How To Use the Dark Web Responsibly

Photo of author

( — June 23, 2022) — There is no doubt that the dark web is an interesting place if not the most “interesting” area of the internet, for lack of a better word. Using the dark web at all can raise eyebrows, let alone talking about using that “backroom” of the internet “responsibly.” Such is the reputation of the “shady” corner of the internet. However, the dark web also gets a very “bad rep” and is not necessarily that dark, either, depending on what it is used for. For this reason, it is a good idea to learn how to use it responsibly.

Over the years, times in the technology space have changed a lot with a much more open and freer internet at our disposal, a.k.a the “democratization” of information and the flow of information. This internet right now is a completely different experience from the internet of a decade ago (even five years ago.) Such is the pace of technological change and the evolution of cyberspace. Times have also affected the general public’s awareness of something called data privacy. People are much more cautious with how their data is shared, and for good reason. The dark web area of the internet, for instance, is known to be practically the only space where users can exist anonymously. That creates a benefit and a problem, in that both privacy-conscious users and criminals can communicate and share data over the dark web. 

What is the Dark Web?

The dark web is an area of the internet that is not accessible with your run-of-the-mill browsers such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or others. These browsers can access what is known as the “clear web” (also known as the surface web). The clear web is anything from the Google search engine that you use, YouTube, Amazon, and the rest that you browse every day. 

The dark web is a completely different ball game, and most people shudder at the thought of it because of its dark reputation. In fact, regular search engines cannot even index the dark web. To access the dark web, you need a specialized browser known as Tor (The Onion Router) that can access “.onion” domains. Their official website states the following: “Tor Browser prevents someone watching your connection from knowing what websites you visit. All anyone monitoring your browsing habits can see is that you’re using Tor. RESIST FINGERPRINTING TorBrowser aims to make all users look the same, making it difficult for you to be fingerprinted based on your browser and device information.” 

What does this description mean for you, exactly? This means that, if you download the freely available Tor browser, you are not broadcasting information about yourself, your device, and what you are looking at (fingerprinting). Once you have Tor, you can connect to domains that function on the “Onion” network which is a specially enciphered type of network that relays information across multiple computers. They are called “onions” because of the several layers involved. The Tor browser, for that reason, takes ten times longer to launch than a regular browser. This is completely different from the internet we use every day because your browsing is completely anonymized from end to end when you use Tor. 

As far as what can be found on the dark web, there is a plethora of various information out there. This can be anything from beneficial information for the high-profile journalist to the illegal drugs trade (and worse things, too). Given the anonymity factor, it is no surprise that all kinds of things can be found on the dark web, but its reputation has been tainted due to the amount of illegal activity taking place there which has led to global law enforcement operations, and arrests, and more.

This does not mean that you will be monitored on the dark web the moment you access it if you are not accessing illegal material. In fact, you have a right to privacy as defined under several international laws, so you have a right to be anonymous. For these reasons, it is important to understand how exactly to be safe and mind the dark web properly.

How to Be Safe on the Dark Web?

Staying on the dark web means getting into a few new habits that you may not practice at the moment. First of all, before anything, forget to try to access any illegal material on the dark web even for the sake of curiosity. You may have seen YouTube videos about vloggers accessing the dark web’s illegal corners, or heard about things like the “hidden Wiki” list. It is advisable to avoid visiting any dark web onion links that are not verified and safe and legal on internet communities such as Reddit or others. 

As far as being safe goes, this means primarily protecting your internet connection from attacks and malicious ads on the dark web. Your devices are not set up to have airtight security by default, so there are a few things you should do on the technical side of things. First of all, you will have to protect your internet connection with a premium VPN (Virtual Private Network) before you connect to Tor. Secondly, grab a good premium anti-malware or antivirus solution that can scan your browsing in real-time and catch any malware that may find its way towards you via malicious ads. 

Other than these tips, just remember that common-sense rules overall. Do not communicate with anyone you do not know on the dark web, never share personal information about yourself there, and strictly avoid browsing any illegal material.

The dark web is a great place to find academic material, chat with your friends or colleagues under complete anonymity (and share information), use anonymous email services, access torrent files, participate in select chat boards and forums, and much more. As long as you are careful, have the proper cybersecurity tools, and use common sense you will find that the dark web has a lot to offer.