from your service provider and also open you to malware.
The process of using VPNs applications can be different depending upon its brand, but the core process will be the same. Here's how you can install and use the VPN.
- Select a VPN you want to use and head to its official website download section. Then select your preferred OS from the list.
- Search for the download button to download the setup of your VPN.
- Head to the download location and install the VPN program like any other application on your OS.
- After the installing is over, click on its icon to open it. For the first use, the application will ask you for some permission and configuration.
- After configuring the application, click on the connect button, and the VPN will start to hide your address and usage data from your ISP.
It is also a good idea to use a disposable OS or a virtual machine application while accessing the dark web. It is not that crucial to maintain privacy, but it can help you to contain the damage if something goes wrong. For instance, if you open a website or link with malware, it will stay inside the virtual machine and prevent your data.
Once you have installed these elements, you can start accessing the dark web securely. There are two ways to do it, the first is the TOR over VPN, and the other is VPN over TOR methods. The procedure for both methods is the same, except for the order of connection.
In the first method or the TOR over VPN, you will connect the VPN before the TOR browser, and in the other, it's the opposite order. However, it is best to stick with the first method. It's because when you connect TOR before VPN, there is a risk that your ISP will find out about your activities.
Does Dark Web Have Websites?
Dark web follows a different encryption and security rules, but its core functionality is very close to the surface web. It will have a search engine and several websites that you can access according to your requirement.
The only difference here is that there is no index of the websites. It means dark web's search engine, Grams, will not assist you in finding stuff. You will have to have proper knowledge of the data that you need to search for accessing the pages. There is also an uncensored Wiki called the "Hidden Wiki" to help with this part, but it contains data about both legal and illegal websites. It has high load time and often returns with an error.
Is It Illegal To Surf The Dark web?
The term dark web has a "dark" in its name, so most people believe that this part has to be illegal, but it's not. The part may not be in the search engine indexes, but it's still a part of the internet and a rather informative one. Therefore, most of the countries and the government doesn't restrict its use.
However, you can get in trouble for accessing the dark web if you use it for a restricted activity. You have to make sure that you stay away from a dark site that sells guns, drugs, child pornography, and anti-national materials. In fact, according to an infographic by coolinforgraphics.com, people used the eCommerce Silk Route 2.0 on the dark web to sell drugs of $27.0 million between the years 2013 and 2015. The sellers also sold prescription drugs of $4.6 million and stuff like fake brands, credit card data, and counterfeit money of $0.8 million on the dark web.
The encryption makes it secure for such illegal activities. A lot of terrorist groups have used this part of the internet for planning attacks and blasts. This section is also a home of trojans and malware that can harm you in more than one way. Many times, hackers have used dark websites to send malware to computers and then use them for their illegal activities. Hence, take special care of what you are downloading over the dark web.
Where Is The Dark Web Content Hosted?
The most probable question that struck every brain after knowing so much about the dark web is about its server. Like where are the servers that operate it, and who takes care of them? Moreover, if the section is so dangerous, why not shut it?
Honestly, no one exactly knows the location of all the servers holding dark web data. Its keepers and users mostly stay anonymous. The only thing that's for sure is that the server is increasing, and so is the data on it. There's a high possibility that you will find the server all around the globe, which is also a little reason why no one shuts it.
Another reason for its existence is the benefits that it offers for law enforcement. They have used it to extract information regarding illegal activities and prevent them. The intelligence services also use it for secure communication. A lot of large-scale companies also use the dark web to ensure their market without being noticed by the competitors.
The Final Words
The part of the world web that is anonymous and not indexed by search engines like Google and Bing comes under the dark web. Its section doesn't follow any secure protocol of the browser and offers full flexibility for your activities. You can use it for communication, information extraction, and a lot more. Sure, it has some risk, but it is not totally a crime site. You can, and you must prefer to learn and use this part of the internet. It can help you enjoy all that the internet offers and more without privacy issues.