The Dark Web: What You Need to Know
Despite its negative connotations, the Dark Web is nothing to be afraid of. Few know that the Dark Web was actually thought out as a means of preserving privacy and security. However, this also enabled it to become a breeding ground for illegal activity.
There are certainly things to be distrustful of when navigating the Dark Web, and before venturing into it head-first, you should understand certain things about it.
What is the Dark Web?
The first thing you need to know is that there is no actual database for the Dark Web. Instead, there are only what are known as “peer to peer connections”, which means that the data you are accessing is not stored in just one place.
Instead, it is found on thousands of different computers that are part of the network, so that no one can actually identify where the information is coming from. You can upload to the network, but when downloading, there is no telling where you’re getting the data from.
Why do people use the Dark Web?
There are all kinds of uses for the dark web. Some of them are downright nefarious; others, not so much.
- Drug sales
Taking into consideration the anonymous nature of the Dark Web, it was only a matter of time before it came into use to sell illegal drugs. It is the ideal avenue for this kind of transaction, because of the anonymity factor that is inherent to the Dark Web.
- Illegal commerce
To say that you can buy anything on the Dark Web would be an understatement. Anything you can imagine, no matter how gruesome, can be purchased on the Dark Web, from guns to stolen data to organs.
- Child porn
Is it really a surprise that child porn is rampant on the Dark Web? It’s one of the darker aspects of it, but the anonymous nature of it does lend itself to concealing horrible realities like this.
For all its negative connotations and activities, the Dark Web can also be a way to foster open communication that can sometimes save lives or make a change. Especially in cases where governments monitor online activity, having a place to speak out freely can be invaluable.
The Dark Web can be used as an excellent source for journalists because sources can remain anonymous. Additionally, no one can track their activity, so it cannot attract consequences from authorities.
How to access
You may be wondering how you can access the Dark Web – after all, you can’t just Google it or access it in a regular browser.
Here are some of the aspects you need to keep in mind about accessibility, including the browser you need to use, the URLs, personal credentials you may need, and even acceptable currency, should you decide to make a purchase.
- TOR browser
The most common way to access the Dark Web is via The Onion Router (TOR), the browser used by most people for this purpose. This ensures that your identity will remain concealed, as will your activity, because it encrypts everything.
You can obtain the TOR browser by downloading it from the official website. It’s as easy as installing it and running it like any normal program. And if you were worried about the legality of it – have no fear.
Both accessing the Dark Web and downloading the means to do so are entirely legal. While this can enable some pretty dark human behavior, it can also give us very necessary freedom to do positive things, as you will see. Not everyone uses it for nefarious purposes.
- Exact URLs
Something that makes it difficult to navigate the Dark Web is the fact that the pages are not indexed by browsers. That means that anything you may be looking for will require an exact URL. That does limit the amount of people who can access the Dark Web, as well as the scope of the pages one can gain access to.
Unless you know exactly where to look, you may not have a lot of luck finding what you want. That can deter you from searching, or on the contrary, it can determine you to go looking for someone who is well versed in illegal activity and who can help you out.
- Criminal activity
It comes as no surprise that the Dark Web is a hotbed of criminal activity. No one is advocating that one pick up criminal undertakings in order to use the Dark Web. But generally speaking, the people who will most likely be looking to access URLs here are people who are engaged in all manner of criminal activity.
All transactions on the Dark Web are completed via Bitcoin, as this type of currency cannot be traced. That increases the degree of safety of the transaction, both for buyers and for sellers.
However, that does not mean that these transactions are always safe. There is a high degree of uncertainty that accompanies these transactions, regardless of what you are purchasing.
You might find that the person you are buying from is a scammer who can end up taking your money, but not sending over your product. While identities are protected, transactions are not, so a degree of care is always necessary.
The future of the Dark Web
While authorities are always making efforts to cut down on the number of sites present on the Dark Web, more are always created. In the end, it proves to be a bit of a wasted effort. The more websites get shut down, the more pop up in their place.
Does that mean that the Dark Web will continue in perpetuity? No one can say with any degree of certainty. It is entirely possible that people will seek refuge in the anonymity of the Dark Web as the degree of surveillance grows, or the opposite can happen and we can grow to accept surveillance as a means of ensuring a thin veneer of security.
The Dark Web will always be controversial, but it’s not nearly as scary as it seems. It’s true that it certainly conceals some illegal and immoral behavior, but it can also be used for good. The anonymous and untraceable aspects of it help it remain a somewhat neutral space where one can find the freedom to communicate, investigate, search, trade, make purchases, etc.