Tips on How to Safely Navigate the Dark Web
You will learn what the dark web is and how to safely access and navigate the dark web
- What is the Deep Web?
- What is the Dark Web?
- Dangers of using the dark web
- How to protect yourself while on the dark web
When the deep web is mentioned, most people cringe and have very negative thoughts about it. Accessing and navigating the dark web is easier than most people think, and chances are, you might have already accessed it, albeit unknowingly. There is confusion about the deep web and the dark web, with both meaning different things.
What is the Deep Web?
Most search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing search and index websites using links. The links rank the engine results according to different things such as relevancy, keywords, or inbound links. The normal browsers are called the surface or clear web, and it stops there.
If you want to search a library catalog and type the title into your browser, Google cannot give you a conclusive result, and you can only get this kind of information on the deep web. This is because the search engine operates using links. The deep web contains data that is practically invisible to normal search engines but is safe to use.
Most of what is contained in the deep web is information such as your social media, email account, bank account contents, etc. Now that we know what the deep web is, let us explore the dark web.
What is the Dark Web?
The dark web has an ominous ring to it, and with good reason. The dark web is full of black markets laden with everything illegal, from human and drug traffickers to black hat hackers and stolen credit card details, but also contains legal information as well such as book sales, a site where people can express their views without fear, or a site full of riddles.
The average browser cannot access a dark website, which masks its IP address. The dark web sites can only be accessed via the use of tools such as The Onion Router TOR. The Onion is undetectable and offers users anonymity while on the web by encrypting your IP address via a secure network.
When you access the dark web, you are not browsing through the normal interconnected servers you normally access. On the Tor network, everything stays within the network, providing privacy and security for all. A fact worth noting is that the dark web site addresses do not end with .com. .gov or .org like the clear web, but ends with. onion.
Dangers of using the dark web
Malware or malicious software is rampant in the dark web and is available on some portals, which gives malicious actors the tools they need for a cyberattack. You can also find it thriving on the dark web, ready to infect naïve users, just like it does on the clear web.
You can find yourself exposed to different malware such as:
- Keyloggers that record all your activities on the web and all your keystrokes
- Botnet malware is responsible for attacks such as Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.
- Ransomware, which encrypts all your data and you have to pay the hackers some money for a decryption key
- Phishing malware, which infects your computer when you click infected links on emails or download attachments. The malware prompts you to provide login details, which hackers mine and use to hack into your accounts
2. Identity Theft
Your details might be easily stolen on the dark web by highly skilled hackers and used to commit fraud or other illegal activities. The hackers might use your identity to hack into your bank or social media accounts and make financial transactions.
Some services offered on the dark web might be scams aimed at defrauding people. The dark web offers thousands of illegal services, from paid hitmen to weapons, sex, and drug trafficking. Once you fall for the scam, the scammers will take your hard-earned money and vanish into thin air-after all, this is the dark web!
4. Illegal services
As mentioned, the dark web is a haven for illegal activities such as hired assassins, drug, and sex trafficking. The government often tracks some of these sites and you may get into trouble if you try dabbling in these sites by trying to buy a weapon, drugs, or dabble in child pornography.
How to protect yourself while on the dark web
You can access the dark web and still stay safe by taking some of these measures:
Use security tools
Utilizing security tools is one of the ways you can keep safe on the dark web. Using a VPN for security will go a long way in ensuring your security. A Virtual Private Network is a master at encryption and masking IP addresses. The TOR encryption might be strong, but by no means impenetrable. Using a VPN strengthens and adds a security layer that prevents anyone from hacking into your browser.
Update Tor software
In 2016, the FBI created a malware called Torsploit that was intended to track Tor users’ actual IP addresses. Tor often addresses vulnerabilities and threats very fast, which makes it essential that you keep your Tor browser updated all the time. Every time you launch the Tor browser, ensure you check for any updates before you use the browser, and switch the browser’s security level to ‘High.’
Watch the sites you visit
We have already established the dark web is too much of a dangerous place to just visit sites carelessly. Be careful on the sites you visit, otherwise, you might land yourself into legal trouble. The dark web is unlike the deep web. The dark web is full of questionable characters, and since the Tor servers keep all users anonymous, the dark web has no control over the products or services therein. Do your research and make sure you only explore secure sites on the dark web.
Protect your identity
To prevent identity theft, you need to keep your online and real-life persona separate. You should never use your real name, email address, and credit card on the dark web. Create a new persona, new identifiers, and accounts. Get new unidentifiable and prepaid debit cards or use cryptocurrencies for online purchases. Never use any markers that could identify you, or tie your real identity with the online identity.
Being vigilant will save you a lot of grief from scammers. Use your intuitive feelers to weed out scammers by being aware of the type of sites you visit and who you talk to online. If a situation feels off, it is because it probably is. Extricate yourself from any situation that feels off before it is too late.
Avoid downloads on the dark web
The risk of malware infections is higher on the dark web. Avoid downloading any files, and if you do, perform real-time scans via high-end antivirus software to check for any malware.
The dark web is not called dark for no reason. It is full of dark dealings and illegal activities. However, this does not mean there are no meaningful sites on the dark web. To visit this web, take these measures for your security, and if you have no business on the dark web, you might as well stay away from it.