“There’s a dark side of the internet, where almost anything goes, or can be bought for the right price.”
You may have heard that there is some mysterious hidden internet called the ‘Deep Web’ or the ‘DarkNet’ that you can’t get to from Google, and which is hidden from most web surfers. Perhaps tales of the dark marketplaces selling all kinds of legal and illicit goods anonymously for Bitcoin have picqued your curiosity, and you would like to take a look around and see what they are like. Perhaps you live in a country where social media and ordinary internet sites are censored and you would like to visit a place where everyone is free to speak their mind freely and without fear of repurcussion.
There are many common reasons why people become interested in visiting this hidden, anonymous internet space – but if you are like 99% of people you probably don’t have a clue how to access the so-called ‘darknet’ or ‘deep web’.
WTF are the Deep Web and the DarkNet anyway?
The “dark web” is a part of the world wide web that requires special software to access. Once inside, web sites and other services can be accessed through a browser in much the same way as the normal web.
However, some sites are effectively “hidden”, in that they have not been indexed by a search engine and can only be accessed if you know the address of the site. Special markets also operate within the dark web called, “darknet markets”, which mainly sell illegal products like drugs and firearms, paid for in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
There is even a crowdfunded “Assassination Market”, where users can pay towards having someone assassinated.
Because of the the dark web’s almost total anonymity, it has been the place of choice for groups wanting to stay hidden online from governments and law enforcement agencies. On the one hand there have been whistleblowers using the dark web to communicate with journalists, but more frequently it has been used by paedophile groups, terrorists and criminals to keep their dealings secret.
There are a number of ways to access the dark web, including the use of Tor, Freenet and I2P. Of these, the most popular is Tor (originally called The Onion Router), partly because it is one of the easiest software packages to use. Tor downloads as a bundle of software that includes a version of Firefox configured specifically to use Tor.
Tor provides secrecy and anonymity by passing messages through a network of connected Tor relays, which are specially configured computers. As the message hops from one node to another, it is encrypted in a way that each relay only knows about the machine that sent the message and the machine it is being sent to.
Rather than conventional web addresses, Tor uses “onion” addresses, which further obsure the content. There are even special versions of search engines like Bing and Duck Duck Go that will return onion addresses for Tor services.
Services on the dark web would not have been as popular without a means of paying for them. This is something that Bitcoin has made possible.
“A recent study by Carnegie Mellon researchers Kyle Soska and Nicolas Christin has calculated that drug sales on the dark net total US$100 million a year. Most, if not all, was paid for in Bitcoin.”
Installing TOR on your computer is incredibly simple. It is no different from installing any other piece of software. It is also very easy to use – when you open TOR you will see that it is just a web browser which you use exactly the same way as you would any other web browser. In fact, it is based on Firefox so if you have ever used that browser you will find it to be very familiar indeed. For those in need of more rigorous privacy and security there is also a TOR operating system called TAILS (The Amnesiac Incogneto Live System) which you can run from a USB stick, but for most people the browser is sufficient.
You can download the TOR browser here.
USING A VPN WITH TOR
Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are another kind of privacy software which masks your IP address (hiding who you are) but do not allow you to access hidden deep web sites.
Some users make use of a VPN in addition to Tor, in order to hide the fact that they are using Tor. This is not necessary, but some people just want that extra level of privacy. I recommend IPVanish if you’re looking for a VPN that works well with Tor and provides an excellent service for a fair price.
P.S– In the next post,I shall be providing a list of some of the most specific and dangerous domains of this weird world.
Till then,keep supporting.