What is the Dark Web?

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Dark Web consists of the sites that you won’t find with Google and won’t access without special software. Unindexed by conventional search engines and designed to be hidden from the general public, Dark Web is a part of the darknet that attracts many people seeking secret and not always legal online content. 

To access that, users have to obtain specific browser configurations authorizing them to view pages that, believe us, should often be kept away from children and sensitive persons. From weaponry to illicit drugs, from fetish porn to killer services — Dark Web is full of mysteries about different shock content. Which of these rumors are valid and what’s really on there, let’s find out in our Dark Web guide right now.

What the Difference Between Dark Web, Deep Web & Surface Web?

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Surface Web

If to compare Internet to the ocean, then we splash on its surface. Therefore, our Internet is called Surface Web. It contains our favorite sites like Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Reddit, we communicate through it and search for stuff, naively believing that on the Internet there are already no things that can surprise us. To make you at least approximately aware of the entire volume of the World Wide Web, think about the fact that Google, the largest search engine, covers no more than 4-16% of all information contained in the network. Spooky, isn’t it? The rest of websites that neither Google nor other search engines can index belong to the Deep Web. And the Deep Web’s abysmal places with unknown eerie creatures are called the Dark Web.

Although the surface Internet is a relatively safe place, you may still run a risk of malicious outer impact. We’re talking about malware ads, tracking software, phishing websites, inbuilt mining scripts, etc. To protect your personal info and your device always enable an advertisement blocker while surfing the web.

Deep Web

Below the surface of the digital sea, there is a deep network (deep web). There you will find abandoned and left unattended websites gathering dust without moderation and maintenance, databases of research offices, government databases and other things that are not intended for the public, simply saying that are not indexed by search robots.

Most of the information on the Deep Web is safe and harmless. Moreover, Deep Web involves the significant, about 90%, portion of the entire Internet (Dark Web involves no more than 0,1%), it contains over 550 billion documents, while the surface Internet contains only about 1 billion documents. The information on the Deep Web is often absolutely legal and available, it is simply inaccessible, it can not be found with the standard searching request. Nevertheless, your standard web browser is able to recognize and open the Deep Web resource you do not need anonymizers and other third-party programs for this purpose.

Dark Web

In contrast to Deep Web dark side of the internet is a dangerous place. Illicit substances, weapons, counterfeit money, stolen cards, fake degrees of study or even passports, cloned debit cards, tools for hacking safes and even heavy weapons are traded in the dark network. And the things listed above are still relatively benign. The deepest recesses of the Dark Web can truly shock you and cause serious psychological trauma. But more about that later.

Neither of the dark web content you can reach from your default browser. The issue is all of their URLs contain a .onion special-use top level domain suffix, therefore, you can get dark web access only via TOR browser.

History of the Dark Web

What started as a university thesis project back in 2000, gave birth to a new concept of Internet anonymity, called Freenet. Ian Clarke, the author of this work, saw some major drawbacks of WWW usage at that time, pointing out to his tutors that all communications happening online are subject to surveillance and this has to change. He released Freenet as software for anonymous chatting and storing files which then raised interest in the US Naval Research Lab. With their support, Freenet quickly became a communication tool for opposition politicians, journalists, army intelligence, and anyone else willing to keep their disclosure. By 2002 it grew into the Tor Network.
Tor Network’s code was later released under a free license, allowing cyberprivacy enthusiasts around the world to create compatible sites and tools. In 2008, Tor Browser was launched which kickstarted mass usage of the Dark Web, as now it became simple to enter it from any home PC. Since then, the Dark Web keeps on growing and started being known for its illegal applications. By today, an estimated 55,000 sites are using the .onion domain, and sites like Pirate Bay or Silk Road became world-known because of the huge media attention over the legal prosecution.

How to Get on the Dark Web

The only tool you need to access the spookiest depths of the Internet is a suitable web browser — the one that supports Dark Web directories. While the choice of Dark Web browsers is very limited, you can still take a look at a couple of different options. Perhaps, the most famous and at the same time the most convenient tool for this is Tor Browser. This browser roots your traffic through the Tor network, allowing you to visit all sites, including .onion domains. Tor Browser belongs to the Tor Project and was originally developed as the main platform for accessing the Dark Web. It also has the native support of different operating systems: you can install Tor Browser on Windows, Mac, Linux, or Android devices. 
Those seeking a more secure solution that guarantees that no traces of Dark Web usage were left on PC, can also take a look at some less known alternatives to Tor Browser. For instance, Whonix is a browser that combines Tor’s source code and an additional virtual machine for better security. Whonix is not a standalone app but rather a part of Whonix OS that runs inside a virtual machine. A similar principle is used by Subgraph — the OS that adds up to your online confidentiality by using technologies for kernel hardening, filesystem and meta-proxy encryption, and so on. Subgraph OS has all the basic tools you need but, most importantly, their Dark Web browser is so good that it even received praise from Edward Snowden for its outstanding security. More advanced users can try the own darknet of Invisible Internet Project (I2P) that also has its plugin for accessing Tor, called Orchid Outproxy. I2P makes tracking your actions online almost impossible and offers a couple of cool extra functions when compared to Tor, although it is quite hard to set up for a beginner.

How the TOR Browser Works?

TOR, which is usually referred as the dark web software, is an anonymity tool used by people seeking privacy and struggling with censorship on the Internet. The term itself stands for The Onion Router (later we will explain the meaning of onion in this name).

How does TOR work?

When a TOR user wants to visit a site, the TOR software visits the TOR directory where it obtains addresses for the TOR relay. The TOR software on the user’s computer then routes the user’s effort to view a site through a random set of TOR relays donated by volunteers. The exact number of routers in the TOR network is for certain unknown the estimated number is more than 6000.
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At the first relay, the user’s computer’s IP address is replaced by the address of the relay. The next relay only sees the address of the previous relay. No single relay knows the whole route, providing strong anonymity protection. Using other tools, many users will encrypt the actual data they’re sending and receiving.

There are plenty of Tor clients for Android as well. So if you desire anonymity, you can do a web search and install an application that fits your needs. However, despite the Tor’s NoScript plugin it still doesn’t block all types of ads. To surf websites from Tor browser without seeing ads install pop up ad blocker for Android.

For example, the user reaches its target topsecret.com, but topsecter doesn’t know the user’s computer digital address. It only knows the address of the last relay that handled the user’s request. If the same user passes to a different site, the process is repeated but with another random chain of relays. As you can see, we wrapped the original data in multiple layers of encryption like an onion. This prevents anyone from aggregating data on an anonymous person’s activities and interfering with their data.

How to Access the Dark Web Safely

Safety on the Dark Web has always been a controversial topic. On the one hand, with Tor, you go online through several layers of protection which ensures a higher level of confidentiality and prevents any attempts to track you. But, at the same time, the content one might find on the Dark Web can often be described as just the opposite of “safe”. While it’s up to you what exactly is there to find on the darknet, we recommend that you follow some simple technical advice to ensure that your data and your device remain secure:

  1. Always use VPN. Even downloading and installing Tor Browser or similar programs can be punished by law in some countries, not to say purchasing something from the darknet. You don’t want your actual location and personal data to be linked to using these technologies. Tor-over-VPN is a common practice that helps people to stay anonymous.
  2. Only install verified Dark Web browsers. There are plenty of noname programs that promise everything that Tor does and even more but you never know which potential threats they might contain. Whenever you decide to choose a browser, download it from the official website to avoid the bundles infected with malware and trackers.

Be careful once you’re there. Leaving traces of your data can be very dangerous when it comes to shopping or communicating on the darknet. Stick to using anonymous email addresses, crypto wallets, and strong password generators.

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Since the connection with the resources of the Dark Web passes through dozens of relays, the speed of connection leaves much to be desired. And, although TOR is actively working on solving this problem, don’t expect your internet to be as fast as it used to be. It’s impossible to use search engines including especially designed for use within the Dark Web. They show no relevance and their effectiveness is out of the question. The most popular and in turn the quickest method of navigation in the Dark Web is through the TOR resource directory. We can’t spread such links on our website, just as we can’t spread detailed guide on accessing the Dark Web as it’s against our politics. Thus, if you want to experience a thrill you’ve never known before, you can find all practical information via the clear net.

Dark Web Tools and Services

First of all, you have to be aware that browsing the darknet is way more difficult than the surface web. For obvious reasons, Dark Web sites are not searchable with the conventional search engines like Google so it takes a good deal of effort to find stuff you need. However, some tools can simplify your way of getting the right sites and filter out unreliable ones.

You always start with a browser to use the Dark Web with. While some even require running a separate virtual OS, pretty much all Dark Web browsers are based on Tor technology. Tor ensures that each request will go through several nodes so it can’t be traced. Don’t attempt accessing the .onion sites without a special web browser as this won’t bring you anything but troubles.

There are search engines that can also navigate the darknet. DuckDuckGo is a popular option, as it works in all layers of the Web and its functionality resembles the one from Google. Note, that even with this web browser you can only see the content of Dark Web pages when you open them through Tor or a similar browser. There are many alternatives, like Torch, Candle, Recon, or Not Evil, that you can try as well. But DuckDuckGo has not become a default Tor search engine by accident — overall it does its job the best and remains safe at all times.
Finally, once going on the Dark Web you will soon get to know some of the important sites out there. The Hidden Wiki, for example, is a good collection of darknet links, listing everything from shopping to entertainment to financial services. Use with caution, though: just like on Wikipedia, everyone can edit The Hidden Wiki pages meaning there is a potential for harmful links. r/deepweb thread on Reddit can also give you a good hint about the Dark Websites that are worth visiting. Going from site to site takes time, as URLs are mostly just random combinations of numbers and letters. But that’s the only way for the information on the darknet to stay away from the attention of random surface web users and governments

What’s on the Dark Web?

Here we reach the most exciting, interesting, and at the same time terrifying part of our article. Content in the dark web is as diverse as it is on the open Internet, not all information in the hidden Internet is harmful or illegal. Depends on what for you were looking. But unlike the open Internet, the dark web contains things that will shock an average person, like me and you.
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Who uses the Dark Web, and why?

The Dark Web’s offer of anonymity is definitely a huge draw for people who are looking to procure drugs, weapons, and other illicit items, but it’s also gained notoriety as a safe haven of sorts for people who need to share information but can’t share it safely. Like journalists, for example. The journalists’ vocation is to find secret information but not everyone wants their secrets to be publicized, and in such case, a real threat looms over the journalists’ life.

According to statistics, 1305 journalists were killed over the 1992 to 2018 around the globe because of their investigations. And the dark internet might be the only way for journalists to disclose information without revealing themselves. Another example is people persecuted for their political views as opponents to the authorities.

The Tor Project discourages the use of extra browser add-ons including ads blocking extensions because they are not vetted and might betray your anonymity. Luckily, you can install a desktop version of functional ad blocker for Windows and surf secret web without seeing banners.

However, what perks the black web has for an average internet user with no political background or press card? Take a look at this list:

  • Completely anonymous mailbox

If you are unbearably anxious to send letters and leave no traces or you are obsessed with the theory of “big brother watching”, you can easily register for your purposes a completely anonymous mailbox and correspond from the tank. But be aware as those mailboxes are a favorite way of communications of drug dealers, spies, hackers, spammers, bots, etc which puts certain restrictions on the service.

  • Sharing

There are plenty of places in the Dark Web where you can temporarily host an image or a piece of text. Majority of file sharing websites are free and allow to set a timer which counts down the amount of time left before a file will be erased.

  • Torrent-trackers

In the Dark Web you can find mirrors of different popular warez-sites like Pirate Bay, for example. Of course, it’s still illegal so use it at your own risk.

  • Books

Still illegal just as torrent-trackers though. The amount of books is not very decent, and the situation with new acquisitions is tight, but you might find there something interesting and rare if look deep.

  • Chatting

Going to hidden service just to chitchat is definitely a hobby case as there are enough resources in the clearnet where you can anonymously register and chat about whatever your heart desires. On the secret internet people usually discuss certain business. Anyway, you can register on the local social web Galaxy2 and find there interesting topics and meet new people.

  • Online stores

Online stores and trading platforms are so far the main use of TOR hidden services. Of course, 90% of all goods are just illegal at best and would pose a danger to others at worst. Though Reddit users claimed they found sellers who sold absolutely legal things like carrots and pretzels. All deals in the Dark Web are made in bitcoins thus remember this if you’re going to buy some pastry via TOR.

Horrendous, illegal and bizarre things on the Dark Web

Warning: the information below contains really disturbing facts. If you are easy to scare or have a weak stomach or heart better skip this part!
  • Drugs

Any types of drugs from marijuana-infused brownies to LSD and heroin can be found on the Dark Web markets. All transactions are made in bitcoins, just as well.

  • Contract killers

Dark Web is the best place to hire a killer and get rid of a person so that no one has ever figured out who’s an actual customer. However, price lists are impressive. In addition, the Hitman Network has its own peculiar code of honor: “no children under 16 and no top 10 politicians”.

  • Armour and ammunition

In case if you don’t want or can’t afford to hire a professional killer, you can buy the preferred gun and make things done by yourself. On the Dark Web’s armour black-markets there are enough things to equip your own army.

  • Thematic forums for planning rapes, murders and abduction

Honestly, we personally don’t want to believe such communities really exist, as so terrifying things discussed there. Forum participants share their desires, plans and experiences, ask for advice where it’s more convenient to kidnap children and which drug is the best to stupefy and disorient the victim. The rules of some such forums indicate that in order to access VIP pages it is required to provide a picture of the child tortured by you.

  • Recruitment into ISIS and other terrorist organizations

Due to its privacy, Dark Web has become a favorite place for various terrorist organizations. ISIS reportedly use a hidden network for communication, planning, and recruitment of new members into their ranks.

  • Bestiality

On the expanse of the dark web, there is a website, for ethical reasons we can not name it, which promotes all perverted ways of mutilating and rape of animals. The photos and videos of bestialities are uploaded to the website to satisfy sick desires of the local audience. Most of the victims are small, fragile animals, like rabbits and puppies, which are tortured to their death.

  • Necrophilia websites

Another sick-sick disturbing website, which we also don’t want to publicize, stores photos of killed black people. The front page of the website mentions “Race War is happening, invest in a *name of the website* now”. This website is very horrifying both on racial as well as humanitarian grounds.

  • Human experiments

Many people think that this community is a fake, and we’re desperate to believe it really is, because if everything written on their website is true, then mankind has run out all chances for any redemption. Even the main page of the website mentions “Not all humans are equal for some of them are born superior to others.” As considered by creators of the website people who one step below are homeless and unregistered people with no roots or connections. The list of gruesome experiments includes food and water starvation, radiation tolerance in infants, bleach tolerance in a fetus.

  • Snuff

Snuff is a pornographic film in which a victim is raped, tortured, and killed on a camera. No comments.

  • Red rooms

As of today, no one can credibly prove whether red rooms do exist, as things allegedly happen there are too violent even in comparison to the rest of this list. According to rumors red rooms stream real-time mutilating and disfiguring of a victim and whoever wishes can participate in it by donating a couple of bitcoins. Another reason why red rooms considered to be a myth is a slow speed connection in TOR which is not enough for real-time streams.

Is The Dark Web a Safe Haven For Criminal Activity?

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Well, despite the difficulties in tracing Dark Web is not impenetrable. Legal justice still gets both arms dealers, and drug dealers, and traffickers of other prohibited substances, and their accomplices. The most famous detention took place in 2011, when Ross Ulbricht, owner of the largest drug marketplace Silk Road, was arrested. The second big case was the detention and arrest of Irishman Eric Eoin Marques, the founder, and owner of Tor Freedom Hosting, in 2013. Most of the major Dark Web sources, including web-distributors of child porn, were hosted on the Marques’s hosting. The warrant alleged that Marques was “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet”. The lawsuit against him is still underway since Ireland has not yet given permission for his extradition to the United States.

The most shocking case of detention in the Dark Web was the arrest of Peter Gerard Scully in 2015. Scully was charged with producing and selling snuff videos and porn involving children. Scully originated in Australia left for the Philippines in 2012th where he started his flat-out terrible activity. Most of the children he took from dysfunctional families on the pretext of providing them a better life and education. Though, kidnappings are also not uncommon in his biography. The youngest “heroine” of his film was only 18 months old at the time of the shooting. The Scully’s case was so groundbreaking that the Philippines authorities consider returning the death penalty specifically for such situation. At the time of writing, the lawsuit against Scully was still underway.

Is it illegal?

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The mere being in the Dark Web is not an offense. But you might face a criminal penalty for any illegal activities, such as the purchases of drugs, armor or anything even worse. Laws are the same on the Dark Web as they are in the real world.

The dark web can be a very dangerous place for any unprepared person. You may unconsciously become a part of someone’s illegal activity or catch a nasty virus. Unfortunately, AdLock can’t protect you from such kind of dangers we’re able only to warn you about potential threats on the dark web. And if despite everything written above you still curious about visiting it we have only one advice for you: be safe.

FAQ

How Do You Find Out If Your Information Is on the Dark Web?

There’s no shortage of news about new data breaches happening every now and then even to the biggest, most respected companies in the world. Anyone can fall victim to this, as we put a lot of our personal and financial data on the surface web every day. Lots of this data ends up on sale on the darknet, where one can buy everything from stolen credit cards and passwords to entire new identities. Finding out that your data is being sold is not an easy task, though.

Multiple software providers offer so-called “Dark Web monitoring” or “scan” services that are designed to search for your data in the known darknet marketplaces. Sometimes included in the antivirus programs package, they can also notify you about the potential threats to your accounts, passwords, and data. This helps you to know the right moment to add an extra security layer to your online profiles and prevent your data from being used by someone else.

What is even more important is to take care of your data before they get in the hands of criminals. This involves keeping your passwords updated, your browser safe from malicious add-ons, and your device free of viruses and malware. A good app that can detect harmful links and spyware, like AdLock, in combination with a quality antivirus will do just great in that sense.

What Do You Do If Your Information Is on the Dark Web?

Once the security check confirms that some of your data is on the Dark Web, it is time to take action immediately. The sites or accounts that have been compromised should not be used further until you change your login data — and please, let it be a different password from the one you use on other services. Strong password generators can help you with this one. Once you are in the compromised account, try to kick out all other devices on unknown IPs from there, if you have such an option.

In general, try to prevent bad actors from using your accounts and data further, based on what type of service that is. For example, when it comes to your online banking, make sure to freeze all your cards and report the security breach to your bank immediately, before anyone else can withdraw all the money. In extreme cases like this, reporting about this Dark Web data breach to the customer service or even to police would make sense, as then you will give them a chance to react quickly and revert the transactions when needed.

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