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Questions about the Dark Web that you were afraid to ask

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Questions about the Dark Web that you were afraid to ask
© Leo Lintang | Dreamstime

It's amazing how the internet has changed our lives and the world around us. From bills, banking and entertainment to messaging and communications, we now rely on it almost completely to conduct our daily activities.

But did you know there's more to the internet than we are all accustomed to? There is the internet that you and I use on a daily basis, and then there is the other internet that most people don't. There are multiple layers that most people probably don't even realize exist!

The Surface Web is Google, Facebook, Amazon, Komando.com, eBay and everything else a search site typically shows. Depending on the survey, Google only catalogs and searches anywhere from 4 percent to 16 percent of the Surface Web.

Below the Surface Web is the Deep Web. There, you'll find abandoned websites, paywalled sites, research firm databases, government databases and other things that aren't meant to be public.

Now, in the Deep Web, there is a place called the Dark Web. The Dark Web is where the internet's illicit activities reside.

It's where criminals sell illegal drugs, launder money and commit other crimes, often with little or no repercussions. It's a place where hackers buy your stolen credit card credentials and IDs. The Dark Web is not a place you want to visit without a solid understanding of what it is and what you're getting yourself into. So, proceed with caution.

Despite the Dark Web's sinister side, listeners ask Kim all the time for instructions on how to get into the Dark Web. So, for informational purposes only, here is how to get in.

To be fair, you may have a valid reason for going to the Dark Web. You may want to see if your stolen items are being sold there. You may want to see if hackers are selling your ID, your credit card numbers or bank account information. You may want to see if your children or grandkids are up to no good online.

If you want to check on those things, we recommend you hire a skilled professional or reputable company to do the snooping for you. But, if that's not an option for you, anyone can get into the Dark Web.

Keep reading for step-by-step instructions to get on the Dark Web.

What is the Dark Web?

Simply, the Dark Web is the internet. It's sites and pages on the internet that are hidden from public view.

It's accessible with a bit of know-how. You have to know how to get in and, with enough motivation, you'll find you're there in no time.

The Dark Web is part of the internet that you don't see every day. It's part of the Deep Web, which is simply sites and pages that aren't made publicly available. That's a huge part of the internet.

There's nothing inherently bad about the Deep Web. For example, does your company have private pages where you access information that is only for employees? If those pages aren't registered with sites like Google, they're hidden from view. That's the DEEP web.

The DARK Web, which is part of the Deep Web, is seedier. These are sites that run on an encrypted browser.

Encryption is an extremely secure way of protecting your information. You can't easily get in without passwords or biometric access, such as your fingerprint.

You might remember that Apple got into hot water with the U.S. government after the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attacks. The attackers had an encrypted iPhone that Apple wouldn't help the government unlock.

Encryption, when used for good, protects your location and privacy from hackers and criminals. When used for bad, as on the Dark Web, encryption can prevent the police and government from spotting illegal online activities, such as child pornography, prostitution, drug sales and more.

How to Access the Dark Web

Despite its well-deserved reputation for being hard to find, the Dark Web is easy to access if you follow these three steps.

1. Most sites on the Dark Web run on an encrypted tool called Tor. There are other Dark Web tools, such as I2P, but it's believed that most sites use Tor. Go to: TorProject.org.

Bonus: If you want to protect your privacy, including your location, you can use Tor. It's a donation-based web service that you can use for everyday web surfing. Read more about Tor here.

2. Know the sites you're looking for. The Dark Web isn't accessible by Google and other search engines. You need to know the name of a site to visit it.

Tip in a Tip: You can remain anonymous online using encrypted virtual private networks (VPN) like DuckDuckGo.

3. Use a VPN to remain anonymous on Tor.

Warning: Before you visit the Dark Web, listen to Kim talk about it in this two-part podcast (links below).

Remember, we are providing instructions to access the Dark Web for information purposes only. We do NOT recommend that you visit the Dark Web.

Deep Search

There's a good chance the term "Deep Web" is less familiar to you. It's not as widely discussed as the Dark Web, even though it's much larger. And, the Dark Web sometimes gives the Deep Web a bad name because the two are often mistaken for one another. Click here to see five common myths about the Dark Web.

The Deep Web, however, is everything on the internet that isn't easily accessible to the average internet user. In many cases, you need a special web browser to access its content. In others, the content is hidden behind the firewall and security protection of private networks - typically, small businesses and corporations.

What regular search engines are missing

Nine times out of 10, a regular Google search will suffice and bring back the results you're looking for. However, search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing only have access to information that has been indexed. This means any site that's marked as private can pretty much go undetected.

Just think of all the information that's being shared right under our noses. If you'd like to do a deeper search, these web browsers are what you need.

Deeperweb.com

Easing away from Google is no easy task. We've all become so familiar with how the search engine works, and how it will display our results. So, one of the best places to start is a site called Deeperweb.com. This search engine is powered by Google, so it organizes your results similar to what you're used to.

Dogpile

This powerful search engine pulls its results from Google, Yahoo, and Yandex, digging specifically through the metasearch engine for the information you need. The benefit to you is that every search engine has its own method and algorithms for searching, and Dogpile uses all of them to pull the most extensive results.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a solid Google replacement, and it doesn’t track or target your IP address or search history. So, you don’t have to worry about targeted ads or being trapped in a search filter bubble, which actually means you get more results. You can also make DuckDuckGo an extension of your browser and activate more privacy settings to keep your search history as protected as possible. 

Yippy

This Google-type site called Yippy goes beyond producing search results and blocks adult content, including pornography, gambling sites, and other inappropriate websites.

Plus, the site protects your privacy. It will not collect personally identifiable information about you, like your name, telephone number, address or email address. That is, as long as you're in the United States. "Yippy will not track a U.S. citizen for any reason" unless required by court order, subpoena or required by law. If you're not in the U.S., Yippy said you're subject to tracking so that it can comply with government required protocols.

Tor

If you're considering Tor as an option for web browsing, be sure to do your homework. This free software has a dark side. Not the software itself, but the places to where it grants access on the internet. Tor gives you access to the Dark Web, a portion of the internet that is often used for illegal activities. However, there could also be information shared on the Dark Web that isn't shared anywhere else. Reporters often use Tor to uncover new leads or communicate privately with their sources. 

Specialty search engines

When you're hunting for information, sometimes you know exactly what you're looking for, and sometimes you don't. The sites above will help you search through a broad scope of information out there. However, when you need to narrow it down, these are amazing specialty databases you should check out.

  • Archive.org: Non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music and more.
  • Library of Congress: Sift through historical archives from the Civil War, Great Depression, World War I, World War II and other monumental events that shaped our country.
  • Osti.gov: Wondering what the government has been up to with all of its research? This helpful search engine puts that information right at your fingertips.
  • Smithsonian Libraries: Collections covering everything from anthropology to zoology.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: Remember all of the information held in the Encyclopedia Britannica? It's still available. Here's where you'll find it.
  • Pipl.com: Want to know what's out there on the internet associated with your name, or a loved one? This site will search the Deep Web for that information.

A word of warning

One of the biggest advantages to common search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, is that they provide a certain level of protection. In the same way, it's less likely for a robbery to take place in broad daylight, it's also less likely for someone to post illegal things out in the open.

30 security terms you need to know to protect yourself online

Now that you have an idea about what Deep Web, Deep Search, and the Drak Web means, here are 30 other terms you need to know if you want to safeguard your online privacy and security.

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