What is the ‘Dark Web’ and How to Access this Scary Part of Internet?

Dark Web or Deep Web is the term that you might have heard a lot of times in the recent past. The news publishers have always told you the scary stories about the Dark Web and how it is accessed to carry out the illegal activities. While all that may be true, the news outlets generally interchange the words Dark Web and Deep Web. There is a difference between the two and we need to first understand what makes one different from other to better understand what Dark Web is.

what is the dark web and how to access the dark web
Image credits: kkomando.com

Deep Web vs Dark Web

To understand the basic idea, the Deep Web is a much wider concept and the Dark Web is a small part of it. The Deep Web is the portion of the internet that hasn’t been listed on the conventional search engines. Deep Web is a significant portion of the internet and many might not believe but we use the Deep Web in our daily lives.

Most of the password protected pages of the websites that you use daily aren’t listed on any of the search engines, hence are a part of the Deep Web. Your bank page, the editing page of your profile, and even the dashboard of this blog isn’t listed on the search engines and is a part of the Deep Web. When you read in the news that “90% of the internet is Dark Web”, they really want to say is Deep Web instead of Dark Web. That percentage is, however, more or less accurate.

So, what is the Dark Web then?

If you are wondering what is the Dark Web, it is a much smaller part of the Deep Web that can only be accessed with specialized software and authorization, as we mentioned earlier. The Dark Web uses the same internet but exists on darknets and other overlay networks. Since that part of the internet isn’t available for all just like any other websites, the Dark Web is host to a lot of illegal activities.

The Dark Web uses a strong encryption and the user needs a software with the same encryption technology to access the content. If both the parties, the content providers and the users, are cautious enough, their identity and location will remain hidden. This is the reason why criminals find the Dark Web a perfect place for carrying out their activities. And if the users’ identity is revealed, it could lead them to some serious consequences.

By activities, we mean terrorism, hitman services, smuggling, money laundering, child trafficking, drug dealing, forged documents, hacking and phishing attacks, the sale of firearms and ammunitions, illegal pornography, and human organ trade. By now you might have realized what extreme consequences can happen to the users whose identity got leaked.

By now, you probably understood what is the Dark Web. Keep reading if you want to know further about the topic including how to access the Dark Web and whether all the content listed on the Dark Web is bad.

How to access the Dark Web?

After all this, you might think that accessing the Dark Web would be some kind of rocket science. But it is just the opposite; accessing the Dark Web is as easy as downloading a web browser and entering the website URL you want to visit, at least for the most part. You are indeed required to download a browser for the Dark Web called ‘Tor’.

A major portion of the Dark Web is hosted on Tor network and it can only be decrypted and accessed using the Tor browser. The Tor Browser Bundle needs to be downloaded, which contains all the necessary tools, including the Vidalia Control Panel that will automatically configure the browser to exact network setup required to access the Dark Web. The files downloaded can be extracted and installed like you would do with any other software.

what is the dark web and how to access the dark web

Once everything is done, the browser window will open and it will be your gateway to anonymity. Being a part of Deep Web, there is no search engine here, so you need to know the URLs of the websites that you want to access from the Dark Web. The URLs for these websites have ‘.onion’ top level domain and the URLs are intentionally made lengthy, making them even more difficult to remember.

Grams is a search engine based on Tor but it has a fairly limited approach. However, it can help you with your first ride into the Dark Web, you just need to double check what you are about to click for being safe. Talking about safety, it is always recommended to use a strong VPN service at least while accessing the Dark Web, and maybe cover your webcam with a white tape, in case someone is tracking your activities.

In fact, many users have reported to receive blank calls or being followed physically right after accessing something the Dark Web that they shouldn’t have. Forums are filled with such scary stories that will make you think twice before accessing the Dark Web. It is always advisable to stay safe and use all the means available to maintain your anonymity from the surface web as well as the criminals and hackers on the Dark Web.

Now that you know how to access the Dark Web, it is not necessary that you have to access it. Since all the good and informative websites are already available publicly, it is advisable that you should avoid accessing the Dark Web.

Is everything on the Dark Web bad?

Not necessarily. But the most part is. There is a certain section of the society that needs anonymity, like activists, reporters, and whistle-blowers. The best example of this is WikiLeaks, which was started on the Dark Web, and is used by many of the whistle-blowers all around the world to reveal the corrupt side of the governments. Mere accessing the Dark Web isn’t illegal but what matters is which websites you visit or what content you access once inside.

This piece is, of course, intended to serve as a guide to what is believed to be unknown by many. We certainly don’t endorse or encourage you to access the Dark Web and indulge in any illegal activity. For an individual, there is nothing that the Dark Web can do; a VPN service, along with common sense, should be more than enough to maintain your privacy and other threats on the internet.

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