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How to Get on the Dark Web Safely

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in SecurityAugust 03, 2021

Many people have heard of the dark web, but not everyone knows how to get to the dark web safely or use it for a legitimate purpose. Keep reading to learn how to get on the dark web and find things you cannot find anywhere else.

What is the Dark Web?

People often confuse the terms "deep web" and "dark web." They are different animals. The deep web refers to content stored online that you can get to pretty easily by simply logging in. It may include things like bank accounts, forums, and other gated areas of the internet that you can only access with a valid login account.

The dark web, however, is not accessible using a regular browser or logging in. To get on the dark web, you must download a unique browser (Tor) and have a known address to visit your chosen location. There is no master index and searching may yield confusing and inaccurate results. The Tor browser anonymizes your browsing experience for a private and secure visit. That is why so many criminal types use the dark web and are comfortable selling illegal wares there. In fact, almost 60% of the dark web is made up of illicit websites selling illegal goods.

What Can You Find on the Dark Web?

what can you find on the dark web

Although there is plenty of criminal activity on the dark web, there are also many legitimate resources. For example, you can find chess matches played there, rare antiques for sale, forums where people may debate about free speech and other topics, and more. You can also find book clubs and other hobby interests. 

On the darker side of the dark web, hackers sell malware that budding young criminals can use to defraud people. Also for sale on the dark web is login credentials, data breach information (bank cards, social security numbers, etc.), stolen Netflix accounts, drugs, weapons, toxic chemicals, and even bombs. All types of illegal activity exist on the dark web, including child pornography, human trafficking, counterfeit items, body parts, and guns for hire. It’s a virtual cornucopia of illicit goods.

How to Access the Dark Web Safely

When considering how to get to the dark web safely, there are a few dangers to be aware of and you must prepare yourself ahead of time.

Illegal activity - Be aware that criminals control a good portion of the dark web. You cannot trust anyone on the dark web, so be extra cautious when purchasing or selling anything while there. You will most likely have to pay with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but you may or may not receive the goods. Just know that the dark web is full of scammers trying to separate you and your money.

Be careful - Anything you do on the dark web may be considered a crime if you deal with other criminals. So be careful how you proceed.

Fraudulent links - Do not click on any suspicious links. You could be taken to areas of the dark web that you want to avoid. Some links can infect your computer with malware or lead you down an illegal path you might better avoid.

Law enforcement– It’s important to understand that a lot of law enforcement officers troll the dark web looking for illegal activity. You won't recognize them because they too are anonymous until they catch you for something you did there. Be cautious about who you deal with when visiting the dark web and stay out of trouble. 

To visit the dark web safely, follow these steps:

1. Purchase a VPN

Research VPNs and purchase one you feel comfortable about. Install it and turn it on before visiting any dark websites. A VPN can further enhance your security by masking your IP and cloaking your online activities. Always remember to turn on your VPN before browsing the traditional web or the dark web.

2. Download the Tor Browser

Next, you will need to download the Tor browser. Keep in mind; law enforcement does monitor Tor downloads. Install the browser, and you are almost ready to go. Be sure to keep your browser updated with the latest security patches. Unlike the regular internet, the dangers of the dark web are fiercer.

3. Adjust the Security Settings on Tor

Configure the Tor browser with the highest security settings. Do not allow any "automatic" downloads of files, software, or other items. Maintain strict privacy by tweaking your settings before use. 

4. Search or Use Known Web Addresses to Access Content

Be sure to fire up your VPN before opening Tor. You can use the dark web address "Hidden Wiki," which will take you to a dark web Wiki page with some other dark web addresses to try. You may be able to find different dark web addresses online or through friends and family. Only visit dark web locations from trusted sources.

Using these steps above, you can safely enjoy exploring the dark web.

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