What is the Dark Web?

The dark web is an obscure part of the global web that is not accessible through normal browsers and search engines. It is primarily known as a place where criminals do their business. Yet the dark web also has positive sides. Here you can read everything about what the dark web is and how you can get there.

What is the Dark Web?

The web can be divided into three parts: the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web. Most of us are only on the surface web. This is easily accessible by browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

The deep web is the part of the web that is not easily accessible for everyone. You will therefore not get there via a search engine. This concerns pages and databases that can only be reached by people within a certain organization. For example, it is possible that the database at your work is located here. Often you need to know the exact website to get there and sometimes you even need a password.

We call the last layer of the web the dark web. You only come here via special browsers such as Tor. This part of the web is not checked and is therefore often used for illegal practices.

So you can only visit the dark web through a browser like Tor. Also the normal .nl .com or .org does not work on the dark web. Websites can be found with .onion, but even then you need the exact URL. URLs on the dark web look a lot less clear than URLs you are used to. They often consist of a totally random row of characters.

What is happening on the Dark Web?

Because websites on the dark web are difficult to reach, it is impossible to map exactly what is happening. What we can say is that the vast majority of the dark web is full of things that would be removed on the surface web. Below we discuss some things that take place on the dark web.

Black markets

The internet is a dream for the black market because people from all over the world can be reached here. On the dark web, you will find a lot of web shops that offer illegal things. The best-known webshop of the dark web is Silk Road. At these types of web shops, you will find everything that cannot be sold on the surface web. Examples are drugs, weapons, and counterfeit documents.

Dangerous websites

Because the dark web is therefore not regulated by anyone, you will also come across many dangerous fake websites. If you visit the dark web, it is wise to be careful what you click on. Before you know it you have acquired a virus. You can also end up on a site that you are not waiting for, with nasty things like child pornography and animal abuse. Partly due to these dangers, it is better not to go on the dark web if it is not necessary.

Anonymous communication

The dark web is also used to communicate anonymously. Whistleblowers and journalists can use the dark web to exchange information anonymously. Whistleblowers often do not want the company or government they work to find out that they are communicating information. The dark web was the place where, for example, Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden opened their booklets.

In addition to this positive variant of anonymous communication, this can of course also be used by criminals to keep their communication out of sight of the police.

Botnets

A  botnet is a network of infected devices that can be controlled by a hacker. The owners of the devices that are part of such a network do not need to be aware of this at all. The botnet driver can use the network to spread viruses, collect personal information or perform a DDoS attack. By operating on the dark web, a botnet is discovered less quickly. There are also places on the dark web where DDoS attacks and botnets are sold.

Bitcoin

On the dark web, cryptocurrencies are almost exclusively used to pay. The block-chain method for payment is ideal for anonymous transactions. If you buy or sell illegal items, you naturally do not want this to be stated in your bank statement.

How do I get to the Dark Web?

Tor

Tor (The onion router) is an open source software that works like a browser. Unlike browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Safari, the aim is to offer users anonymity. At Tor, all your searches go through a network of nodes. A layer of encryption is extracted at every stop. This way you can browse anonymously.

With Tor, you can get on the dark web. The addresses that end with .onion can be reached via this browser. Tor, therefore, provides access to both the regulated and the unregulated part of the web. In our article about the safety of Tor, you can find more information about this special browser.

VPN

If you go on the dark web, it is wise to protect your device with a VPN. A VPN gives you freedom, security, and anonymity on the web. On the dark web, you prefer not to be able to find out who you are and where you are. It would be dangerous for criminals to get hold of your personal information because you are unsecured on the dark web. We would recommend to use NordVPN for Tor. This VPN has special servers that work great with Tor.

Extra security measures

Because there are criminals and hackers on the dark web, it is important to go on the dark web well protected. In addition to using a VPN and the Tor browser, there are a few more steps you can take to protect yourself and your device.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that does not keep track of your surfing behavior. It works exactly the same as other search engines and can be used in Tor. You can also use DuckDuckGo if you just visit the surface web, but don’t want the search engine to collect information about you.

Antivirus

It is always important to have a good anti-virus and anti-malware program, whether you are on the dark web or not. Because it is even easier to download viruses on the dark web, it is absolutely necessary for this purpose.

Is the Dark Web Legal?

Although there are many illegal things happening on the dark web, visiting it is not illegal in most countries. As you may understand, it is, of course, illegal to buy or view certain things on the dark web.

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