Is Surfing the Dark Web Illegal?
To many, the dark web is the mysterious part of the internet where all cybercrime originates. Though this assumption isn't completely inaccurate, the dark web is also a part of the internet home to much more than just hackers and drug dealers.
The internet can be divided into three different spaces: the surface web (or the clear web), the deep web and the dark web. Contrary to what many might think, the last two are not one and the same entity.
The deep web is a part of the internet that hasn't been indexed by standard web crawlers such as Google and Bing, but can still be accessed by a standard browser. This includes online bank accounts, private social media account data, and a lot of other information.
The dark web, on the other hand, can only be accessed using a special browser known as The Onion Router, or Tor for short. As straight-forward as that may seem, a bit of information is required to set up the browser securely and to track down various dark web URLs.
Accessing the Dark Web
The majority of websites found on the dark web are encrypted using Tor. Many of these sites belong to people who treasure their online anonymity. These may be anti-government activists, journalists or privacy advocates against mass surveillance by the government.
As we all know, however, the dark web is as full of websites hosting highly illicit content such as child pornography,or marketplaces where drugs, weapons, malware and stolen information is available for purchase.
In theory, there is nothing illegal about browsing through dark web sites (excluding human trafficking and child pornography sites). However, purchasing any of the listed contraband counts as a crime.
To access the dark web, downloading and setting up the Tor browser bundle would be the first and most necessary step. With Tor, one can choose to connect via a secure connection (for example, VPN services) or to connect directly via the Tor Network.
Tor facilitates the connection to dark web sites but unfortunately, it doesn't provide inbuilt directories to the URLs of these .onion sites.
Therefore, the next step should be finding a reliable dark web directory such as The Hidden Wiki, which is basically a comprehensive list of a number of dark web URLs you can visit using Tor. Keep in mind that this listing also contains child pornography websites and other illicit hidden services.Tor is commonly used by activists in countries with totalitarian governments where the internet is censored. It's also utilized by journalists looking to communicate securely, large-scale drugs and weapons merchants, hackers and malware developers, and even scam artists who offer killing services at a fee.
Only a fraction of the dark web uses Tor for encryption services. Sites such as Silk Road Reloaded use I2P services which are fundamentally similar to Tor hidden services. To access Silk Road Reloaded and other sites that use I2P services, the user has to install the I2P bundle, which includes a compatible browser, and find the appropriate directories for the URLs he/she wants to visit.
Staying Safe on the Dark Web
Using the dark web safely requires a heightened level ofcaution and alertness. It is a place that is rife with scammers and hackers who prey on users using a variety of techniques. In order to preserve both your identity and your money, there are a few guidelines that should be adhered to:
-Do not click on links you don't know – Aside from phishing scams, some uncategorized links may contain graphic content.
-Keep your computer's webcam covered or disconnected – If a hacker somehow manages to access your device, you can easily keep your face hidden.
- Do not indulge in any activity that is criminal in nature – Participating in any crime on the dark web makes you susceptible to prosecution by law enforcement authorities.
- Check your IP address before and after activating Tor – Ensure that your location has been changed before entering the dark web.
-Use a VPN service to mask your traffic – Using a paid VPN service is the best way to completely conceal your web traffic from ISPs, government surveillance and hackers.
-Do not download files from the dark web – The files may contain malware or ransomware that could destroy your files.
-Refrain from using torrenting services on the dark web.