What Is the Dark Web and What Does it Mean for You?
In the online world, there is something that holds a myth-like place in people's minds. There are not many things left out there that are dark and mysterious, not very well-understood, and a little intimidating to outsiders. This place is, of course, is the dark web. If you are like most people, you have heard of the dark web but do not actually know anything about it besides that illegal things take place there. For the most part, you never have to worry about the dark net. It will not bother you if you do not bother it. Some people worry about their information ending up on the dark web, however. Learn a little more about this strange place and what it means for you.
What Is the Dark Web?
As you probably know, the internet is a system of information that exists across many computers and servers so one person can access information placed online by another person. People on the dark web frequently call the internet “Clearnet” because it is unencrypted. This essentially means it is free and easy to access.
The dark net, in contrast, is restricted and encrypted. You need special programs or configurations to access the dark web. Much of the it is hosted by peer-to-peer networks, rather than large servers like most of the regular internet, although some sites on the dark web are still hosted by the same kinds of large servers.
It is important to understand that the dark web and the deep web are two different things, despite the similar names. These two parts of the internet have been notoriously confused, both due to the name and the fact that neither can be readily accessed using traditional web browsing programs.
The deep web simply refers to any sites that are not indexed, which means search engines do not pull up results for them. Many online banks use non-indexed pages for their inner workings, and any content that you must pay to view is also considered part of the deep web. To understand the distinction, remember that the deep web is simply not indexed, while people have purposefully and actively made it difficult to access the dark web.
What Happens on the Dark Web?
The reputation the dark web has for hosting all sorts of illegal activity is completely true. This is the primary reason dark web hosters go to such great lengths to make it inaccessible. Another aspect is that nearly everyone on the dark web is anonymous, which makes them feel safe performing illegal acts. Of course, there are also some perfectly legal things that exist on the dark web, too.
Some of the actions that take place on the dark web, both legal and illegal, include the following:
- Phishing – This is a particular kind of scam with the purpose of gathering personal information.
- Bitcoin Sites – Sites dedicated to the mining and trading of cryptocurrency are common. This is an example of a legal function on the dark web.
- Hacking – There are many hackers who sell their services on the dark web.
- Pornography – The dark web is host to types of pornography that are illegal.
- Social Media – The dark web actually has its own set of social media, like a twisted version of Facebook.
You may have heard that there are hitman-hiring services on the dark web or sites where you can view live deaths. Fortunately, all these rumors are nothing more than myths, and nothing of the sort actually takes place on the dark net.
How to Stay Safe
So now that you know what the dark web is, you are probably worried about it doing you harm. It is true that users on the dark web do try to steal personal information, and especially credit card information. This is not something most people need to worry about, but if you are worried, then there are some things you can do to protect yourself.
The first and most basic thing you can do is simply never visit the dark web. Most of its scams target people browsing the dark web, so you will never see them if you do not access it. Dark web users rely on inexperienced people getting into more than they can handle, so do not fall for the trap.
Always carefully consider who you are giving your information to. Every single time you enter your credit card information, or any other kind of information, double check that the site is safe and reliable. Never give information to a site you do not trust. Keep an eye out for phishing scams or fake sites that mimic sites you do trust. You should also avoid storing your financial information online, and opt to enter it every time you make a purchase even if it is slightly inconvenient.
Dark Web Scans
There are also some services that scan the dark web to find if your information is out there somewhere. This can be a good option, but you have to be careful. The search needs to be done safely, or the search itself may be what exposes your information. Also, fake dark web scan services may simply be a scam to get your information. Before you pay for a scan, read many reviews to be sure the service you have chosen is reliable and trustworthy. It can be worth it, but only if you take the proper precautions before taking the plunge.