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How to get access to dark web safely – 7 best privacy measures 

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How To Access To Dark Web Safely - A Complete Guide
Short Article Summary

There are a few tips for getting on the Dark Web quickly, but maintaining your privacy is challenging unless you know what to do. Here are all the quick security tips you can use to get on the dark web safely.

  1. Install Tor Compatible VPN – for better speed and max privacy with data encryption.
  2. Install Tor Browser – Although Tor is a reliable option, other Tor alternatives are available.
  3. Pairing Tails with Tor – a live version of Linux and a reliable mobile OS.
  4. Maintain Tor privacy settings – you can set them up at the “safest” level.
  5. Use a Virtual Machine – a combination of VPN, Tor, and Virtual machine for security.
  6. Change your browsing habits – avoid activities that might expose your identity or cause malware infections.

There are several misconceptions revolving around the dark and the deep web, starting from the fact that these terms are often intermingled. Although the deep web and the dark web are often used together, there are several differences through which both of them stand apart. The only similarity they share is that the dark and deep web are unindexed parts of the internet and require immense caution while accessing them. However, safe access to the dark or the deep web often seems to be a complex ordeal

Several journalists and whistleblowers frequently use the dark and deep web for legal purposes. But despite its popularity, gaining safe access to either the dark or deep web is not as complex as it seems. All you need to do is, gain an in-depth understanding of the risks surrounding both the dark web and the deep web and learn how to stay safe from them.

What is the dark web and the deep web? 

The internet comprises three parts the deep and the dark web reside in the deepest part of it. As mentioned above, most layman’s description of the dark and deep web is that they are the “unindexed” parts of the internet, meaning search engines like Google don’t index them. But apart from this, there are a lot more things that describe the deep web, the dark web, and the surface web:

Surface Web: The topmost layer of the internet is commonly accessible to people and searchable through standard search engines like Google. 

Deep Web: The deep web merely lies below the web surface and approximately 90% of all websites. It consists of databases and intranets and is known as the “hidden web.”

Dark web: The deepest part of the internet is only accessible through special browsers like Tor. It was designed to provide online anonymity. 

These three components make up the internet available in our lives today. While it may seem that the surface web only impacts us, the dark web and the deep web play a role in our lives, which you can understand by gaining more information this link.

How To Access Dark Web Safely (6 Tips)

Gaining safe access to the deep web is not a complex task. The deep web is a collection of databases that contains bank information, retirement fund details, social media account information, and other such data that is only accessible through passwords. Therefore, to access the deep web, you need passwords to those databases. 

Although there is no particular danger involved with browsing the deep web, it is still best to exercise caution. Since the deep web has sensitive information, it is best to ensure that information remains secure, and the best way to ensure that security is through a VPN. Using a VPN while accessing the deep web can help maintain online privacy and security through encryption. 

In contrast to the deep web, safely accessing the dark web is not as easy. The problem with the dark web is that, despite legal use, it also remains a hub of illicit activity. Therefore, while accessing the dark web, it is crucial to exercise immense caution. You can practice in the following ways. Here are the 6 ways that can help you access the dark web safely:

1. Install a VPN – First Layer of Security

VPNs are crucial when trying to access the dark web safely. A VPN helps you remain secure and anonymous since it encrypts your data and masks your IP address. This prevents the cyber criminals prowling on the dark web from snooping on your activity. 

Apart from that, due to the notorious reputation of the dark web, ISPs tend to track, monitor, and throttle the traffic of anyone who tries to access it. Amidst this, a VPN is exceedingly helpful since it helps bypass ISP throttling and prevents online snooping.

Quick List!

CyberGhost: it offers 7500+ servers around the world, works with torrenting, Netflix and also provides great privacy features. 45-day Free trial available www.cyberghost.com

NordVPN: its top-ranked VPN provider, 5000+ servers, all security features, works with Netflix, Torrenting, Tor, and ISP throttling – 30-day Free trial www.nordvpn.com.

Surfhark: It’s great with Netflix and torrenting, also can be used with bypassing ISP throttling, and has great privacy features. 3500+ servers and come with a 30-day free trial www.surfshark.com

ProtonVPN: it has 1400+ servers and is loaded with all privacy features. Works with Netflix, Torrenting, Tor and bypassing the ISP throttling. Free Version available www.protonvpn.com

ExpressVPN: it has 3000 servers around the world, works great with Torrenting, Netflix, special features for Tor. Offer 30-day Free trial available www.expressvpn.com

VyprVPN: it has 700+ servers in over 70 Countries, works great with Torrenting, Netflix, special features for Tor. Offer 30-day Free trial available www.vyprvpn.com

2. Install Tor – the dark web browser

The dark web is only accessible through special dark web browsers. While Tor is the most popular choice, and it is indeed secure, there are several other Tor alternatives that people use too. These browsers provide safe and secure access to the dark web. These browsers have specific features that help provide secure access to the dark web, such as data security through layers of encryption, hiding your IP address, preventing online tracking, and a lot more. 

Despite the availability of several of these dark web browsers, Tor remains a popular choice primarily because the browser is reliable and secure. It helps ensure privacy and security by encapsulating your data into layers of encryption and hiding your IP address. However, the browser does have a few vulnerabilities, such as:

  • It doesn’t encrypt your data; rather only hides it in layers of encryption, which leaves it vulnerable. 
  • The layers of encryption come on at the entry node and are stripped at the exit node. After the exit node, the data travels to its destination naked, vulnerable to snooping. 
  • The entry node can see your IP address and is thus aware of your activity. 
  • Anyone monitoring Tor nodes can track back activity. 

However, these vulnerabilities are not too much of an issue. You can easily bypass them by using Tor and a VPN. The VPN provides data encryption and routes your data through remote servers to help mask your IP address and location. Thus it successfully prevents anyone from snooping on your activity. You can learn more about how to use Tor safely through this link.

3. Pairing Tails and Tor – for better privacy

Tails is a live version of Linux OS and one of the reputable mobile operating systems. It guarantees security in ways such as:

  • Deletes passwords, browser history, and other personal data when shut down.  
  • Doesn’t store cookies on hard drive 
  • Users have the option of storing selected files in encrypted storage. 

The privacy and security it offers ensure anyone who gets access to your device doesn’t have any means of exploiting it. A hack attack can be a waste as there would be no personal information in your device for data breaches. 

Apart from that, it comes with exceptional Tor support such as:

  • The Tor browser comes pre-installed in Tails 
  • Blocks any application that tries to connect to the internet bypassing Tor. 

Tails’ privacy and anonymity feature bypass restrictions, making it ideal for scrolling the dark web securely. 

Setting up tails is also a relatively straightforward process. The OS is free and can be downloaded on your flash drive or DVD. each time you want to use it, you won’t have to download it on your device; instead, you can insert the DVD or the USB flash drive and use the OS.

A slight drawback to Tail is that it isn’t compatible with a VPN. The live OS runs on an isolated virtual machine, so using a VPN is a moot point. 

Using a VPN might obstruct your privacy and specify an entry node. However, your information is vulnerable without a VPN since it has only Tor’s layered encryption as protection. A solution to this is to set up a VPN within your router, effectively encrypting your entire connection. 

4. Managing Tor Privacy Settings

Tor is a safe and reliable browser, and it does offer several privacy settings that you can tweak as per your requirement. It offers different security levels ranging from “Safer” to “Safest,” where naturally the safest level ensures the best security. You can change Tor’s level of security by taking the following steps:

  • Click on the shield icon present on the top right corner of the Tor browser 
  • From the available options, click on “Advanced Security Settings.”
  • Scroll down to “Security”
  • From here, select “Safer” or “Safest.”

The safer option of the security settings only disables the JavaScript on websites that aren’t “https” protected, while the safest option disables JavaScript on all websites. It is crucial because most websites run scripts without notifying you, and over the dark web, this can be dangerous as most sites are .onion websites that are unregulated and might infect you with malware. 

 If you are choosing the safest option, beware that it will disable most of the audio formats, fonts, and videos on websites and hinder the working of some websites. Moreover, the “safest” settings will also cause a significantly slower internet connection.

5. Use a Virtual Machine 

A virtual machine is a file that behaves like your computer while virtually borrowing a dedicated amount of CPU storage and memory from it. It runs in a different environment and runs partitioned from the rest of the host system. Therefore, activities within the virtual machine in no way impact your computer. If you get a malware attack, it will remain on the virtual machine and wouldn’t harm your whole device.

Setting up a virtual machine with a VPN and Tor can help you securely scroll the dark web. With VPN and Tor ensuring security, the virtual machine will ensure your device and other personal data remain protected in case of malware or hack attack.

6. Remain careful of your browsing habits

Safe access to the dark web requires a deep understanding of its risks. Many people might assume that using reliable online security tools is the only way to attain safe access to the dark web. However, even using some of the best online security tools, you can still be vulnerable if you don’t remain vigilant with your browsing habits. Some of the things that you need to look out for a while on the dark web are:

  • Use private search engines instead of Google. Search engines like Google don’t work on the dark web specifically since it comprises .onion websites. 
  • It is crucial to use secure passwords. 
  • If you are uploading files from the dark web, ensure they are securely encrypted. 
  • It is best to avoid login and subscriptions on the dark web unless you are sure about the reliability of the website. 
  • Best ensure anonymity by using a pseudo email address and username. 
  • Since cybercriminals prowl on the dark web, it is best not to trust anyone and abstain from sharing personal information such as passwords, bank account information, etc. 
  • It is best to refrain from downloading files from the dark web. In case you download any file, it is best to run it through antimalware software first to maintain security. 

While accessing the dark web indeed comes, following such tips can help ensure that your browsing over the dark web remains secure and anonymous.

What are the threats on the Dark Web?

Before scrolling the dark web, do familiarize yourself with potential threats you can come across on the dark web. While it is not illegal to access the dark web, the illicit activities that mainly occur there can be harmful to anyone who doesn’t know them. Some potential threats that you can come across are as follows :

Malware attacks

Malware is abundantly present in the dark web. Not only is it offered as a means for threat actors to launch attacks, but it is also prowling around looking for unsuspecting victims to infect. While malware threat is also available on the surface web, things significantly change with the dark web since the websites there don’t practice caution and ensure security measures for their users. While on the dark web, you can fall victim to malware infections like:

  •  Spyware
  • Keyloggers
  • Phishing malware 
  • Ransomware 
  • Botnets 
  • Trojans

Admittedly you might be practicing caution while venturing the dark web. However, a slight action or a wrong click on some websites can land you in deep trouble. With any malware infecting your device, you can suffer horribly and come across data loss and, in the worst-case scenario, lose your device too. 

A method of mitigating malware attacks is to ensure robust endpoint security. Make sure to protect your device with reliable anti-malware to mitigate such attacks. 

Phishing attacks and scams  

The darknet is crawling with criminals, and anyone can scam you or make you a victim of phishing attacks. If you don’t remain vigilant and practice caution, many services you curiously investigate might be scams profiting off willing customers. 

In some cases, a dark web user on any of its open forums can also attempt a phishing attack to steal your personal information and further use it for financial gains or identity theft. Therefore, it is crucial to remain vigilant and practice caution on the dark web.  

Can become a Government Target

Admittedly accessing the dark web isn’t illegal. However, its reputation with criminals has led law enforcement and the government to remain vigilant of its users. It is common knowledge that the government strictly monitors the dark web. Most illegal marketplaces such as the Silk Road and various open forums remain strictly surveillance. 

Even if you are not a customer of illegal marketplaces, visiting them can get you on a government watchlist. Admittedly you plan to remain anonymous, but slight human errors can crack your anonymity if you are not vigilant enough. Similarly, you can encounter serious issues if you visit a political forum and accidentally leak your identity. This might even lead to jail time in many countries, such as China. So it is best to maintain caution regarding the dark web. 

Beware of webcam hijacking

Webcam hijacking is a common occurrence over the dark web. It occurs through a remote administration tool such as RAT. Victims accidentally download RAT when clicking on a website or any other link. If you don’t remain vigilant enough, you can easily fall victim. 

The RAT allows the creator to hijack your webcam and spy on you through your device’s camera lens. To mitigate this threat, be vigilant of any links you click on and strictly do not download any files. Moreover, it is best to have your webcam covered with tape or a piece of paper if you are not using it. 

Is it Illegal To Access the Deep or the Dark Web?

Accessing the dark web or the deep web, it’s not illegal at all. As mentioned above, you access the deep web almost daily. Even with the dark web, there is no legality issue. However, the activities you perform either on the dark web or the deep web can be illegal, such as:

  • You use the deep web to access pirated content or get pass geo-restrictions

OR 

  • You use the dark web to view illicit content, buy drugs or carry out criminal activities. 

As long as you are vigilant of your activity online, there aren’t any issues. The maximum trouble you can get into on the dark web is visiting political forums or marketplaces. In that case, the government might flag you and monitor you even if you’re not a participant or trader. 

Final Words 

Maintaining privacy and security is crucial to an online presence. Increasing privacy becomes vital when accessing the dark web or the dark web. Admittedly, you might not be accessing the dark or deep web for any illicit activities. Still, you need to ensure security and privacy from the prowling cybercriminals within these depths of the internet. Hopefully, the tips mentioned above will be fruitful in safe access to the dark or deep web.

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Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-focused articles. He strives to help achieve a secure online environment and is skilled in writing topics related to cybersecurity, AI, DevOps, Cloud security, and a lot more. As seen in: Computer.org, Nordic APIs, Infosecinstitute.com, Tripwire.com, and VentureBeat.

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