As part of the world’s biggest public network, the darknet is not for the faint-of-heart and should be treated as a highly volatile digital environment. Not only is it not accessible through a regular browser and mainstream internet connection—it contains vulnerabilities we haven’t even begun to image. It is not hidden because of secrecy, but because of utility. Dark Web is the deepest part of the web accessible “publicly”, a loose sense of the word, using special tools like Tor. It contains contents that Google and other competing search engines cannot reach because their indexers are on a separate network.
For those who want to explore the Dark Web, many sites online already provide detailed information on how to do it. This article focuses on ways how to securely browse the Dark Web, as unaided exploration may cause trouble for the user:
1. Be alert with clicking links.
Just like the public web, browsing the Dark Web is not safe for a reckless user. The Dark Web is the part of the Internet not easily accessible by a mainstream browser, there is an acceptable level of risk involved. Security services and antivirus vendors’ websites are not operating in the Dark Web. It is a territory where cybercriminals operate their illegal business. Government regulation is weak on the Dark Web, the jurisdiction of governments over it is under question as the web is global in nature. Keep the operating system and the TOR browser updated, as the chance of a system exploits is higher when browsing the Dark Web. System updates are important to fix the security holes in the software, malware spreads by exploiting security bugs
2. Research first before entering into a financial transaction.
The public web is full of legitimate vendors and through the use of the standard TLS encryption, online transactions are dependable and generally secure. In the Dark Web, there is no Fortune 100 company that sells their products or services. It is an area of the web where reputability and legitimacy of online transactions cannot be verified. Never trust any web page on the Dark Web asking for credit card information to complete a transaction; the possibility of identity theft is high.
3. Unless done using a virtual machine, do not download files from the Dark Web.
Pirated software loaded with malware are available for free download on the Dark Web. Never trust software if it comes from a 3rd party download site. Only download software directly from the developer website. Besides, due to Microsoft changing its marketing method for their Windows OS, the Windows 10 ISO is now freely available without cost, what people need to pay for is the license key. If there is really a need to download software from Dark Web, access the dark web through a Virtual Machine. This enables system isolation and quarantine, anything that happens in the virtual machine stays in the virtual machine.
4. Use a fake identity.
In the public web, online services demand people for their real identities when signing up for an account. This is important to complete an online transaction which involved the customer’s bank information. However, in the Dark Web, it is necessary to use a fake identity as the websites on the Dark Web are commonly dodgy in nature.
5. Sign-up for VPN Service.
This is not vital, as TOR already provides some level of anonymity and privacy. However, signing up for a VPN service does not hurt and even increase security when browsing the Dark Web.
6. Optional, but useful, cover the selfie camera lens.
The term “camfecting” is coined by the cybersecurity industry. It refers to a type of malware which makes the infected PC a member of a botnet and enables the botnet master to remotely turn-on and use the webcam installed in a PC. This is a big privacy issue, however, the possibility of contacting camfected malware is much larger when browsing the Dark Web. It is advisable to place a black tape over the webcam, especially in laptops.