What is the Dark Web? How Does it Work? How to Access it Safely?

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What is Dark Web

The tremendous expanse of the internet is undoubtedly familiar to you from hearing about the mysterious “Dark Web.” But what is it? Is it ethical or even secure to use? Everything will become apparent from the information provided on the dark Web. You don’t need to worry; we’ll help you understand it.

What’s the Dark Web?

The dark Web is a part of the internet of hidden websites that aren’t indexed by traditional search engines.

The term “dark web” describes the content on the internet that is purposefully concealed and inaccessible without specialized software, such as the Tor Browser. The deep Web, or everything on the internet that search engines haven’t indexed, is subdivided into the black Web.

Content on the dark Web can be found on the darknet, an area of the internet that can only be accessed with specific network setups or a browser like Tor. Search engines cannot find it. The “dark” aspect comes here because using specific software to browse the dark Web keeps you anonymous.

It is possible to purchase credit card details, various types of illicit drugs, weapons, fraudulent money, stolen Netflix accounts, weapons, and software that facilitates computer intrusions from other individuals.

Purchase passwords for a $50,000 Bank of America account, prepaid debit cards, fake $20 notes, or a “lifetime” premium Netflix account. For support in hacking computers, you can employ hackers. Purchasing usernames and passwords is possible with dark Web.

Encrypting communications and routing online content over several web servers are two ways the dark internet maintains anonymity. Though it’s not always correct, the dark Web is sometimes portrayed as a wild place where illicit activities occur.

Said the darknet is an anonymous area of the internet that may be utilized for either positive or harmful purposes.

How the Dark Web Works?

The “dark web” comprises hidden websites that are inaccessible using standard web browsers. The dark Web anonymizes a user’s IP address using sophisticated encryption and intricate algorithms.

This complicates determining which websites the device has visited. Moreover, communication encryption is used on the dark Web to enable private file sharing, blogging, and conversation. 

Users must utilize certain browsers, such as Tor (The Onion Router), to access the black Web. To search for hidden websites, anonymize your online traffic within its internal network, and access the dark Web, Tor builds covert tunnels.

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The dark Web retrieves webpages that aren’t indexed online using data such as bank accounts, email, and databases. Many items, including illicit and unlawful commodities, exploits, vulnerabilities, access, tools, methods, and stolen data, are sold on the dark Web.

What Is the Surface Web?

The term “surface web” refers to the part of the internet that we usually use for routine tasks like social networking, online shopping, news reading, and surfing. Companies also depend on it for their daily activities – from advertising and consumer relations to complex commerce systems and live streaming of events.

From the creation of the first browser in 1990, the surface web has been a component of the World Wide Web. In addition, it is the most well-known area of the internet, where users may find anything on the internet using major search engines like Yahoo, Google, Bing, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Edge, etc.

Anything that any of these standard search engines can index is considered part of the surface web. This is the web browser that most consumers use to access everything from daily online news to making purchases on e-commerce websites. Furthermore, it is the region of the internet that is constantly monitored by governments worldwide.

Another term for this layer of the Web is the “open” or “clear” Web. These phrases assist in identifying it from the Dark Web, which is accessible only with specific software and intended to preserve the identity of its website owners, and the deep Web, which contains unindexed stuff frequently concealed in databases and research papers and secured by paywalls.

The surface web is open, in contrast to its dark and deep web cousins, with content easily indexed and accessible for popular search engines to gather and display to users in answer to their searches.

Dark Web Vs. Deep Web: Difference to Understand

Although there is a significant distinction between the terms “deep web” and “dark web,” they are commonly associated with illicit and other questionable activities.

The most significant differences between the deep and dark Web are listed below.

S.NoDeep Web  Dark Web
1The part of the Internet that is concealed and not shown by traditional search engines is known as the “deep web.”A purposefully concealed portion of the deep web is called the “dark web.”
2The deep Web is the Internet region not visible to the human eye.  One of the biggest networks of terrorist and criminal activity online is called the Dark Web.
3You need a password, encryption, or specialized software to access this.You need to use Tor Project or an equivalent browser to see this.
  4A small section of the World Wide Web, known as the “deep web,” has material that is not indexed by conventional search engines.    The WWW content that may be found on darknets—overlay networks that use the Internet but need software, setups, or permissions to access—is known as the “dark web.”
5Compared to the Surface web, it is bigger.It is an incalculably large subset of the Deep Web.
6They are usually used for legitimate objectives requiring anonymity.used occasionally for illegal activities.
7It is accessible with a VPN.    It takes a lot of security measures to access this data.
8All the unindexed web pages are included.    It only consists of a portion of the deep web’s unindexed web pages.
9It may be accessed with any browser like Tor, I2P, Freenet, etc.,Its accessibility is limited to certain browsers.
10Private networks, or intranets, that are utilized by companies and educational institutions are restricted to the public.Giving users and website owners anonymity is the main purpose of the dark web.    
11Subscription-based apps are only available to users once they have made a payment for them. This data is inaccessible to search engine crawlers because of the paywall.The dark web allows websites to disguise that they don’t want to be on the public internet, where they may be monitored.
12Secure Payments: Customers submit their payment information over the deep web each time they make an online purchase.Liberty Communication: People living under repressive governments, such as those in North Korea, use the dark web to safely organize and express themselves. When governments blocked access to social media during the Arab Spring, protestors relied heavily on the dark web to circumvent Internet censorship.
13Most of the deep web is secure and simple to use. This is a standard procedure for securely accessing websites.The dark web is always changing, with new forums and markets for illicit activities appearing regularly.

How do you know if the Dark Web Contains your Personal Information?

One of the quickest methods to determine whether your data is accessible on the dark Web is to visit the “Have I Been Pwned” (HIBP) website. You need to use your phone number or email address to search. This is a free service.

Several indicators might indicate identity theft if your data is bought and sold online. For instance, you could observe peculiar behavior in your email accounts and bank statements. No matter how minor, any unusual activity must be handled meticulously.

You can adopt a proactive approach by using fraud alerts, black web scanning, and dark web monitoring. Keep going, though, as cybersecurity is a constant worry. Be watchful and take aggressive measures to protect your sensitive data.

Enrolling for credit monitoring and routinely reviewing your credit score are also wise decisions. Using a dark web surveillance service is an intelligent way to go even further with it.

Even though these precautions might sound extreme, remember that it’s almost hard to completely delete your information from the dark Web once it’s there. On the darknet, websites are frequently recreated under new names and disappear quickly. Because of this, dishonest people can profitably duplicate your data several times.

You follow best security practices and diligently safeguard your data, but you still detect occasional weaknesses. In such a scenario, your private information is most likely on the dark Web. Unusual behavior frequently originates in a “dark” area.

How to Remove Personal Data from the Dark Web?

Let’s review a few methods to delete your data from data brokers and other online sources.

Delete Private Information from Blogs and Other Websites 

If it is no longer helpful, it might be a good idea to take down any online information you generate, whether it be blogs, articles, or other types of writing. You could have disclosed sensitive information about your life, depending on what you’ve posted.

Furthermore, you might find yourself cited by other individuals in various blog entries, articles, and social media postings. It’s worth contacting these individuals to ask them to remove posts that include sensitive information.  

Businesses and hackers frequently utilize social media and web-based articles that save your personal information when they “internet scrape” to find more effective methods to exploit the information they are targeting.

Delete your Data from Search Results on Google

You wouldn’t believe how much information on you, including your phone number and a copy of your handwritten signature, can be found by doing a simple Google search for your name. It is possible to ask Google to delete results that contain your personally identifiable information (PII).

Try removing sensitive information from search engine results using Google’s information removal request form. Despite this, the content will still be available on the websites where it is uploaded. On the other hand, it will not appear in name search results.

Look for your name on Google and save any page containing your personal information. This contains your contact details, bank account numbers, login credentials, and identification provided by the government.

Submit a request to Google to have your data removed. You’ll be questioned about the specifics of the removal, such as if you’ve previously contacted the website owner to get it taken down.

Once your request is submitted, Google will analyze it, decide whether to approve it or deny it, and then contact you to let you know.

Verify Whether any Password Leaks have Occurred

Your login passwords are among the most private details about you that someone might come across online. Sadly, billions of credentials are stolen monthly and made public online (or on the Dark Web) during data breaches.

Uber, DoorDash, Samsung, Verizon, Twitter, and more companies experienced data breaches in the last year (2023) alone. Use an online leaked password scanner to find email passwords linked to you that have been compromised in data breaches. It looks for your personal information on the Dark Web and on renowned websites and forums that criminals frequent.

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Use various scanners to double-check for websites holding your credentials, such as Identity Guard’s Dark Web scanner and HaveIBeenPwned.com (which searches your phone number).

Adopt robust digital security procedures, such as creating unique passwords, keeping them in a secure password manager, and turning on two-factor authentication (2FA) using an authenticator app. Update any hacked accounts.

Limit the Settings for the Applications you use on your phone and Remove any Unnecessary Ones

Eliminating useless phone applications, you never use or require is another way to clean up your online digital footprint. A paid app subscription may allow it to follow personal information like your payment details and real-time location even when the app is closed or not in use. Specific applications go so far as to sell this data, as it may benefit other businesses using it to target specific customer profiles and groups for advertising.

To reduce your online footprint, share as little information as possible with applications. Give them access to your contacts, images, and location only when necessary and when the app is used. You could use the app and location services settings on your phone.

Use Anti-tracking Software to Stop Internet Data Processing and Collecting

Websites frequently collect and disseminate user data for marketing. Threat actors may use the same feature to gather information, use deception games, and steal identities.

Sometimes, it takes time to distinguish between fraudulent and trustworthy website tracking software. Preventing all websites from gathering and monitoring your data is the safest action.

Refusing to provide data with websites is one manual approach to do this, albeit it’s only sometimes effective. Malicious websites will not comply with your request, even if the majority will. Using specialized anti-tracking software is the safest method to stop websites from gathering your personal information. 

Tips for Securely Accessing the Dark Web

Here are some suggestions on how to securely browse the Dark Web

Choose a Trustworthy VPN Service Supplier

Putting up a barrier between yourself and your activities is a good idea before venturing into the most dangerous areas of the Internet. You might utilize a VPN service, which conceals your identity and encrypts your data. Choose the VPN service provider that is the most reliable from the numerous available options.

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Using a secure email service provider and concealing your IP address are prerequisites for sending private emails. Most widely used email providers, such as Google as well as Yahoo, excel in ease of use and storage capacity but need more privacy.

Make Use of a Different Operating System

Choose for a Linux distribution like Whonix or Tails, which prioritize anonymity. Tails is an operating system that runs entirely from a USB stick or DVD and is security-focused. On the host computer, it does not have a footprint. It comes with pre-installed privacy and security technologies, such as the Tor Browser, to ensure your online actions stay hidden.

Other suitable options include Qubes OS and Whonix. These open-source, Linux-based operating systems put security first and can be set up to work flawlessly with the Tor network. Compared to conventional operating systems, they provide more control over your privacy settings and frequently come with a broader selection of security measures.

Before you Enter the Dark Web, be sure your Machine is Secure

Before accessing the dark Web via the Tor black web browser, you must:

  • Shut off any unnecessary applications on your smartphone, such as Spotify and Netflix.
  • If your webcam is compromised, cover it with paper to ensure your privacy, and turn off your device’s location.

Concerning Windows 10 and 11: 

Turn off location and erase location history by going to Settings > Privacy > Location.

Regarding macOS:

Uncheck the “Enable Location Services” box in the Security & Privacy panel under System Preferences.

Detect any IP leaks

Even if everything is in order, there is still something you need to do, and that is to see whether there are any leaks that may disclose any personal information about you.

You need to look for leaks related to IP, DNS, and WebRTC. You should visit ipleak.net and dnsleaktest.com after turning on your VPN for this. You want to verify whether the IP address shown there is the one that the VPN service is using or your actual one.

Use Applications that Improve Security and Confidentiality

Many threats can be avoided by using a VPN and antivirus software to browse the dark Web. But if you want to spend a lot of time on the dark Web, we suggest that you arm yourself with a full complement of extra safety and privacy-enhancing apps, such as

An excellent, private dark web search engine like DuckDuckGo: DuckDuckGo is among the top dark web search engines available. Unlike most other search engines, DuckDuckGo searches the onion links that make up the dark Web.

Apps for anonymous file sharing: With these, one can safely share information and have private discussions with friends over Tor. One popular app is OnionShare.

A secure messaging app: Safe programs like Signal or TorChat can assist you in sending encrypted communications.

Secure password manager: A strong password manager is essential for securing all your passwords on and off the dark Web. We suggest using 1Password, the best password manager available.

Wrap up

The Dark Web is a dangerous and complex place; thus it is advisable to approach it with carefully. Although there are legitimate uses for the Dark Web, consumers should be aware of the potential risks associated with doing so.

A few of the risks that users of the Dark Web encounter are viruses, fraud, cybercrime, and criminal activity. It’s essential to utilize caution, be alert, and alert legal authorities of any suspicious behavior when utilizing the Dark Web.

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Common FAQ’s

How Do Criminals Make Money on the Dark Web? 

Cybercriminals are committing identity theft and financial fraud of various kinds using stolen personal data. Use stolen private data as leverage against businesses and people—even threatening to post it on the Dark Web—to extract payments.

Is the Dark Web Illegal?

The Dark Web is not illegal despite its scary reputation. It is also not illegal to access. Without a doubt, though, most of the activities on the Dark Web are connected to illegal activity.

Can I Use the Dark Web to Find My Data?

If you have a Google One subscription, you may create a profile to track the dark Web and discover if any breaches have exposed your personal information. Data that may be connected to your email address or other information you upload to your monitoring profile can be found on the dark Web.

Which Risks Are Associated with the Dark Web?

You might be in serious legal trouble and risk losing your liberty; no security precautions—information on phishing scams, Danger of infection on the device, etc.

Can I use my Phone to Access the Dark Web?

Tor is available for usage on mobile devices. That does not imply that you should, though. In security, mobile users—especially those who use Android—are not at the top of the pyramid.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a passionate Cyber-Security Enthusiast who keenly monitors the latest developments in the Web/Cyber Security industry. She puts her knowledge into practice and helps web users by arming them with the necessary security measures to stay safe in the digital world.