There are many misconceptions, misunderstandings, and myths surrounding the dark web. First, let’s talk definitions. The web is typically divided into three zones: the clear web, deep web, and dark web. The clear web refers to anything online that can be indexed by search engines. The deep web refers to the content that cannot be indexed by search engines, such as content behind paywalls or login credentials. Finally, the dark web is made up of sites hosted on an anonymous overlay network and can only be accessed using special tools, like Tor (The Onion Router). Dark web URLs are easy to recognize, because the domains all end in “.onion.” Contrary to popular belief, many of the people who use the dark web are not criminals, and not all activity that takes place there is nefarious. There are dark web versions of many popular public websites and services. However, there is plenty of illicit activity on the dark web, and if you’re going to investigate that activity, you have to know what you’re getting into.

With all the mystery that surrounds the dark web, it can seem very complicated to log on and find what you’re looking for. This isn’t necessarily true. All you really need is Tor and an active internet connection, but there are some other things you should have to be as safe as possible when browsing the dark web. Use a VPN after connecting to Tor – this ensures that the operator of the guard node won’t know your real IP address and cannot identify you. Avoid streaming videos or downloading files – Tor helps you out here by proactively disabling Flash and Javascript. Ideally, all of your dark web activity should take place in a virtual environment isolated from your computer and network. Tools that detect malware and run security checks on anything you might be downloading are also a good idea, and a tool that does many of these things in one is an even better idea – might we suggest Nfusion?

So you’ve downloaded Tor, you’re all set with your security measures, and you’re on the dark web. Now what?

The dark web can be very difficult to navigate. Numerous resources list various dark web sites, markets, and forums. More nefarious sites aren’t listed and will likely require some sort of connection or invitation. There are various ways to find links to certain dark web sites, but always use precaution:

  • There is a high concentration of people on the dark web with your worst interests in mind. People will try to trick you, steal your most valuable information, and harm your computer, especially if you present yourself as new or inexperienced. Err on the side of mistrust, and never give out any personal information.
  • Even if you know where you’re going, be aware of opportunities for malware attacks and canary traps. These are designed to reveal your identity, damage your computer, or both. Be sure to have both safe browsing habits and proper protection through technology as a failsafe.
  • Going on the dark web isn’t illegal, but it is filled with many illegal things. The number one rule to remember is: Don’t let your guard down. Even with all technological precautions in place, always be aware of your own behavior and make sure you’re instituting best practices.

The dark web isn’t something to be afraid of. Ntrepid offers in-depth training in which you’ll learn more about terminology, tools, investigations, use cases, and more pertaining to the dark web. With the right tools, knowledge of best practices, and careful actions, you’ll be surfing like a pro in no time.