From the millions of results displayed by your search engine, it is easy to conclude that the internet has it all, right? What if I told you that this is only a tip of the surface web and that there is much more that lies in the underbelly in what is known as the deep web?
Part of what makes the deep web is the dark web. This post looks at the dark web into detail: what it is, the benefits, dangers and the safety considerations to put in place while accessing it.
What is the dark web?
As is the case with ‘dark’, this is a mysterious part of the web. The dark web is invisible to regular search engines such as Google Chrome and Firefox. To access the dark web, you need a specialized browser known as Tor (the onion router).
The dark web is home to many sites that are invisible on the regular web. Unlike the surface web, users of the dark web use masked IP addresses. This allows them to express their views anonymously. Sites on the dark web also change their URLs frequently to maintain their privacy.
Is surfing the dark web dangerous?
In terms of legality, it is entirely legal to access and browse the dark web. That said, you need to be aware that the site is also associated with illegal activities.
Secondly, as much as the dark web highly banks on user anonymity, there are cyber risks associated with it.
Let’s look at the security concerns of the dark web, then ways in which you can increase your protection against malware while on the dark web.
Dangers of the dark web
1. Malware attacks
As is the case with the surface web, malicious software is alive on the dark web. There are portals set up to offer malicious software to cybercriminals.
Website owners on the dark web do not put in place sufficient visitor protection features. Therefore, it is very easy to become a victim of malicious attacks such as keyloggers, ransomware, phishing and botnet malware.
2. Identity theft
Some criminals on the dark web may target and attempt a phishing attack on you in a bid to steal your identity.
Stealing user identities is a lucrative business on the dark web. There are sites set up to deliver stolen identities, such as credit card information.
Criminals leverage the dark web’s reputation to con unsuspecting user’s large sums of money. The most common scammers advertise for services they cannot offer.
The dark web ‘professional hitman’ sites are notorious for this scam, where they ask for sums of money before taking prospective clients through some back and forth.
4. Illegal services
Due to the anonymity feature, black markets come fully alive on the dark web. Here, you will find all sorts of illegal and disturbing services. There’s everything from illicit drugs, paid assassinators, weapons, sex trafficking, name it.
1. Protect your devices with anti-malware
Start by installing an up-to-date anti-malware on your device. This is a reliable way of preventing any malicious software from being installed on your device.
2. Install a VPN
Because Tor is an anonymous browser, your ISP cannot see the sites you visit, but they will see that you accessed Tor. To completely mask your connections from your ISP and other kinds of surveillance, stay private using a VPN.
3. Download Tor browser
After masking your connections with a VPN, it’s now safe to visit the official Tor website and download the browser. Always ensure that you are running an up-to-date version of the browser by enabling automatic updates.
4. Beware of the sites you visit
With the proper security tools in place, the .onion sites on the dark web should be safe to browse. But you can land on an illegal site by mistake.
Be careful about the URLs you want to navigate. If you are a beginner, you can do a simple search of the ‘best .onion sites’ to have an insight into some of the recommended sites to visit.
5. Protect your identity
To protect your identity, be careful about the information you share on the dark web. Because it is unregulated, the dark web is home to sites that are popular for illegal activities.
Restrict your browsing only to .onion sites and refrain from initiating any downloads unless you are 100% certain that they are legit and free from malware.
There are many reasons why you might want to surf the underbelly of the web, but remember to always do so with caution.
Read Also: Is The Dark Web Real Or Is It A Conspiracy?