Since its inception, the internet has been blowing our minds with its power and convenience. Over the years, the internet has become integral to modern life. Want to check your bank account, scan the latest headlines, or catch up with your friends and family? Just go online. Thanks to the internet, convenience is now at our fingertips.
But did you know there is a part of the internet that is inaccessible to ordinary web surfers? This is known as the dark web. It refers to a list of hidden websites that can only be accessed via specialised web browsers such as Tor browser, and cannot be searched on most search engines such as Google, which is how it remains unknown to ordinary internet users.
Privacy and Anonymity
The dark web was originally developed by military researchers to ensure safe communication with intelligence operatives. This goal was never fully realized, but some of the researchers working on the original clandestine project decided to turn it into a non-profit focusing on privacy and anonymity for human rights activists. Who benefits from the dark web?
Many people benefit from the dark web’s capability to support anonymous use and communication. These include residents of oppressive political regimes, political dissidents and anti-censorship advocacy groups, as well as journalists and whistle-blowers. Anonymity is of utmost importance to all these figures.
Dangers on The Dark Web
The dark web is an attractive medium for those who want to keep their online activities anonymous. For instance, the dark web is the lifeline that provides access to information and protection from persecution for people living under oppressive regimes. But since there are no regulations or protections on the dark corners of the internet, the dark web can be a dangerous place.
Malware authors often leverage the anonymity of the dark web to offer a wide range of cyberattack tools for sale. Threats such as exploits, botnets, remote access trojans, RaaS platforms, keyloggers, and phishing kits are common. Cybercriminals aren’t only peddling attack tools on the dark web, the dark web is full of similar threats ready to infect unsuspecting users. Seeing as the rules that website providers use to protect web surfers on the open internet don’t apply on the dark web, users face a higher risk of infection.
Fraud is rampant on the dark web. There are numerous dark web sites offering illegal services such as hitman services, arms trafficking, and sex trafficking. However, most of the alleged services are just scams meant to trick users out of large sums of money. Of course, there are some real threats on the dark corners of the internet so keep that in mind when browsing the dark web. Phishing scams are also common on the dark web. Cybercriminals may attempt to steal personal information or your identity for extortion.
The dark web allows users to remain anonymous through encryption. The high level of privacy and anonymity on the dark web attracts nefarious individuals seeking to engage in illicit activities that pose a larger danger to society. There are numerous illegal activities taking place on the dark web at any given time. These include sex trafficking, counterfeit goods, weapons trafficking, child pornography, and child pornography.
Ways to Increase Protection
Considering the threats outlined above, you should think twice before visiting the dark web as an ordinary user. However, you may not have a choice especially if you are doing something that requires a great deal of privacy and anonymity. If you have to venture into the dark corners of the internet, you better make sure that you are protected. Here are a few tips to browse the dark web safely.
Ensure that you are armed with the necessary security tools when visiting the dark web. For starters, make sure that you have antimalware and antivirus protections to keep hackers and other online threat actors from stealing your data or infiltrating your system. All types of personal data can be circulated on the dark web for profit and eventually used for identity theft.
For obvious reasons, many dark web sites are overrun with law enforcement. As a result, simply visiting the dark web can draw unwanted attention. Law enforcement officials can use custom software to analyse and discover user identities on the dark web. While the Tor browser allows you to navigate the dark web, it doesn’t guarantee privacy. We recommend using a VPN for security and additional privacy — a VPN masks your IP address and location — when visiting the dark web.
Stick with the Tor Browser
There are several specialised tools that allow you to visit the dark web. Always opt for the popular browser and make sure that it’s up to date before you hop into the dark web. That being said, using the Tor browser is the easiest and safest way (a combination of the Tor browser and VPN improves privacy and anonymity) to access the dark web. Make sure that your Tor browser is up to date.
Protect Your Real Identity
It goes without saying that protecting your identity on the dark web is crucial. Protecting your identity starts with protecting your personal information such as driver’s license, passport, and social security numbers as well as account information. Make sure that apps that are not essential to your visit to the dark web are disabled to reduce the risk of infiltration. You can also turn off webcam and microphone functions to prevent someone from watching you or listening in.
The dark web refers to hidden sites on the internet that can only be accessed with a specialised web browser such as Tor. The dark web can be useful for activities that require greater privacy than that which is afforded by the open web. But the dark web is not safe. Between malware, phishing, and a range of scams, the dark web can also be a dangerous place. Take the necessary precautions when visiting the dark web.