IT Best Practices

What Is the Dark Web, and Is It Safe to Visit?

The “dark web” sounds really ominous, and it kind of is. It is all the places that search engines like Google do not reach. And it requires Tor, a browser that “routes your web page requests through a series of proxy servers operated by thousands of volunteers around the globe, rendering your IP address unidentifiable and untraceable.” In an article at CSO magazine, Darren Guccione describes what it is actually like to use the dark web.

A Hive of Scum and Villainy

The dark web, unsurprisingly, is packed with illegal activity. You can buy stolen account data and credit card numbers, guns and drugs, counterfeit money, eternal Netflix accounts, and things that get into completely disgusting territory. Or you can just play chess there, which is apparently a thing too. But the point is that, whatever you are doing, you are doing it anonymously.

The websites themselves are equally secretive, frequently changing their address (which is often a scramble of nonsense with a “.onion” extension at the end) in order to protect themselves from DDoS attacks or the law. Amusingly, dark web search engines exist, but they do not work very well for obvious reasons. What is also unsurprising is that bitcoin is the major currency of dark web transactions, because it is trustworthy and does not rely upon knowing people’s identities.

Guccione takes care to explain that the dark web is not all bad though. For instance, it is very useful in authoritarian countries where people are looking to speak freely without fear of government surveillance. Here are some more upsides, though still not necessarily all legal:

If you want to learn all about privacy protection or cryptocurrency, the dark web has plenty to offer. There are a variety of private and encrypted email services, instructions for installing an anonymous operating system and advanced tips for the privacy-conscious.

There’s also material that you wouldn’t be surprised to find on the public web, such as links to full-text editions of hard-to-find books, collections of political news from mainstream websites and a guide to the steam tunnels under the Virginia Tech campus.

So yes, the dark web is relatively safe to visit, as long as you do not plan on actually buying anything. If so, you are rolling the dice, even if you choose to buy something legal; websites are notorious for taking your money and running.

For additional information, you can view the original article here:

John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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