What is the Dark Web – How to Surf the Dark Web Safely
By Nick Anderson 5 minutes
The term Dark Web often pops up on the internet. You may have heard of it, but it’s alright if you haven’t. It’s not something that we use every day. But Dark Web exists like a realm that’s inaccessible by normal conventions. It can be a resource for valid uses but can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.
The internet is a huge network of computers, consisting of billions of domains, but a majority of those domains lie in this part of the internet that has been colloquially named the “Dark Web.”The implications of Dark Web as a place where all the evils of the internet take place are not overly-exaggerated.
What is the Dark Web?
The Dark Web is an anonymous part of the internet which search engines cannot index. Just like computers powering the World Wide Web, the Dark Web is a network of multiple websites, but inaccessible by regular web browsers.
The Dark Web is not indexed by search engines such as Google. Indexing refers to finding, collecting, and ranking the links Google’s bots find on the internet. Search engines rank webpages based on several factors like relevancy and freshness. But search engines cannot index pages if there are no links to index. It’s because that network is encrypted.
Dark Web is Not Deep Web
It’s a common misconception that the Dark Web and the Deep Web are the same things. Allow us to explain.
As the Dark Web, the Deep Web is that part of the internet that search engines can’t index, or instead, they don’t because it includes things such as your email inbox, accounts of services, or any type of information that is stored on the internet. But this type of information cannot be accessed; it’s encrypted and requires credentials. It would not be safe if suddenly your email account popped up during a Google search. So, search engines exclude such information from indexation.
Dark Web is an extension of the Dark Web. But it consists of websites that are “off the grid” so to speak. This network is called the Onion network, and the websites on the network carry a .onion suffix, unlike .com or .net, that public domains carry.
Websites on the Dark Web can tell Google’s crawlers not to crawl their pages. Search engines take a stance against indexing websites that contain or promote illegal content.
Dark Web is the shade under which illegal activities take place. Illegal guns market, child pornography, human trafficking, confidential data marketplace, hackers for hire, or even a hitman for hire, are some of the dark areas that make up pretty much the entire Dark Web.
To give you an idea of the vastness of the Deep Web, it consists of 90% of the internet; the World Wide Web is only 10% or even lower than that in size.
There are Dark Web search engines, but they are far from as extensive as you’d expect a search engine like Google to be. For the most part, you’ll have to discover .onion domain on your own. And you’ll know which ones to avoid.
How to Access the Dark Web Safely
Dark Web can be used positively. In this age of digital surveillance where internet activities are monitored by Internet Service Providers (ISP) and governments, it’s like treading through a laser grid. Dark Web provides anonymity for whistleblowers to share information. Journalists use it to obtain information without compromising their sources.
To access the Dark Web, you need the Tor browser. The Onion Router (TOR) is built to access the onion network through a series of nodes. You can learn about Tor in-depth in our blog. But in simple words, Tor relies on three nodes in the network to relay the data to its destination. Data travels encrypted to the Entry Node, Middle Node, Exit Node, then finally to its destination. Encryption is peeled off at every node until the final layer at the Exit Node, hence the name “Onion”.
You might ask that if Tor already uses encryption, then why is a VPN recommended for safe browsing. It’s because the Entry Node knows where the request came from by seeing your IP address. But if you connect to a VPN, then pass that request to Tor, the node will see the VPN server’s node instead.
It is why you also need a trustable VPN service that promises to respect your privacy every step of the way. FastestVPN guarantees a no-logs policy, allowing you to leave no footprint of your browsing history.
Here’s how to get started
- Download Tor and run the setup.
- Download the FastestVPN app.
- Launch FastestVPN and connect to the nearest server.
- Now launch Tor.
You are now free to browse the Tor network. Head over to whatismyip.com and note down the IP address and location. If it’s different from the VPN server you have connected to, then you have full anonymity.
The number one thing to remember while surfing the Dark Web is to stay away from illegal websites. There are some clean domains, including Facebook, which has made available a .onion version of the platform available. You can also check out The Hidden Wiki to learn more about .onion domains.
For most users, the surface web – as its called – is a relatively safe experience. But if you happen to find yourself researching the Dark Web, take advantage of a VPN before connecting to Tor.