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Is the Dark Web Illegal?

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ByHarper Stewart

Aug 14, 2023
Is the Dark Web Illegal?
Harper Stewart
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In reality, according to King’s College London academics Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid, the majority of dark websites are used for illegal activity, notably the trade in stolen credentials, narcotics, and money laundering.  

That’s accurate. There’s a strong probability that each time your personal information is compromised through malware, phishing, or data breaches, it will be transferred to the dark web where a buyer may be discovered.

You may be familiar with the infamous tales surrounding Silk Road, the anonymous internet market where illegal substances were sold using bitcoin. It was introduced in 2011, making it among the earliest dark web internet portals. Similar platforms are widely used today.  

It’s also possible that you’ve heard of the Besa Mafia, a more nefarious marketplace for violent crimes including contract killings, extortion, sex trafficking, and terrorist groups. As unbelievable as it may sound, there is an online underworld that operates with real-world ramifications.

However, not all activity on the dark web is unlawful or malicious. Did you realize that Facebook has a dark web page you may access? The New York Times concurs. It is clear why there is uncertainty. Despite not being prohibited, a lot of unlawful activity takes place there. There are infamous criminal websites there, but there are also well-known, widely visited sites and companies.

Let’s get started by explaining what the dark web is (and what it isn’t) and how it differs from the web you are familiar with.

What is the Dark Web and Where It’s Located?

Unsearchable portions of the internet are found on the “dark web.” Using disguised IP addresses, it enables anonymous website access and browsing. Only the Tor browser, which blocks monitoring, surveillance, and ad targeting, can access the hidden web.  

As was already known, illegal transactions frequently take place on the dark web. Scammers and other bad guys use it to buy and sell stolen private data like credit card numbers, email addresses, and occasionally even house addresses. However, there is a lot more activity on the dark web. The surface web, deep web, and black web are the three divisions of the internet.

The surface web

Web information that has been indexed by search engines is known as the surface web, also known as the indexed web or visible web. The surface web contains everything that can be discovered using a Google search. Or, anything on the web that is visible and accessible through standard web surfing. But this portion of the internet is only the tip of the iceberg.  

The Deep Web

The following layer is the deep web. Although “deep web” and “dark web” are frequently used synonymously, they are not the same. Material that search engines have not indexed can be found on the deep web. This isn’t as enigmatic as it might seem. Most likely, you use the deep web frequently. In actuality, it comprises 90% of the whole web.

Your Facebook postings, for instance, are not indexed and cannot be discovered using a web browser. You cannot access your email inbox, online banking, or Google Drive folders from a web browser. On the deep web, they are all present. It consists of the aspects of your online behavior that aren’t specifically concealed but can’t be seen by others. Some commentators wrongly refer to “the deep web” when they mean “the dark web.” Now that you are wiser,

The Dark Web

The deep web contains the dark web, another area of the internet. Because dark web sites are so well-hidden, regular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari cannot access them. Only the Tor browser may be used to access the black web.

Legal Use of the Dark Web 

Even those of us who don’t intend to do anything illegal want more privacy in our internet dealings. Uses of the dark web that aren’t prohibited include:

  • Aiding democracy. People living under repressive regimes can safely communicate thanks to the dark web. During the Arab Spring movement in the early 2010s, it was heavily utilized.
  • Journalism. Journalists commonly utilize the dark web to conceal their IP addresses while conducting sensitive research for a story idea.
  • Security. Using Tor and the dark web can provide your personal information an extra degree of security from hackers since it encrypts your data.
  • General privacy. Internet service providers (ISPs) can and often do record and sell your browsing history in the United States. By using the dark web to access material, you may hide your activities from them.

What Is a Threat That Comes From the Dark Web?

Although using the dark web isn’t necessarily prohibited in the US, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any risks to your personal safety there. Cybercriminals acquire and resell lists of private information on the dark web because they are aware of the value of personal data like your credit card number and social security number. Once this material is on the dark web, it is very difficult to take it down entirely. 

Hackers that want to harm the reputation of your company might post on your social media pages or publish false material online. Given that it may be exploited for a variety of unscrupulous strategies, like stealing employee identities, producing bogus invoices, maxing out corporate and employee credit cards, and more, this sensitive information can also hurt your organization’s financial line.

All of the aforementioned scenarios can be used to hurt your consumers if hackers get access to their personal information. As a result, your business may be subject to legal action for data breach. 

How to navigate the dark web Safely and Legally

Think “safety first” when accessing the dark web. To keep secure on the dark web, be watchful and adhere to these additional guidelines.

Go to the appropriate URL

If you’re connected securely, .onion websites won’t harm you, although you could unintentionally access some dark information. When choosing the websites you wish to visit, be cautious and thoughtful.

Watch what you share

Illegal behavior is prevalent and uncontrolled on the dark web. As mentioned above, be cautious about which.onion sites you visit and refrain from disclosing any personal information.

Avoid downloading files

Malware may be found on the dark web, just like on the surface web. To prevent the possibility of your data being compromised, kindly refrain from downloading anything you are not positive is authentic.

Avoid Purchasing Anything

Although some dark web stores could be trustworthy, it is not worth the risk to make a purchase.

Always update your applications

Updates to systems and software are intended to keep you secure. Tor, as well as your anti-malware and VPN software, should all be kept up to date. Although there are many justifiable reasons to enter the dark web, you should always proceed with care. For instance, did you realize that when using the internet, you might unintentionally infringe the law? Do not engage in these unlawful activities online.

Having said that, there are situations when it’s advisable to completely avoid the dark web. Fortunately, Clario is available to provide you with a worry-free online experience. It is a cross-platform issue solver that secures every aspect of your digital life in a single app. The best parts are that it is simple to use, customizable, and jargon-free. 

Is it Legal to View the Surface Web with Tor?

You may use Tor to browse the surface web and take use of its encryption to gain access to sites on the.onion ecosystem as well. This will provide you more protection and privacy. But heed the warning—you won’t have a pleasant user experience.

Tor is entirely legal to use, however it is well known that a lot of illicit activity does take place there. Many website owners find it easier merely to restrict all Tor users rather than sorting out the law-abiding from the illegal online users.

Finally, because of the complexity of Tor’s encryption mechanism, moving from point A to point B across the internet may be an extremely long procedure. Tor probably won’t be your preferred browser if you seek a quick surfing experience.

Our articles are for educational purposes only. Our objective is to spread knowledge about cyber security. Keep in mind that no one can completely stop identity theft or cybercrime.

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Harper Stewart

With a deep understanding of the complexities of the Dark Web, Harper curates informative and thought-provoking content for our readers. Her knowledge of the hidden corners of the internet and cybersecurity helps shed light on the often mysterious and illicit activities that take place in this realm.