For many of us, when we hear the term ‘Dark Web’ we immediately call to mind stories of internet hackers selling credit card information, nefarious drug-dealing websites, and/or the occasional video-feed showing a murder or suicide. The anonymous and encrypted nature of the Dark Web allows websites to be hidden from traditional search engines and browsers, while masking the true origin of the individual users. Therefore, it is naturally going to attract those from the shadier side of life.
But Should We Be Scared of It?
Absolutely not! As long as you use a little common sense. While the main stories we hear may not be so good, the Dark Web does have legitimate uses and is vital to many around the world. Those that live under suppressed or totalitarian societies can utilize it for communications with the outside world, as can anyone that is worried about government agencies or other entities spying on their web use. Most of the time this is represented by an iceberg – the top 1/3 is the ‘main’ internet that you and I use every day, and the bottom 2/3 is the rest. The Dark Web. Once you learn your way around a little bit, you may be surprised at all of the information that is available on this shadowy underbelly.
What is the Difference Between the Dark & Deep Web?
It’s simple. The Dark Web is a part of the Deep Web that contains all web content that cannot be found or indexed by search engines. So in addition to the Dark Web, the Deep Web also encompasses webmail pages, databases, and numerous backend type pages that we generally have no desire to look up or have any reason to use. But there are parts of the Deep Web that you likely use quite often, without even realizing it. Every password-protected website that you access or those hidden behind a paywall are not indexed by the search engines and therefore, are a small part of the Deep Web.
A Little Less Scary Sounding?
Now this doesn’t mean that I recommend running out and getting a TOR browser – more on that in a minute – or making a large purchase on the Dark Web. With the anonymity also comes the use of anonymous currencies. Meaning that if you want to purchase anything on the Dark Web, you’re likely going to have to use Bitcoin. While this might give you the ability to make purchases only you are aware of, it can also leave you with little recourse if the deal goes sideways or you are otherwise unsatisfied. Buyer definitely beware.
So, How Do I Get There?
The difficult part of the Dark Web is knowing where to look for stuff. You can go to torproject.com to quickly and easily install and begin to use Tor. There are also several free options available in Google Play and various App Stores that will anonymously make your connection with the Dark Web. You can even start beforehand by visiting Reddit and various Wiki sites to gather a list of different pages or sites that you want to visit on the Dark Web.
But be warned, you may encounter a lot of dead links as well as sites that you have absolutely no intention of using and may see things you have absolutely no desire to see. This is the internet that your mother warned you about! It can be fun – in a sideshow kind of way – but it can also be home to some very twisted minds and websites. Everything from recipes for bundt cakes to recipes for bomb-cakes along with ‘secret’ UFO documents and videos that will make you laugh, cry, or puke. Or all the above at the same time.
Not a Recommendation… Just a Review
Please don’t take this article to mean that myself or the staff of Geek Insider is endorsing or promoting use of the Dark Web. We just wanted to pull back the curtain a little bit for those that have no real understanding of the subject, and if you decide to check it out, you do so at your own risk. The Dark Web is how the internet was initially meant to be: anonymous with free sharing of information. If you refrain from downloads or outright purchases and just want to see what all the hubbub is about, then you can feel relatively safe using using one of the Tor interfaces and going Dark.
Just remember…. We warned you.
What do you use the Dark Web for? Ever made a purchase via the Dark Web or seen something that was just totally messed up? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.