The internet is 32 years old today. Only 1% of the world had a connection in 1995. Since then, the internet has grown to become a massive and powerful resource. As of January 2021, there are 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide. The internet has become a part of modern daily living, incorporated in IoT technology, healthcare, and many other aspects and trends.
From Google to Facebook to YouTube and what have you, the internet may seem vast and endless to the average user. But did you know that the seemingly infinite web you browse every day is less than 5% of the internet? That’s right. What you experience through your browser and email client is just the tip of the iceberg.
Different Layers of the Internet
Table of Contents
- Different Layers of the Internet
- Dangers on the Dark Web
- Ways to Increase Protection on the Dark Web
There are multiple levels of the internet behind your browser that you cannot access without special tools. There are three layers of the internet, namely the Surface Web, the Dark Web, and the Deep Web. Let’s break them down.
1. Surface Web
Sometimes also referred to as the Clear Net or the Visible Web, the Surface Web is the portion of the internet that most of us are familiar with. The Surface Web is indexed by search engines such as Google, Yahoo! Search, Bing, etc. Users can access the clear net via standard internet browsers that don’t require any special configuration, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Edge, and Safari.
2. Deep Web
There are parts of the internet whose contents are not searchable or indexed by conventional search engines such as Google. The Deep Web is hidden from the search engines using web services or APIs. You need a direct URL or IP address to locate and access content in the Deep Web. You may also require some form of security access, such as a password. Numerous internet applications such as video on demand, online banking, webmail, cloud services, etc., are part of the Deep Web.
3. Dark Web
The Dark Web, AKA the Dark Net, is the deepest layer of the internet. The Dark Web is home to websites that have been intentionally hidden. Unlike the Deep Web, which does not require dedicated software to access, you need specific software, the TOR browser (to route your requests through proxy servers), configurations, and authorization to access the Dark Web.
The Dark Web uses encryption software to provide anonymity and hide their IP addresses. Due to its covert nature, the dark web is home to a lot of illegal activity. It’s a cesspool of human traffickers, hitmen, drug dealers, and cybercriminals. But the darknet is also a place for journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents to freely and anonymously express their views and whistleblow.
Dangers on the Dark Web
People often use the terms ‘Deep Web’ and ‘Dark Web’ interchangeably, but they are not the same. The Dark Web is a subset of the Deep Web that’s deliberately hidden from search engines for privacy. It’s a small portion of the web, accounting for an estimated 5% of the internet. The Dark Net can be dangerous, especially if you don’t really know these parts of the web. Here are some of the risks you may encounter on the Dark Web.
Being on the Dark Web puts you in danger of coming into contact with malware such as ransomware, botnets, and key loggers. Cybercriminals distribute malware and viruses freely on the Dark Web. Most of the malware is transmitted over the Dark Net and then put to use on public access websites. So you should be aware of how to access the dark web safely before you visit.
The Dark Web provides a training ground for hackers and would-be hackers. Cybercriminals often share new techniques and best practices that can be used to compromise computer systems and networks without fear of interception. Hackers can even purchase HaaS (Hacking as a Service) packages on the Dark Web.
3. Illegal Activity
The Dark Net is an area beyond the reach of law enforcement. It’s also a part of the internet that renders anyone who uses it invisible. These two factors contribute to the proliferation of illegal activities on the Dark Web. Human trafficking, the sale of illegal firearms, drug dealing, etc., are rampant in the Dark Web.
4. Identity Theft
According to the IMF, bank details, credit card details, and identities are the second most sought-after product on the Dark Web. Pharmaceutical drugs and contraband top the list of most wanted items on the Dark Web. There’s a profitable and viable market for personal records on the Dark Web. So it’s necessary that you must know how to access the dark web safely.
Ways to Increase Protection on the Dark Web
Full of cybercriminals, scammers, and other illicit activities, the Dark Web is as ominous as it sounds. As an average user, you should think twice before visiting the Dark Web. But if you are doing something that requires a great deal of privacy and anonymity, you may not have a choice. If you do visit these parts of the internet, you need to ensure that you are protected.
Here are a few measures you can take to browse the dark web safely.
1. Security Tools
If you want to be completely anonymous on the Dark Web, the Tor Browser is not enough. To be safe, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to hide your online activity on the dark web. A VPN will conceal your IP address and encrypt your online traffic, adding the much-needed extra layer of privacy and security as you browse the Dark Web. Some people also choose to install this app on their router as one of the ways to strengthen their router security.
Ensure that you also have antivirus software installed on your computer to defend against malware so that you can access Dark Web safely.
2. Stick With an Up To Date Tor Browser
Purposely obscured from the rest of the internet, the Dark Web is a subset of the Deep Web. These corners of the internet operate with a high degree of anonymity. Several specialized tools allow you to visit the dark web. For instance, you need a special browser known as Tor to access .onion sites on the Dark Web. Make sure that your Tor browser is up to date when visiting the Dark Web.
3. Beware Of the Websites You Visit
Keep in mind that there are plenty of sites on the Dark Web, and many of them are not safe. While it’s not all bad, the Dark Web is full of malicious actors spreading malware and ransomware or looking for personal information to steal. You need to be sure that the site you are visiting on the dark web is secure to avoid getting caught up in nefarious activities happening on these corners of the internet.
4. Protect Your Identity
As stated earlier in the article, identity theft is rampant on the Dark Web. Ensure that you protect your personal information such as driver’s license, passport, social security numbers, and account information on the Dark Web to reduce the risk of identity theft. Disable apps that are not essential to access the dark web and minimize the risk of infiltration. Be sure to disable your webcam and microphone when visiting Dark Web sites. Businesses should also protect their customers’ data carefully since it has increasingly become a data breach target for hackers.
The Dark Web is part of the Deep Web, a portion of the internet not indexed by conventional search engines. The Dark Web is deliberately hidden from search engines and can only be accessed via special browsers such as Tor. The Dark Web is not safe, and you need to take some precautions before you try to access these corners of the internet. Follow the above tips to access the dark web safely.
Author Bio: This is a guest post by Matthew Stern and he is a technology content strategist at TechFools, a tech blog aiming at informing readers about the potential dangers of technology and introducing them to the best ways to protect themselves online. As a tech enthusiast and an advocate for digital freedom, Matthew is dedicated to introducing his readers to the latest technology trends and teaching them how to gain control over their digital lives.