The mysterious, incredibly interesting side of the Internet, often called the Dark Web, cannot but spark interest. Today we will try to look a little into this hidden world.
The average Internet user surfing the World Wide Web actually sees only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the traffic is dominated by the so-called Deep Web, which, in turn, contains the Dark Web. It is the darkest corner of the Internet, to which, however, almost anyone has access. Moreover, going there is not some kind of criminal act, no country in the world prohibits visiting these resources.
How is the Deep Web different from the Dark Web?
While surging the Internet, we see only a small fragment of it. Hiding from our eyes is the so-called Deep Web with huge amounts of encrypted, confidential data passing through it. For example, banking transactions, passwords on the Internet, or electronic transactions. There is nothing intimidating about the deep web. This is just a hidden part of the Internet, where, among other things, you can find materials such as scientific papers, medical documents, tax information, PayPal subscriptions, army communiqués, and more. Although the Deep Web is hidden behind HTTPS forms, this content can be accessed if you know what you are looking for and, most importantly, how to look for it.
The Dark Web is an even more hidden part of the deep web. This is undoubtedly the darkest corner of the global information network, into which the entrance is open to everyone, but it hides many secrets and unpleasant surprises. The Dark Web is used by thieves, crooks, drug and gun dealers, terrorists, and a host of other criminals who benefit from the anonymity. It is the anonymity and complete absence of rules that is its main attraction. While we mainly associate this phenomenon with criminal activity, it is worth noting that the Dark Web is also a place to bypass the censorship of the “normal” Internet in some countries, or a channel for secure communication and exchange of information between journalists and their informants. Almost anyone can access the dark web. But before you dare to cross the threshold of the dark room of the dark part of the Internet, think about whether you are ready for potential dangers and often unpleasant surprises. Sometimes the areola of mystery can be replaced by confusion and fear. If you’re ready, let’s continue.
Welcome to the Dark Web
If you think that getting to the dark side of the Internet is very difficult and for this you need some kind of code or a special type of invitation card, then you are deeply mistaken.
Logging into the Dark Web is very easy, although it requires a dedicated web browser. By far the most popular tool for this purpose is the Tor browser, which allows you to anonymously browse the pages of the regular Light Internet as well as access the dark web. Yes, it can be used as a regular browser too. Tor is unusual, but it is able to open the social networks we are used to. But still, its purpose is slightly different, as most users believe. Millions of people around the world use Tor, creating a distributed relay network that allows us to use Tor to avoid leaving traces on the pages we visit. In short, this is near-perfect access to the Dark Web.
If you haven’t changed your mind about traveling to the dark side of the Internet, you can download this browser:
Installing and configuring the Tor browser is pretty straightforward. Even users with an entry-level knowledge will be able to do everything. A couple of minutes and a new browser is already on your device.
If you want to hide your journey into the dark web, you should also use some additional tools. Among them, of course, is VPN – a technology that disguises the presence of your computer on any part of the Internet. Just remember to start the VPN first and then start using Tor. Also make sure scripts and plugins like Flash are disabled in your browser.
It’s also worth knowing that Tor Browser isn’t the only app that lets you access the Dark Web. You can also use the following programs:
By the way, I use FreeNet most often, although it has many drawbacks. In addition, the configuration is not as easy as the Tor browser. In any case, I believe that such applications are worth mentioning.
Where can I get the addresses of the Dark Web sites?
While getting to the dark web isn’t too difficult, navigating around will be more of a problem. First of all, pages on the dark web do not have a classic addresses like www.facebook.com. When using Tor, the address of individual pages is a random string of characters with .onion at the end, for example, http://secrdrop5wyphb5x.onion/. Second, the very idea of the Dark Web protecting our privacy and somehow hiding its content means that the URLs of the pages available here can be found mainly in various hand-edited directories and obtained from other people browsing the dark web. True, it is always necessary to be very careful with this method. Sometimes you can run into scammers, because on the Dark Web it’s a common thing.
The most famous directory of the dark side of the World Wide Web is The Hidden Wiki – Wikipedia’s “bad” little brother. It is a resource containing links to many more pages and directories that will take you even deeper into the dark corners of the web. Unfortunately, just because The Hidden Wiki is the most famous doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best source of links on the Dark Web. There you can find links to illegal and dangerous sites or sites that simply no longer work.
Particular attention should be paid to search engines operating on the Dark Web. For example, Tor Browser uses DuckDuckGo. Usually search engines will help you too, although don’t expect Google level of knowledge. Pages on the dark web are not indexed in the classic way, but if you want to use this method of searching on the dark web, try one of these portals:
Remember that these portals can only be opened on the Dark Web, as their addresses have been modified and have .onion at the end. No usual browser like Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Opera will open it.
It is also worth mentioning other interesting sites that should be added to favorites when browsing the Dark Web. They can help you navigate the dark side of the Internet more freely. I will write a few sites worth checking out. Please don’t forget that this is my personal choice. Perhaps you have your own similar list, which you will share in the comments. Here are the sites that I use:
- Daniel is a list of several thousand pages on the Dark Web, divided into categories. It has a built-in tool that shows if a site is active.
- ProPublica is a portal dedicated to topics related to investigative journalism, various insiders, and sometimes very useful information about politics, economics, technology, AI, etc.
- SecureDrop is a very interesting and decent tool for sharing files, as well as a list of pages. One significant drawback of this resource is that, although rare, file leaks sometimes occur. The Dark Web is full of dishonest people too.
At first, these resources are enough for you to join the mysterious world of the Dark Web. But still, if I were you, I would listen more to the advice of friends and acquaintances who already know this or that resource, so as not to fall into the clutches of scammers and criminals.
Dark Web: What to Look For?
The dark side of the World Wide Web is a place where you have to move very slowly and carefully, without making sudden movements or rash actions. It is akin to a dark alley. It is best to apply the “trust no one” rule here. This corner of the web resembles a real minefield filled with sites that feed on uninformed users.
No one should be surprised to find sites with illegal content (from child pornography to drugs and arms sales) or websites that want to entice us to download malware. There are also “shops” that engage in fraud. You will be offered goods at a very good price, they will ask you to pay for some part, and then disappear. And you will lose money. Trust me, there are scammers of the highest standard on the Dark Web. We’re not talking amateurs or Nigerian princes here.
Therefore, if you really want to delve deeper into this corner of the web, it is a good idea to use a separate computer for just that purpose. It is better if you do not have any confidential information that may fall into the wrong hands.
There are several important and, I would say, paramount rules to keep in mind when navigating the dark web:
- never pay with credit cards. For these purposes, it is best to use cryptocurrency; however, think before using a dark web store. The thing is that these stores lack any regulation or rules. In other words, there is no guarantee that the product you purchased will actually end up in your hands;
- although the dark web itself is not illegal and it is not a crime to be on it, most websites and the content available on them are already on the other side of the law. In other words, if you download illegal content from the Dark Web, it is unlawful. I’m not even talking about commercial use;
- The Dark Web is constantly monitored by security services from various countries. They are especially closely monitoring the flow of drug sales, weapons, child pornography, etc. In other words, it is possible that you will attract the special services if you are interested in something illegal.
It cannot be denied that the Dark Web is the fascinating, most mysterious and legendary corner of the Internet. But is it worth stopping by for the sake of curiosity? Probably worth researching it, sure, as you will see that the global Internet is very vast and diverse and realize that the World Wide Web is not limited to YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or Steam. Believe me, this is just the tip of the huge iceberg that is called the Internet. But above all, you must answer this question for yourself. And make the decision yourself. Most importantly, remember that the Dark Web is the most dangerous place on the Net. Whether it is worth entering it is up to you and you only.