What is the Dark Web? Everything You Need to Know!

Dark Web

You’ve probably heard of the dark web, but what is it exactly? Is it illegal? Is it dangerous? How do people access it? Simply put, the dark web refers to a part of the World Wide Web that exists on darknets—overlay networks that use the Internet but require specific software, configurations, or authorization to access.

In other words, the dark web is a part of the internet that isn’t indexed by search engines. Unlike the surface web, which most people use daily and can be accessed through search engines like Google, the dark web requires a specific set of tools to access its content. For example, accessing the dark web requires a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and an anonymizing browser called Tor (The Onion Router).

While it is often associated with activities of questionable legality, and it certainly does attract criminal elements, the dark web actually hosts a mix of illicit and legitimate content. Legitimate activities include joining specialized social networks or private communication forums. Still, researchers have found that 57% of live dark web sites host illicit material. Here are some key points to know:

Anonymity & Privacy

  • The dark web relies on encryption and anonymity to keep the identities of visitors and website owners private.
  • The Tor browser routes internet traffic through a network of volunteer-operated servers to help conceal a user’s location and usage.
  • For added security, always access the dark web through a VPN service.
  • Ensure that your Internet Security applications are active and up-to-date.

Illegal Activities

  • The dark web is a hotbed for illegal activities such as hacking, counterfeiting, drug dealing, weapons trading, and human trafficking.
  • The dark web is a hub for cybercriminals who commit credit card fraud, identity theft, malware distribution, and offer hacking for hire.
  • The dark web is a place where users can access hacked databases containing stolen data such as usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and subscription credentials.

Risks & Dangers

  • Browsing without VPN protection, which leaks your IP address and location.
  • Visiting unencrypted dark web sites that aren’t using a secure connection.
  • Using an out-of-date device that may have vulnerabilities.
  • Surfing the dark web without active and up-to-date antivirus protection.
  • Having Javascript enabled, which is vulnerable to hacking.
  • Clicking on malicious links through trickery or by mistake.
  • Downloading infected software files.
  • Falling victim to dark web scams.
  • Making payments with credit cards and e-wallet services.
  • Using a real email address.
  • Disclosing your true identity.
  • Unintentionally getting involved with illegal activities and breaking the law.

Deep Web vs. Dark Web

  • The terms “deep web” and “dark web” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same.
  • The deep web refers to all parts of the internet not indexed by search engines including financial accounts, legal files, HIPAA-sensitive information, enterprise databases, private forums, and other password-protected content.

Remember, while the dark web can be intriguing, it’s essential to exercise caution. Whatever you do, don’t even think about hiring the services of a hacker or looking up the steps to make a bomb! The dark web can be a dangerous place, and many dark websites are designed by professional cybercriminals to steal users’ personal info or money. To increase your safety on dark websites, always access them using a VPN service, and ensure that you have updated and activated your Internet Security applications. Don’t ever give out your regular email address, either. ProtonMail is a Swiss-based encrypted email service that allows you to send completely confidential emails. It’s one of the most reliable email clients on the dark web. Stay safe!


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