What is the Dark Web?

The dark web is the hidden collective of internet sites only accessible by a specialized web browser. It is used for keeping internet activity anonymous and private, which can be helpful in both legal and illegal applications. While some use it to evade government censorship, it has also been known to be utilized for highly illegal activity.

How to access the dark web

The dark web was once the province of hackers, law enforcement officers, and cybercriminals. However, new technology like encryption and the anonymization browser software, Tor, now makes it possible for anyone to dive dark if they’re interested.

Tor (“The Onion Routing” project) network browser provides users access to visit websites with the “. onion” registry operator. This browser is a service originally developed in the latter part of the 1990s by the United States Naval Research Laboratory.

Understanding that the nature of the internet meant a lack of privacy, an early version of Tor was created to hide spy communications. Eventually, the framework was repurposed and has since been made public in the form of the browser we know today. Anyone can download it free of charge.

Think of Tor as a web browser like Google Chrome or Firefox. Notably, instead of taking the most direct route between your computer and the deep parts of the web, the Tor browser uses a random path of encrypted servers known as “nodes.” This allows users to connect to the deep web without fear of their actions being tracked or their browser history being exposed.

Sites on the deep web also use Tor (or similar software such as I2P, the “Invisible Internet Project”) to remain anonymous, meaning you won’t be able to find out who’s running them or where they’re being hosted.

Is it illegal to go on the dark web?

Simply put, no it is not illegal to access the dark web. In fact, some uses are perfectly legal and support the value of the “dark web.” On the dark web, users can seek out three clear benefits from its use:

User anonymity
Virtually untraceable services and sites
Ability to take illegal actions for both users and providers

As such, the dark web has attracted many parties who would otherwise be endangered by revealing their identities online. Abuse and persecution victims, whistleblowers, and political dissidents have been frequent users of these hidden sites. But of course, these benefits can be easily extended to those that want to act outside of the constraints of laws in other explicitly illegal ways.

When viewed through this lens, the dark web’s legality is based on how you as a user engage with it. You might fall to the wayside of legal lines for many reasons that are important for the protection of freedom. Others may act in ways that are illegal for the protection and safety of others. Let’s unpack both of these concepts in terms of the “dark web browser” and the websites themselves.

Read more: How much data of PM House has been put on dark web?

How to access the dark web safely

If you have a legitimate or viable need to access the dark web, you’ll want to make sure you stay safe if you decide to use it.

Seven tips for safe access to the dark web

  1. Trust your intuition. To avoid being scammed, you’ll want to protect yourself with smart behavior on the web. Not everyone is who they seem. Staying safe requires that you watch who you talk to and where you visit. You should always take action to remove yourself from a situation if something doesn’t feel right.
  2. Detach your online persona from real life. Your username, email address, “real name,” password, and even your credit card should never be used anywhere else in your life. Create brand-new throwaway accounts and identifiers for yourself if necessary. Acquire prepaid, unidentifiable debit cards before making any purchases. Do not use anything that could be used to identify you — whether online or in real life.
  3. Employ active monitoring of identify and financial theft. Many online security services now offer identity protection for your safety. Be sure to take advantage of these tools if they are made available to you.
  4. Explicitly avoid dark web file downloads. Fear of malware infection is significantly higher in the lawless territory that is the dark web. Real-time file scanning from an antivirus program can help you check any incoming files in case you do opt to download.
  5. Disable ActiveX and Java in any available network settings. These frameworks are notorious for being probed and exploited by malicious parties. Since you are traveling through a network filled with said threats, you’ll want to avoid this risk.
  6. Use a secondary non-admin local user account for all daily activities. The native account on most computers will have full administrative permissions by default. Most malware must take advantage of this to execute its functions. As such, you can slow or halt the progress of exploitation by limiting the account in-use to strict privileges.
  7. Always restrict access to your Tor-enableddevice. Protect your children or other family members so they aren’t at risk of stumbling across something no one should ever see. Visit the Deep Web if you’re interested, but don’t let kids anywhere near it.
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