In today’s short tutorial, you’re going to learn how “Go Dark” online in five minutes or less.
Yes, that’s right. You’re going to be shown the way to the Dark Web. Which means, of course, complete anonymity in everything you do online.
Before you can understand what the Dark Web is, though, you must first understand what it isn’t.
For one, it’s not the same as the “Deep Web.”
As you can see below, the Deep Web is a layer between the Surface Web and the Dark Web.
The Deep Web is said to be more than 500 times larger than the web we used today — the Surface Web.
The Deep Web isn’t inherently anonymous and can be accessed through portals on the Surface Web. These portals are search engines made specifically for Deep Web content. (A list of examples can be found here.)
The Dark Web, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether.
What the Dark Web is and where it comes from.
The Dark Web is made up of a decentralized web of privately encrypted computers (and a few public ones) called “privacy networks.”
The Darknet is part of the ecosystem within the Dark Web. One that is, as you’ll see in a moment, very easy to access.
Why should you access the Darknet?
Getting familiar with the Darknet could, in the future, become crucial to maintaining your privacy online.
If the NSA (or FBI) does create endless backdoors in online security systems, as they seem dead set on doing, Black Hats hackers would storm the gates, ripping apart all the trust in the Surface online ecosystem.
The Dark Web — where the Darknet resides — could, in turn, become a place of engagement and commerce, where opportunities, productivity and smart money has fled from the draconian and incompetent.
It could also, as a result, become part of the next big “Gold Rush.” (Cough cough, cryptocurrencies.)
How do I access the Darknet?
The most popular privacy network, which anyone can join, is called “The Onion Router” or, for short, TOR.
But don’t worry. Using TOR is as simple as downloading a new web browser.
The way TOR works is simple: Instead of communicating directly with websites, as you do on the Surface Web, using TOR, you’re communicating indirectly through the entire network. Your connection is bounced around like a lightspeed pinball game.
All right, now that you’re “in the know,” let’s get down to the brass tacks. Getting in is simple.
First Step: Download TOR.
Now that you have a basic idea of what TOR is (everything you need to know, really), here’s the part where the rubber meets the road.
And it’s the easiest part: Download it.
Follow the simple directions on the website on how to use it, and you’ll be set up in no time. It can all happen in less than five minutes. And then you’re in.
Feel free to swim around a bit. (But not without understanding the four things you shouldn’t do on the Darknet. We’ll get to that in a moment below).
The first thing you’ll notice in the Darknet is that the URLs are a little different from what you’re used to in the Surface Web.
For example, the anonymous search engine DuckDuckGo’s Darknet URL is: http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/
[Note: Copy and paste that URL, save it somewhere for later.]
Here’s the thing…
Beyond the scary “Darknet” name, what we are really talking about is a more robust and freer marketplace. One that can be run 100% anonymously, frictionless, very short on the middleman and with no central direction or management.
It’s worth understanding.
Before you head off into the abyss, though, consider this second (optional) step carefully:
Second Step: Add an extra layer of protection with a VPN.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a way to cloak your location online. It allows you to connect to the Internet through a remote server from anywhere in the world.
Here’s an example of how a VPN works…
It doesn’t phase Batzorig of Ulaanbaatar one bit when he realizes House of Cards only streams for free on Netflix in America. Batzorig simply fires up his VPN, which automatically transmits his connection through a server in San Jose.
He just travelled all the way across the Earth — at the speed of light — and virtually landed in California. Now, all of a sudden, House of Cards is on at Batzorig’s house and nobody can figure out how he did it.
VPNs are optional. But they’re a good idea. The NSA, according to a 2014 piece from Wired, have been tagging people who download and access TOR. Of course, they can’t see what you do once you’re in the wormhole. But, without a VPN they can see if you’ve dipped your head in.
[Again, as mentioned in previous episodes, I use TunnelBear. Works anywhere. Great for travel and at home.]
Four things to consider when you take the plunge into the unknown: First, turn off running scripts in the TOR browser when you open it. There’s a button next to the address bar, click that. Two, be careful what you click. Use each click wisely. If you don’t know where it goes, don’t go there. Three, don’t do anything that’s against the law. Not a good idea. And, finally, Four: Don’t download anything onto your computer. Not until you’re more comfortable with how to navigate the wormhole.
And, of course, the great disclaimer…
This missive is to be used for educational purposes only. You access the Darknet at your own risk and discretion. You are responsible for any consequences that may follow as a result.
And we are all adults here. Check it out.
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today