You are already familiar with sites like Wikipedia, Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. But the whole of the internet as you know it is just an iota of the web? The web is so colossal that one can’t get through the whole of it in a lifetime.
An iceberg representation is often used to highlight how massive the web is. The exposed tip part is usually referred to as the surface web. The upper region of the hidden part represents the deep web, and the lower region that’s far from the surface symbolizes the dark web.
What’s the dark web?
The dark web, in movies, has often been depicted as a nefarious side of the internet, which is a hotbed of felonious and illegal activities. There actually is a certain degree of truth in that, but the rest is exaggerated.
The dark web refers to the part of the internet that is intentionally hidden and not indexed by search engines like Google. In simpler terms, it is the internet side that houses the content that doesn’t appear on normal browser search results. Sites on the dark web are typically on an encrypted network that has a hidden IP address.
As depicted in movies, some of the illegal things available on the dark web include drugs, counterfeit bills, guns, credit card numbers, and even hacked services such as Netflix. We recommend you stay away from these unless you fancy serving jail time. That said, the dark web has a legitimate and positive side too. It has several useful sites worth checking out. The CIA even has a dark web version of their website!
How to access the dark web
Dark web browser
As you’d expect, navigating through this part of the internet is not straightforward. To access the dark web, you have to use a unique anonymity browser.
The commonly used anonymizing browser for the dark web is Tor. To browse through dark web pages, you’ll have to install the Tor browser bundle. When your browser requests for a web page, Tor reroutes that page through a chain of proxy servers, making your IP address untraceable. The whole process is infuriatingly unreliable and slow.
The ISP and government may not be able to see your online activity on the dark web, but they will know you are on the Tor network. In some countries, this can draw the attention of law enforcement organizations.
If you want your activity to remain anonymous, you’ll need a VPN. The VPN reroutes all your traffic. As such, prying eyes won’t know you’re on the Tor network as they can only see the encrypted traffic.
Using a VPN solves the anonymity issue but raises yet another concern. The encryption provided by a VPN combined with the encryption used by Tor (over 3 nodes) can have a huge impact on your speeds. This means that you will require a string connection unless you are just browsing through.
Search Engine & Sites
Except for the naming structure, the sites basically look like the normal ones on the surface web. However, dark web sites have a “.onion” suffix instead of the common suffixes. They also employ a scrambled naming structure that makes the URLs abstruse and hard to remember, and so you will need a way of accessing them.
The dark web has several search engines that you can use to search for content. These include DuckDuckGo, SearX, Not Evil, and Grams. You can also use sites like The Hidden Wiki (http://wikitjerrta4qgz4.onion) to get links for different sites.