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What is the Dark Web?

understanding the dark web

understanding the dark web

If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time, you’ve probably heard about the “dark web.” However, you may not know what the it really is, just that it’s scary. Many people even use the term without knowing what, exactly, they’re referring to. Instead of being terrified, read on to discover a little bit about this shadowy part of the internet.

What Is the Dark Web?

Essentially, the dark web is a chunk of the internet that normal browsers cannot access. Instead, you have to use a very specific anonymizing browser called Tor, which runs your web requests through dozens of proxies to make your usage completely unattached to you. Because of the number of steps this takes, it’s often slow and unreliable. But it unlocks a huge portion of the internet that’s completely unavailable to normal browsers.

There, the normal “.net” and “.com” endings are replaced by “.onion,” a very specific ending that’ll only work on the Tor browser. If you click a dark web link in a normal browser, you’ll just receive an error code. Dark web entities are able to provide a brand-new slew of content. Some of what you can access is highly illegal (such as arms dealing, extremism, money laundering, identity theft, etc.). But even Facebook has a presence.

What Is the Difference Between It and the Deep Web?

It’s common for people to confuse the terms “dark web” and “deep web.” However, these two things are actually very different.

The dark web gets its name from the fact that sites on it are intentionally hidden (in the dark, as it were). To access it, you have to go through a myriad of steps, including downloading the Tor browser and even knowing the exact URLs you want to visit. In essence, it’s specifically built to keep you anonymous, and to keep its information in the hands of only a few people.

The deep web is simply defined as anything that search engines don’t index. This is a wide set of websites. For example, when you log into an online banking account, the landing page that comes up after you sign in is part of the deep web. There’s nothing scary or fishy about the deep web; it’s just the vast part of the internet that Google can’t find.

Is It Illegal to Go There?

Many people think that the dark web itself is illegal. After all, with so much shady business going down, it has to be! In fact, it isn’t illegal at all; it’s only illegal if you take part in illegal activities.

It’s true that it is overrun with criminal activity. A 2016 paper found that, of nearly 2,750 dark web pages classified over five weeks, 57% were hosting illegal material. Though that’s a high percentage, it does mean that 43% of the pages were completely legal. Those pages, at least, won’t get you in trouble.

How Can I Stay Safe on the Dark Web?

Safety is all about being aware, and that’s especially important on the dark web. You can feel free to access it to join clubs, talk about current events, or even read hard-to-find books written centuries ago. However, it’s very easy to stumble into dangerous territory. And in some instances, even looking at those illegal sites could land you in jail. You should be careful where you visit. And interacting with anyone via a shady site can have serious consequences if you aren’t careful.

People on the dark web typically don’t give out identifying information about themselves; after all, that’s the point! However, if you do join a completely legal group with intentions to meet up in person, you’ll want to vet people heavily. PeopleFinders can help you do that. Plug in a person’s information and perform a criminal records search, so you can make sure he or she is safe to be near. Whether on the dark web, the deep web, or just in your everyday life, PeopleFinders can probably help.

Image attribution: releon8211 – stock.adobe.com



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