A Beginner’s Guide to the Dark Web

Curious about the dark web? Discover what lies beneath in our dark web guide.

Person on the dark web

By now, you’ve heard of the dark web. While many remain cautious, over 2.5 million visitors use it on average every day (2023). So, what’s its appeal? And should you be concerned if your personal data is on the dark web?  

In this blog post, we’ll shed light on the dark web, its risks and how avoiding it can protect your data from breaches and other cyber attacks

What Is the Dark Web?

The dark web is a hidden part of the internet flooded with websites that search engines haven’t indexed. You won’t find a website through conventional web browsers like Google Chrome or Safari if a website isn’t indexed.

Instead, people use TOR browser to visit these hidden sites, anonymising any web traffic on its internal network. The dark web is closely connected with cyber crime, including selling or sharing stolen data and hiring hackers.  

What’s Under the Surface? 

The web we use daily is called the surface web (or “open web”). It contains public websites easily found on Google and other search engines. 

But what lurks beneath the surface? Picture Titanic – we’re Rose and Jack, oblivious that we’re about to crash into an iceberg of the deep, wide web. 

The surface web is just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath is the deep web, where 90% of all websites live. Search engines do not index these pages, meaning we’ll never know how much illicit content hides below. Websites on the deep web are hidden behind paywalls and passwords to protect user privacy, and for the most part, they pose no threat to your cyber security

The dark web is a smaller part of the deep web, concealed away and only accessible with the right software. It’s not something you’ll ever stumble across on. 

Is the Dark Web Illegal?

While the dark web seems ominous, it is, in fact, not illegal to access. As we’ll soon discuss, the dark web anonymises user identity, meaning those who risk endangerment, such as whistleblowers or victims, can take action online. 

But with great anonymity comes great power. 

Many illegal activities happen on the dark web, rightfully gaining its infamous reputation as the most dangerous part of the internet. 

Illegal activities include: 

  • Hacking services—On the black market, you can hire hackers to infiltrate devices and systems, leading to potential data breaches
  • Stolen data – Cyber criminals will share and sell stolen personal data, including login credentials, bank account details and health records.
  • Malware & computer viruses – Websites on the dark web can infect your devices with viruses and malicious software.
  • Fraud and scams – Fraudulent schemes thrive on the dark web – identity theft, credit card theft, you name it. 
  • Explicit content – The dark web contains everything from hacker forums to illegal plots and hate speech.  

Why Do People Use the Dark Web? 

Outside of dodgy dealings and illegal actions, most users browse the dark web for anonymity (70.79%), security (62.28%) and curiosity (27.97%).  

Browsers like Tor do not track users, so their identities are kept secure and unknown. Those requiring this privacy include victims of oppression, whistleblowers, and political protesters. 

Is Your Information on the Dark Web? 

A dark web monitoring tool will uncover whether your personal data is leaked on the dark web. Recently, we partnered with Dark Invader, to provide free trials of their dark web monitoring solution. Read more about this tool in part two of the dark web. 

As cyber security and data protection experts, we recommend avoiding the dark web at all costs. It’s not worth the risk. 

Keep Your Data Secure with Data Protection People

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