Where would we be without the internet? As one of the greatest inventions in history, the internet has brought so much convenience and ease to our daily lives. Whether you want to find a movie or TV show to watch, get some groceries delivered straight to your door, or see your friends and family on the other side of the planet — the internet has the solution for you. However, as great as the internet has been for everyone around the world, there is a dark side underneath the surface web that you should know about.
The dark web is a section of the internet that is hidden away from the public. You might be wondering how to get access to the dark web, and believe it or not, it’s incredibly easy. The dark web might seem like this far-away land that is out of reach for normal people like you and me, but the reality is that you just need a unique browser to take a peek into the dark side of the internet.
Before we get started on how to access the dark web, it must be said that it’s not some dark underground market that most people make it out to be. There are dangerous websites on the dark web, but there are other websites that are perfectly safe for anyone to access. Want to know about this mysterious side of the internet? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the dark web, and how you can access it within minutes.
What is the Dark Web?
Let’s start with the dark web and how it came about. After all, you’ll want to understand what you’re getting yourself into before you head over to the dark web right? There’s an interesting backstory behind how the dark web came about.
The United States Naval Research Laboratory designed and created a special program in the 1990s. The program was designed to allow spies to communicate securely and privately over the internet, without any of their messages being intercepted. Eventually, the program was disbanded and repurposed into a special browser known as Tor (The Onion Router). Tor is a private browser that allows you to access the dark web, which is a collection of websites that have been hidden from the public — which is referred to as the surface web.
The Tor browser is the only way that you can access the dark web. It’s not difficult to get your hands on either. Anyone can download the browser free of charge and on any device. Tor is even available on the Apple Store, which is notoriously strict on which apps they allow on its marketplace — this is the first indicator that there is nothing inherently wrong with accessing the dark web.
There are three main benefits to using the dark web as opposed to the surface web:
- The anonymity of the user
- Services and websites that are untraceable
- Both users and providers are capable of taking illegal actions
These benefits will naturally attract individuals who have malicious and illegal intentions, such as cybercriminals or terrorist organizations for example. However, not everyone on the dark web has ill intentions — the dark web is also advantageous to whistleblowers, censored journalists, abuse and persecution victims, and political dissidents.
Is the Tor Browser Safe?
So, is the dark web safe enough for the average person to access? Tor browser offers user anonymity by routing your internet traffic through a random path of servers known as nodes. This allows you to keep your browsing history and internet activity hidden from prying eyes — whether that’s cyber criminals or the government.
The dark web also uses additional encryption technology known as I2P (invisible internet project). This software helps to keep website owners protected too, and prevents anyone from seeing who owns any specific website on the dark web. That means everyone’s identity on the dark web is kept anonymous.
The dark web has a reputation for being a hub of criminal activity with sketchy dealings, dangerous hackers, and scary websites. While this is partly true, there are other people on the dark web and websites that aren’t necessarily dangerous. Believe it or not, there are even legal parties and government agencies that use the dark web!
If you’re accessing the dark web, there are three main risks to look out for:
- Malicious software – malware is prevalent on the dark web, just as it is on the surface web. Your device could contract malware like viruses, ransomware, and spyware if you’re not careful. Always be wary of sketchy links and potentially dangerous websites.
- Government monitoring – despite the anonymous browsing that the Tor browser offers, you still need to be careful about which websites you visit. Some government agencies have taken over specific websites on the dark web to lure in and capture dangerous individuals. If you stumble across one of these sites, you could become a government target just for visiting the website.
- Scams – we all know that scams are everywhere, even on the surface web. However, if you fall for a scam on the dark web, it’s much more difficult (if not impossible) to track down a scammer on the dark web. If you’re buying a product or service on the dark web, this is something you need to be aware of!
How to Ensure Safety on the Dark Web
If you’re planning on downloading the Tor browser to experience the dark web for yourself, there are a few important precautions you need to take.
The first precaution is to install a premium VPN on your device. This will encrypt your internet connection to give you an extra layer of privacy and security. In addition, you should make sure to change your device’s location so that no one can trace your home address.
You’re also going to need premium antivirus software. As mentioned earlier, malware is prevalent on the dark web, and you want to avoid it at all costs. Antivirus software will constantly scan your device for any malware and allow you to remove harmful software from your device.
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