The Dark Web might be a more elusive part of the Internet, but it isn’t far out of reach. You can browse most of the Dark Web unhindered with the right browser or configuration. But what exactly is on the Dark Web, and what can you expect?
The short explanation is that you’ll find almost anything there. It’s like the Surface Web, where you can find information, buy products and services, or interact with others. The main difference is that anonymity is a more highly treasured commodity on the Dark Web.
Below are some of the things you can expect to come across.
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1. Dark Web Marketplaces
Marketplaces are a popular part of the Dark Web. Here, buyers and sellers can conduct deals on a unified platform like eCommerce on the Surface Web. The only difference is that you will likely find more marketplaces on the Dark Web that offer illegal goods.
Some typical examples of illegal items you can find include firearms, explosives, recreational drugs, and prescription drugs. The goods you’ll come across may even be digital, such as entire databases of personal or financial information.
Crypto has been a hot topic for years, so it should be no surprise that there are exchanges and crypto services on the Dark Web. You’ll find multiple websites offering these services and more – anything related to crypto.
Of course, many of these websites don’t fall under the purview of any government. Even on the Surface Web, many countries still struggle to regulate decentralized currency.
File and web hosting isn’t something new to most of us. However, did you know these services are also available on the Dark Web? They often allow more leeway to users and impose fewer restrictions. For example, many file-sharing websites on the Dark Web don’t care about the nature of your file content.
Web Hosting services are more streamlined and aimed at those who want to build a Dark Web presence. They include similar features to those on the Surface Web but often include a .onion domain for convenience.
You might be impressed that several legitimate companies dealing in Internet security have a Dark Web presence. Of course, they share the space with other companies that offer less-than-legal services of the same nature.
Examples of Security Services on the Dark Web
ExpressVPN (http://Expressobutiolem.onion): Express VPN is one of the most reputable Virtual Private Network brands, and it has a Dark Web presence.
Most of us use Social media websites to communicate with others. They’re an excellent venue to share information, ideas, knowledge, and experiences. On the Dark Web, you[‘ll find that social media platforms are similar. However, some social media platforms on the Dark Web allow not-so-legal topics and pursuits.
The most basic email services on the Dark Web share similarities to Gmail or Yahoo Mail. Yet you will also find many niche email services here that allow users to stay anonymous. These include “burner” email services or private email service providers.
There are several forms of directories and encyclopedias on the dark web. One form is a wiki, which is an open-source encyclopedia. Sites in this category collect information from many users and make it available for anyone to view.
Other forms are directories that simply collate lists. The sites will often organize these lists by category. For example, they may list image galleries, chatrooms, search engines, or anything else, specifically for the Dark Web.
Examples of Dark Web Directories and Encyclopedias
The Dark Web isn’t full of only illegal goods and services. It is full of valuable information and resources you won’t easily come across on the Surface Web. However, it’s also valid that surfing the Dark web can be somewhat riskier.
If you intend to play tourist on the Dark Web, ensure that you gear up with adequate Internet security apps and a VPN. More importantly, stay aware and, as far as possible, never share personal information on the Dark Web.
What kind of stuff is on the Dark Web?
You can find anything on the dark Web from that which is perfectly legal to dubious or downright illegal/immoral. Examples of these are official company websites (ExpressVPN), forums with few restrictions (4chan), or black markets (Darknet market) that sell anything under the sun.
What is sold on the dark web?
Anything that’s illegal or immoral is typically sold on the Dark Web. This includes guns, recreational drugs, illegal services (assassinations, hacking, etc.), stolen goods, cracked software, hacked credentials (passwords, credit card numbers, etc.), and even tools for use in cybercrime.
To increase your safety on dark websites always access them when using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service and ensure that you have Internet Security applications active. Aside from this, never divulge or provide websites or individuals encountered with personal information of any kind, including your email address.
When was Dark Web invented?
The term “Dark Web” was officially coined on 20th March 2000. It came with the introduction of the Freenet decentralized network system invented by Ian Clarke. The intention aimed at offering access to a network that was more difficult for official sources to spy or intrude upon.
Are .onion sites illegal?
No, .onion websites are not always illegal. They are simply domain names used by sites on the Dark Web. Some legal organizations have .onion versions of official websites, including Facebook and ExpressVPN. It is the content or services offered by some websites with the .onion domain that makes them illegal.
Is Tor really secure?
Tor is not completely secure. While the Tor network helps obfuscate device points of origin, the methodology is not foolproof. It is known to have multiple weaknesses including vulnerability to eavesdropping, traffic analysis attacks, mouse fingerprinting, and more.
Does Tor slow down internet?
Yes, Tor does slow down your Internet. Because of the number of nodes your data needs to pass through, Tor slows down Internet access considerably. The difference is akin to taking an express bus direct to your destination versus a regular bus which may route a longer distance and requires stops in between.
What's the best dark web search engine?
The best dark web search engine is DuckDuckGo. It emphasizes protecting searchers' privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results found in services such as Google. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines due to this focus.
Does Tor use DuckDuckGo?
Yes, DuckDuckGo is the default search engine used when installing the Tor Browser. Over the past few years, it’s been growing in popularity, with some users switching from Google to DuckDuckGo because they want more privacy.
Tor can hide your IP, but it mostly depends on your luck. The Tor network works like a maze, directing your connection along ever-changing paths to prevent a direct trace to your device. The network is operated by volunteers and can conceal a user's location and usage.
What happens if you go on the dark web?
The dark web is a tiny part of the internet, but it can be dangerous. There are many hackers, scammers, and other less desirable inhabitants. While there are some legitimate websites, others sell illegal items like drugs and weapons on the dark web.
Is the Dark Web a safe place?
The dark web is not safe, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. You need to take proper precautions like not sharing personal information, using a VPN, and having appropriate Internet Security applications.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.