Dark web forms a part of the Deep web which cannot be indexed by search engines. These are a collection of websites that are publicly visible but can hide the IP addresses. This makes tracking of such websites difficult. A search engine will never be able to find such websites.
In totality, the complete web eco-system can be classified as:
- Surface Web – This is the top layer of the web which can be found by search engines. This includes Wikipedia, Google, Bing and everything else that we browse over a regular search engine. This forms only 10% of the complete web eco-system.
- Deep Web – Deep Web contains 90% of the information available over the Internet. However, this is not accessible by surface web crawlers. This is also referred to as a hidden web or invisible web.
This information can be used for various purposes such as online banking, newspapers, video on demand and many more. This includes services for which users have to pay and would be behind a paywall. This part of the web includes academic information, legal documents, medical records, scientific reports, financial records, government resources, organization-specific repositories, social media and many more.
- Dark Web – Dark Web is a part of Deep web and forms about roughly 20% of the deep web. This is accessible only through certain browsers such as Tor. This contains illegal information, private communications, drug trafficking sites and terrorism-related content. Dark Web is closely associated with Darknet.
What is Darknet?
Darknet is an encrypted network which is built on top of the existing open internet. You require specific tools and services to access the darknet. Darknet provides anonymity to internet users. An example of a darknet is the Tor or also called as The Onion Router. To use Tor network, you would require a Tor browser.
Tor can be used to access surface websites as well as a number of hidden websites. This uses a protocol which is called as Tor Hidden Service protocol. The websites which can be accessed only over Tor network have a ".onion" address. Very commonly, Tor's darknet is also referred to as Onionland.
Apart from Tor network, Friend-to-Friend (F2F) is also a kind of darknet. This is used for communication between two people over a P2P connection. Such a network is not accessible by others and can be encrypted to share a communication privately between two people.
Dark web can be perceived as the world wide web for darknet networks such as Tor, F2F, and others. The websites running on darknet is referred to as the dark web.
How to access the Dark Web?
To access the dark web, one needs to be sure they are maintaining all security and anonymity guidelines. The best way to achieve anonymity is by using the VPN. A preferable choice always would be to buy a paid version of a VPN, but there are freely available VPN services as well. Once the VPN is installed, you can get connected to the VPN and begin accessing dark web.
The best alternative to Tor is I2P which is more dedicated to the dark web. I2P (Invisible Internet Project) has a better security and is faster as compared to Tor. However, setting up I2P is more complex as compared to Tor.
Tail OS gives users a complete environment to access the dark web with Tor browser. Kali OS is yet another favorable choice to access the dark web.
Precautions while accessing dark web:
- Access Dark web using a software such as Tor which maintains user's anonymity.
- Avoid using Windows OS. Choose Tail OS, since it is designed to maintain privacy and anonymity.
- Do not download any content from the dark web. You might end up downloading a malicious file.
- Do not use uTorrent while connected to Dark web.
- Keep your OS and browser updated with latest security patches. This is important. For instance, recently Tor had a vulnerability which leaked the real IP and thereby making it possible to track your location.
- Do not use a webcam while connected to Dark web.
- Do not open unknown links, advertising links or links that other people send you.
- Avoid exposing private details or initiating payment transactions.
Final Word on Dark Web:
People usually explore the dark web to get information which they do not get over a surface web. This could be pertaining to any field. In many cases, this is used to bypass censorship, while people can also access illegal market and content. The dark web cannot be always perceived as something negative. Since this is a place which can be extensively searched to get to the root of several illegal activities. For instance, you could have a service which dives to the dark web in order to search if your personal information or credit card number is compromised.