Have you ever scrolled through the search results returned by Google and felt like, argh…this is too much?
Too much content and it keeps on getting updated. What if I told you that what Google returns as results is just but the tip of the iceberg.
That there is much more content that is somewhere in an unsearchable web.
Better yet, what if I told you that there is a way of unlocking this ‘invisible web’? Grab a cup of coffee and let me break down these interesting facts about the invisible deep web.
The deep web explained
The deep web is that part of the internet whose content is not indexed by search engines. The dark web is part of the deep web and exists in darknets. Darknets are proxy networks.
The dark web has bulks of data that for various reasons is never exposed to the public. Some of the information on this web belongs to large corporate organizations and governments. This content entails details such as medical research reports and financial records. They are protected from sufficing on search engines using powerful firewalls.
Accessing the deep web
Using the dark web can be a bit complicated. Most of the content there is not meant for public view. The dark web runs on private servers meaning that they can only be accessed through certain means. The means used do allow for anonymity.
On a Tor browser, you can be able to access the content available on .onion, one of the domains on the dark web. It’s worth noting that things change fast on the dark web. That an onion link that used to work might no longer do and this might be caused by a number of reasons. Finding alternative links might be quite challenging as well. As such, many inexperienced Tor users find themselves feeling lost and inhibited in the vastness of the dark web. We understand the struggle, so here’s an updated list of the best .onion sites.
How to browse the dark web safely
As already mentioned, using Tor (The Onion Router) is one of the ways to access the dark web URLs. Tor connections are encrypted allowing users from all over the world to browse the .onion content anonymously.
Get the Tor Browser
Download and install the Tor browser from their official website. The browser is available in versions that are compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux.
To avoid downloading versions that might spam your device with malware or spyware, refrain from downloading this browser from third party websites.
Adding a VPN security layer
The Tor website grants you anonymity while browsing the dark web. However, you need to understand what this means. Any spy agent on your network will not be able to see your activities on the Tor network but they will surely be able to know that you are using it
Many internet service providers and government agencies are against it. Using Tor simply raises eyebrows. Never mind that your activities could be harmless. To mask your activities from any spy, you can seek refuge in a VPN.
A Virtual Private Network will encrypt all the traffic that is sent or received on your network. You will be able to choose a server of choice from the ones that are available with your VPN service provider.
You can then route your traffic to appear like it is coming from the IP address of the server as opposed to yours. This helps to emphasize your anonymity while browsing the .onion websites on the dark web.
Only access correct .onion URLs
Websites on the dark web rarely use https. Therefore, verifying the legitimacy of a website can appear challenging. Only use the correct and verified URL on your Tor browser. Since it’s not under close regulation, it is very easy to fall victim to phishing scams.
Better beware, scammers are everywhere; even on the dark web.
What happens when you access a .onion URL on Tor
If you already have a VPN in place, the activity will be tunneled through the VPNs server. This signal will be encrypted making it invisible to the ISP. The request to access the Tor node will then be redirected to other subsequent nodes. This helps strengthen anonymity and wiping off any footprints that can be used as your trace-back.
VPN over Tor
In this method, the signal is first sent to the Tor network through the VPN. Though it is still used by some subscribers, its efficacy is not guaranteed. This is why, as the signal is sent from your device to the Tor network, your ISP can detect the efforts to establish a connection to a Tor node.
While this might not be an issue in some countries, it can land you on the wrong side of the law in others. VPN over Tor is a viable option for users who have trust issues with the VPN provider.
That the ISP can still see your activity is seen as a major disadvantage by many users.
Tor over VPN
This is a largely accepted method. It involves connecting to a VPN service before attempting to establish a connection on the Tor browser. Here, Tor works on what it’s best at; that is anonymity. The VPN, on the other hand, tightens privacy.
In this method, your request is tunneled to the VPN server where your real IP address is masked.
With a variety of servers, VPNs allow for virtual geo-relocations which makes it difficult for spies to track Tor requests back to you.
From the VPN server, your Tor request is transferred to the relevant relays where it is eventually matched with the appropriate websites. The collection of the appropriate websites will reflect in your search results and you are good to go.
The dark web is home to lots of informative and interesting content. It’s a place where internet freedom is real. It’s a platform that allows for open discussions, no fear of prosecutions. That said, accessing it calls for extra caution. If something doesn’t add up about a URL or Website, shut it down and run for your life. For any payments; (even on platforms that sound legit), never use your credit or debit cards.