While most people have heard about the dark web, most of them don't really understand what it is. In simple terms, the dark web is the section of the internet that's not accessible through your typical search engines.
It is very different from the internet we can access today from our devices, also called the clear net. Their main difference is the level of anonymity users have.
How dark web works
The dark web uses The Orion Router (Tor) servers to mask the IP address of websites and encrypt users' browsing data. This makes it very hard for anyone to track or steal the data of the dark web users.
As a result of this anonymity, the dark web has been a particular favorite for criminals and cyber attackers.
Dangers of the dark Web
Accessing the dark web poses a series of risks for your data and system - From new strings of malware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)Attacks, to phishing, trojans, keyloggers, and identity thefts.
You can also access the ugly side of this internet, which has black markets for drugs and weapons, murders for hire, human trafficking, child pornography, etc.
So, how can you navigate the dark web safely? Here are a few ways to protect yourself and your devices from malware.
#1 Tip: Always use a VPN!
Even though the Tor network offers some form of security and anonymity, it doesn’t come without some vulnerabilities. That’s why you have to invest in a good VPN app for improved security.
The VPN masks your IP address, ensuring that no one can trace your online activities back to you. It also encrypts all your web traffic to prevent third parties from eavesdropping on your network.
Note: Beware that you can't trust all VPN providers. When using Tor browser, avoid free VPNs as they are more susceptible to attacks and data leaks.
#2 Tip: Trust your gut
A big part of your dark web security will also rely on trusting your gut. Mind the people you interact with online, and don’t trust anyone enough to share your sensitive information. Maintain all the basic online security steps when browsing.
A good way to do this is by creating a new online persona for yourself, with data forged from somewhere else. This way, none of your data can get stolen.
#3 Tip: Use an up-to-date Tor browser
Before accessing anything, ensure that your Tor browser application is updated with the latest versions. Similarly, ensure that you verify the source of your download of the app and updates from.
This is because hackers like to take advantage of app vulnerabilities to steal user data. By keeping your Tor applications and operating system up-to-date, you ensure that all weak points are patched with the latest security features.
#4 Tip: Use a new and secure address
Now that you're entering a world of anonymity, you don't want anything that could be used to identify you. So, avoid using your Gmail or Yahoo accounts. Instead, create more secure but disposable email accounts if you're to sign up for any .onion sites.
But if you can avoid signing up for anything, then don’t. The more random your email details are, the safer you’ll be online.
Moreover, avoid sending sensitive information like your Social Security Number, driver's license information, or Credit Card numbers over email.
#5 Tip: Be extra careful with URLs
With the dark web, there are numerous illegal and dirty websites which you wouldn’t want to access. Therefore, be cautious with the .onion website URL you use to access different websites. More importantly, ensure that your connection is secure when you stumble onto the dark content.
If you don’t know which website you want to visit, search for the best Tor websites for your specific need first on your web browser.
#6 Tip: Use Cryptocurrencies
If you have to make a purchase on the dark web, cryptocurrencies are the best way to go. Cryptocurrencies are almost untraceable, meaning nobody can track the payments back to you. Keep in mind; Bitcoin isn't the only crypto you can use to make payments.
In fact, other cryptos such as Monero and Zcash have proven to be among the best privacy-based cryptos in the market today.
There are numerous tips to stay safe on the dark web, but they all boil down to personal security efforts. Look into the above mentioned tips and you should be able to access and use the dark web safely!