2020 saw the dark web celebrate its 20-year anniversary. Over the past two decades, it has become a popular place for black market traders, activists, and political dissidents to gather. But, it has also become an anonymous haven for ordinary folk with almost a third of North American’s accessing the dark web on a daily basis.
To many, the dark web is a hive of criminals selling everything from drugs to Netflix login details. But for others, the dark web is a complete mystery.
The dark web exists in the depths of online content. What most use every day is the clear net, websites indexed by search engines. It may seem huge, but the clear net makes up just four percent of the internet.
The rest is known as the deep web, of which just five percent is the dark web. This small world consists of thousands of websites, everything from illegal porn and drug markets to legal discussion groups and chess clubs.
Many large corporations are already represented on the dark web, including Facebook, and torrent services such as Pirate Bay are alive and kicking. Events like the Arab spring were organized on the dark web as it allowed people to communicate freely, out of sight from the authorities. The dark web gives people the ability to remain anonymous and fly below the radar of governments and law-enforcement agencies.
Like any underground network, the dark web holds a number of dangers that anyone considering entering this world needs to be aware of.
Personal data is big business on the dark web. Banking login details can be picked up for $35 and a full range of documents providing enough information to steal an identity is available for as little as $1,500. Your information is valuable to cybercriminals so be careful of what you reveal when surfing the dark web.
Although the dark web contains plenty of legal websites that many of us would happily browse, there’s a much seedier side to this dark world. Users should be aware that there’s always a chance of stumbling across something you’ll wish you hadn’t seen. Weapons, drugs, child pornography, snuff movies. Unfortunately, it’s all lurking around on the dark web. Be careful where you tread and you can hopefully avoid this disturbing and illegal content.
Malicious software is another huge marketplace. Trojans and malware can be bought and sold for bitcoins on many websites. But there’s also plenty of keyloggers, ransomware, and botnet malware hiding all over the dark web. It’s easy to make one mistake and end up with an infection giving hackers control of your device and access to your personal data.
Being careful about the sites you visit and the data you share can help avoid disturbing content and identity theft, but malware is another matter. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself before entering the dark web. Install high-quality antivirus and antimalware software to catch nasty critters before they infect your device. Use a VPN for improved security and an added layer of privacy.
The dark web is an intriguing place and somewhere we can happily remain anonymous. Just be sure to protect yourself and your device before safely delving into its depths.