You cannot visit the dark web without a VPN since the dark web sites are usually restricted and hidden from the surface web. You need a VPN with a special browser to securely access the deep or dark web.
The internet we browse is segmented into three categories:
- Surface Web
- Deep Web
- Dark Web
The surface web is clean and includes all the famous sites we browse, such as Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
The deep web is the part of the internet that’s not indexed by search engines. Normal search engines like Google, Duckduckgo, and Bing cannot find them.
Such sites are hidden behind paywalls, password-protected websites, unindexed academic content, research papers, etc.
On the other hand, the dark web is a small portion of the internet intentionally hidden and can only be accessed through special tools such as the Tor browser. It is generally a hub of illegal activities such as drugs, firearms, hacked credit cards, child porn, etc. However, there are good uses of the dark web too.
For example, militaries and secret agencies use it for secret communication. Many people use it for anonymous internet browsing, IRC chatting, and activism.
Is the Dark Web Legal?
Using the dark web itself is not illegal, and it’s dangerous to visit without proper tools and precautions. Landing on the dark web without proper security measurement can lead to data loss, hacking, or ransomware attacks.
The dark web is the hidden section or the dark side of the internet not indexed by search engines and can only be accessed with special browsers like the Tor browser.
It’s mostly used for all kinds of illegal activities, such as drugs, pirated content, human trafficking, child abuse, illegal weapons, and all kinds of evil things. So, it’s better not to visit such a place unless it’s really necessary.
Nevertheless, it’s crucial to understand that engaging in illegal activities, such as accessing child abuse images, promoting terrorism, or selling illegal items, is unlawful regardless of the online environment, including the dark web.
Risks Involved In Visiting the Dark Web Without a VPN
If you don’t take proper precautions, there are potential risks in visiting the dark web. Here are some of the risks discussed below that you need to consider.
- You can involved in cybercrime: Visiting the dark web is risky. If you end up on a website you’re not supposed to be without hiding your IP address, your activities may flagged as cybercrime by the law.
- Your device can get hacked: The dark web is where evil experts lurk around. You may visit a site that secretly accesses your webcam or steal your saved passwords, credit card info, or files from your drive, and you’ll never know.
- You may download malware: The dark web is filled with fake software, phishing sites, viruses, and malware. You may unknowingly download ransomware on your device and lose all your sensitive files.
- You may get a psychological shock: There are dangerous places on the dark web, such as Red Room, child abuse sites, hitman hiring sites, etc. The content of these sites may negatively impact your psychological well-being.
Now, let’s talk about the ways of visiting the dark web safely
How to Visit the Dark Web Safely?
You can visit the dark web securely with a secure and trustworthy VPN or a special tool such as the Tor browser. VPNs are a convenient way to browse the internet securely on any platform, such as Windows, Android, and iOS.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
VPNs are virtual networks that connect you to an encrypted tunnel for secure internet browsing. It hides your IP address and protects you from all kinds of cyber threats like hacking, phishing, cookie poisoning, etc.
VPNs also protect your connection from prying eyes by encrypting your connection with strong security and anonymity. It can protect your visit to the dark web.
However, avoid free VPNs at all costs due to their weak security, data collection, and privacy issues. Free VPNs leave you vulnerable to the dangers of the dark web.
Tor is the safer way to browse the dark web for better security and anonymity.
The Tor Project, a non-profit organization that provides online privacy and freedom, developed this tool. It connects you to the Tor network and uses multi-hop servers, then uses advanced algorithms to change your IP address randomly.
That’s why it becomes harder for hackers to trace your location and personal details. Tor browser also protects you from downloading malicious software. It’s recommended that you use the Tor browser whenever you need to access the dark web.
What Websites Can You Find On the Dark Web?
You can find both legal and illegal websites on the dark web. For example, there are websites on child abuse, drugs, firearms, satanism, occult, etc. These sites are hard to find as they are not indexed in search engines.
There are specific search dark web-based engines you need to use to find these websites. Similarly, you can find legal websites on the dark web, which come with a .onion domain extension.
For instance, Duckduckgo offers a dark web version of their search engines for people who want to browse and search on the dark web without being tracked.
How Can I Check If My Info Leaked On the Dark Web?
There are many online tools available where you can check whether your email address and passwords are leaked on the dark web or not. Some VPNs also support dark web monitoring features to check for leaks and notify immediately upon data breach.
The dark web is a dangerous place to visit if you don’t know enough about it. You cannot prevent the danger if you can’t see it or know it. Nevertheless, you may be required to visit the dark web even if you don’t want to. In that case, either use a strong, secure, and trustworthy VPN or use the Tor browser.
Interesting Related Article: “Tackling Cybersecurity Challenges with Penetration Testing“