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Dark Web: What is It and How to Access It?

Dark Web: What is It and How to Access It?
May 26, 2022
The websites you are visiting every day are only a small fraction of the entire internet. Beyond this, there is the deep web and within the deep web is the dark web.
Buse Eker
Internet Freedom
Dark Web: What is It and How to Access It? - FastVPN
The websites you are visiting every day are only a small fraction of the entire internet. Beyond this, there is the deep web and within the deep web is the dark web.
Want to know what is the dark web and how you can access it? Keep reading this article to know about the dark web in detail.

What is the Dark Web?

Google just indexes a small fraction of the internet. But the web contains 500 times more content than what you see in the search results. These search results to what you are typing in the query are called the surface web, while the non-searchable content is called the deep web or invisible web.
The dark web comprises a small part of the deep web. It is made up of purposefully hidden services and websites. The users, as well as the owners of the dark web, are anonymous. So, to access the data and website on the dark web, you need a special tool.
The kind of websites commonly associated with the dark web are marketplaces where illegal and illicit goods, such as firearms, narcotics, etc are bought and sold. Its darkest corners are used for hiring hitmen, exchanging child pornography, and engaging in human trafficking.
Apart from this, the dark web contains data and content that you can access with complete anonymity. It can be a forum, blog, private gaming server, and chat room.
What makes the dark web so popular is its anonymity. No one will know as long as they take the required precautions. So, you are safe from the prying eyes of corporations and governments.

What is Hidden in the Dark Web?

In case you have ever heard about cybercrime, you might know that cybercriminals these days look for more than just money. They take everything of value, such as personal details, credit card information, etc. All these are commodities over the dark web to be purchased and sold.
Apart from that, there are also illegal businesses that otherwise cannot be conducted on the surface web. You can almost buy anything you want over the dark web as long as you are ready to pay.
Another undesirable thing that you will find over the dark web is different types of pornography.

How to Access the Dark Web with Tor Browser?

Getting to the dark web is easier than you know. You just have to download Tor browser, the dark web browser.
As soon as you install the dark web browser on the device, it will start functioning as a regular browser, type in the URL, and start browsing.
But finding what you are looking for over the dark web is more difficult than using the regular engine. This is because it doesn’t come with a ranking or indexing system to help you find what you are looking for.

How Can You Access the Dark Web Safely?

Your connection with Tor will pass through three publicly hosted nodes selected randomly before finding the intended website. But many users prefer opting for additional measures for going the extra mile when it comes to safety and privacy. Some people use advanced browsers for privacy.
There are several options for an added privacy-minded operating system, such as Tails, burner laptops, etc.
Now, let’s take a look at what you should do to access the dark web securely.
1.     Know Your Aim
It does not take much knowledge in IT to understand that the Deep web is a dangerous place, particularly if you know what you are doing.
If you know what you are doing so that you do not end up being the victim of cybercriminals with all your personal details exposed.
2.     Look for a Reliable VPN Provider
Prior to delving deep into the dark web, you need to establish a barrier between you and your activities. You can use the best VPN for that purpose. It will encrypt your data and protect your identity. There are several VPN providers out there. So, you have to select the one that you think is most trustworthy.
With the VPN, you will be able to hide your real IP address. Hence, no one will know who you really are.
3.     Create an Account
You can choose between free or paid VPN providers. Usually, free VPNs are not the best contenders. Some can even sell off your data. Thus, it is better to choose a premium VPN provider to get the best experience.
4.     Set Up the VPN
You have to follow the instructions of the provider for setting up the VPN on the device from where you will be accessing the dark web. It means you have to install software and enable features, such as the kill switch which will help in protecting your privacy and safety. Check the VPN by going over to some websites and finding out if it displays the IP address of the VPN.
5.     Take All Required Safety Precautions
Just activating the VPN is not sufficient to safely browse the dark web. You need to consider all the apps that are running on your system.
For instance, you need to close all apps that you have opened. It includes the password manager, storage apps, and streaming applications. You can also close everything, which is not for browsing the Deep web.
Make sure that you cover the webcam and turn off the location on the device.
6.     Choose an Available Overlay Networks
Once the VPN is up and running, start to look at the overlay networks. The configurations and clients might differ. But you can use them interchangeably. Tor is the most popular one and is the easiest one to pick up.
7.     Set Up the Overlay Network Client
As soon as you have installed Tor, you need to upgrade the default settings. Make sure that you are setting the security slider in Tor to high. It will completely disable the javascript as it is a vulnerability through which an infected code can be injected.
Disable referrers as they tell the websites you are coming from and provide data, which can be used for narrowing down who the prospective user is. Surely, you want to keep this information a secret.
Disable iframes as they can be used for inserting links within links. Hence, they can be used for displaying content that you would not like to see and lead you to malware.
8.     Look for IP Leaks
After everything has been set up, there is something that has to be done and that is to check if you have any leaks, which can reveal your personal identity.
So, you need to check for DNS, IP, and WebRTC leaks.
9.     Look for a Website and Connect
Instead of depending on the search engines, you will have to visit the dark net site wikis and aggregators to look for the links to the actual sites. In case you want to find out how it works, check out the darkest versions of a legal website.

How to Access the Dark Web on iPhone or Android?

For accessing the dark web on iPhone or Android, this is what you have to do-
1.     iPhone
If you want to access the dark web on your iPhone, remember there is no official Tor application for it. Hence, you might have to use the unofficial version.
a.     Look for a good VPN for iOS.
b.     Download a secure browser for the device and connect to the VPN server.
c.      Open the browser and search for the website.
2.     Android
You can also access the dark web from your Android phone. Here are the steps you have to take.
a.     Install a good VPN on your Android device.
b.     Download the Tor application for Android.
c.      Connect to the VPN server.
d.     Open Tor, search for the website and keep browsing.

What are the Lurking Dangers of the Dark Web?

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A lack of oversight of the deep or dark web means you will be vulnerable to cyber threats.  Usually, the risks can be avoided if you are aware of them and can protect yourself. One thing is to use a firewall for your safety.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common dangers of the dark web.
1.     Malware
As you browse the dark web, you are at the risk of cyberattacks, such as botnets, DDoS attacks, and other malware. If you just enter the wrong URL or download a malicious file accidentally, you might end up installing malware or viruses. It can have a dangerous impact on your device. In fact, it can also end up revealing your real identity.
To avoid these, make sure that you browse the dark web with a clear goal in mind. Keep a list of sites that you can trust.
2.     Scam Sites
Hackers over the dark web will easily be able to access your personal data by using phishing, trojans, and other kinds of scam programs and websites. At times, it just takes a simple misclick before the details all stored on the computer get unveiled. Cybercriminals can also activate computer microphones and cameras to get a live stream of what you are doing without you suspecting victims.
A majority of the dark web websites come with unrecognizable names. Hence, people might fall for these traps very easily, putting your financial, private, and other details at risk. To protect yourself, use a VPN. This way your real identity will not be revealed.
3.     Dangerous Activities
The dark web is the den of all types of criminal activities. From fake documents to drug dealing, everything takes place over the dark web. In fact, it is a network including assassins for hire, live streaming of murders, and child pornography. In case you end up on the pages, you might face legal charges if someone finds out.
To avoid getting into any legal trouble, you should research the sites before entering them. Using a VPN will also help in browsing the internet with complete anonymity.
4.     Surveillance
Many criminal organizations are operating on the dark web and the authorities are setting up websites for tracking criminal activities. When they do this, they get access to anyone visiting the sites. It includes you, too, if you end up there, accidentally. In some regions, Tor can get you flagged by such agencies, even when you do not take part in any illegal activity.
However, you have to keep in mind that Tor has been created by the US government. Hence, you might be under the surveillance of the government. The ideal way to prevent your browsing activity from alarming the authorities is to avoid websites that are involved in illegal activities.

Final Thoughts

The guide to accessing the dark web will help in keeping you safe. All precautions you take will depend on what you plan to do on the dark web. The risk assessment is known as the threat model. In case you simply want to access forum discussions on the dark web, make sure you are careful as you click on the links and use the security measures offered by Tor browsers. But, if you are looking for some sensitive information, you have to take some extreme precautions.
No matter what you plan, the dark web is always going to be a tricky place. So, it might take you a lot of effort to access it and once you land on the dark web, you might not be able to access a lot of sites. Before you visit the dark web, make sure that you read enough about it. If you are not sure what to access on the dark web, it is always better to stick to the surface web.
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