What is The Dark Web and is it Safe?

If you're considering a trip to browse The Dark Web, then you probably already think that it's somewhat mysterious. However, The Dark Web is an often misunderstood segment of the internet. This shadowy digital realm, accessible only through specific software, hosts a myriad of activities, both legal and illicit.

Its reputation as a haven for anonymity has sparked curiosity and concern alike. But what exactly is the Dark Web, and how safe is it to explore? Let us unravel its complexities and see how we can browse this hidden segment of the global information superhighway.

What is the Dark Web?

The Dark Web is a hidden part of the internet. We say hidden because standard search engines do not index it. As such, you can only access the dark web through special browsers. Characterized by its high level of privacy and anonymity, The Dark Web is often associated with specialized networks like TOR or I2P.

Of the things we hear regarding the dark web, a large part is its use in various clandestine activities. That ranges from illegal transactions to private communication channels for journalists and activists. However, it's not solely used for illicit purposes but also as a platform for users seeking privacy.

Despite its potential for legitimate use, the Dark Web's association with illegal activities has led to a controversial and often misunderstood reputation.

How The Dark Web Works

The Dark Web operates on the principle of anonymity and is inaccessible through standard web browsers. It relies on specific networks and technologies to maintain privacy and secrecy. Here's an overview of how it works:

  • Specialized Browsers: The Dark Web is primarily accessed through anonymous browsing browsers such as Tor (The Onion Router) and I2P (Invisible Internet Project). These browsers route internet traffic through several randomly selected servers.
  • Unique Domain Names: Websites on the Dark Web often use non-standard domain names, such as those ending in “.onion” for Tor-accessible sites. These domain names are not registered with traditional domain name registries and can only be accessed through Tor-enabled browsers.
  • Decentralized Hosting: Many Dark Web sites are hosted on decentralized servers. This means that rather than being hosted on a single server, their hosting is distributed across multiple locations, which can make them more resistant to censorship and shutdowns.

Deep Web versus Dark Web: What’s the Difference

Surface Web / Deep Web / Dark Web Iceberg

The terms “Deep Web” and “Dark Web” are often used interchangeably. However, this is incorrect. They refer to different parts of the internet.

The Deep Web encompasses all parts of the internet that are not indexed by search engines. This includes a vast array of content that is perfectly legal and mundane. Examples include private databases, password-protected websites, secure bank accounts, and internal company networks.

Essentially, it's the part of the internet that is not accessible to the public or captured by search engines, but it's not inherently secretive or nefarious.

On the other hand, the Dark Web is a small portion of the Deep Web. It has been intentionally hidden and is inaccessible through standard web browsers. This level of anonymity has made the Dark Web a hub for illegal activities.

What You Can Buy on the Dark Web

Everything of value is a commodity on the Dark Web to be bought, sold, or traded. The enshrouded nature of this world has effectively made it a hush and secret world, filled with untoward and salacious activities, black markets, and perks limited to a selected few.

You can expect to find many things on the Dark Web. These range from regular goods to many things that may also be illegal, immoral, or both.

Examples of what you may find for sale on the Dark Web include:

  • Stolen credit card numbers
  • Fake passports
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Stolen/Hacked accounts to popular websites and services
  • Fake educational degrees
  • Poison and other deadly chemicals
  • Drugs (Both pharmaceutical and recreational)
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Illegal wildlife

And much more.

Note that some of the above for sale on the dark web could be shams. They are intended to get your bitcoins without making good on the promise. But, if anyone is looking to buy such things, they don’t earn any sympathy as victims of the scam.

Even as such, it doesn't make the Dark Web any less dangerous or disgusting.

Should You Browse The Dark Web?

There’s a reason why the Dark Web is hidden and stays hidden; this is where many illegal and sinister activities take place. Cybercriminals often use it as a platform to put up stolen credentials as commodities to be bought, sold, or traded.

Aside from this, there are other various illegal business dealings that cannot be conducted out in the open.  And in some nasty nooks and crannies of this hellhole on earth, there are even sites that deal with the worst predilections of humanity.

So, for most of us, the answer to this question is an easy ‘No’, unless you need to do something that needs full anonymity, such as whistle-blowing, reporting on crime syndicates or trying to bypass state censorship. Otherwise, steer clear of this place. Always be conscious of your online security and privacy no matter what.

How to Browse the Dark Web Safely

Browsing the Dark Web safely requires careful measures to ensure privacy and security. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) with a specialized browser like Tor is a common approach. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Choose a Reputable VPN Service: Select a VPN known for strong privacy policies and robust encryption. A good VPN will not keep logs of your internet activity, adding an extra layer of anonymity. We recommend NordVPN since it supports TOR connections.
  • Install and Connect the VPN: Before accessing the Dark Web, ensure your VPN is running. Connect to a VPN server, which will encrypt your internet traffic and hide your real IP address. This step is crucial for protecting your identity, especially if you're using public Wi-Fi.
  • Download and Install a Specialized Browser: The most common browser for accessing the Dark Web is Tor. Download it from the official website to avoid counterfeit versions that could compromise your security.

And that's it!

You now have at least the minimum security requirements to browse the dark web anonymously.

Is it Safe to Browse the Dark Web?

The Dark Web has no shortage of scams, phishing sites, and malware designed to trick newbies. Yes, links on the clear web oftentimes are also malicious, but at least HTTPS can be used to help verify the legitimacy of the website using SSL certificates but this is not possible on the Dark Web.

It is usual for you to feel curious and want to ‘feel’ around the Dark Web. But, have you heard of the phrase – Curiosity killed the cat? Admittedly, there are many things in the Dark Web that you don’t usually see. But this does not change that the Dark Web isn’t a place for anyone to stumble around for fun blindly.

There are tons of notorious and bad things happening in there, and people like you could run into serious trouble from the bad guys and law enforcement, depending on what you do. Silk Road was highly successful as a crypto market, facilitating the trade of illicit drugs on the Dark Web.

It was taken down in October 2013 by the FBI. However, in a matter of weeks, its void was filled up by other similar crypto-markets. Still, the Dark Web remains filled with many other unsavory things. Experimenting is fine, though – as long as you remember to play it safe.

Dark Web Sites to Visit

Since many legitimate companies are also there, you will find many dark web links you can try safely. Here are some Dark Web Links to use and test if you can access the zone with the Tor Browser;

(Important Note: Remember, you can only access these Dark Web Links by using the Tor Browser or an alternative that supports .onion links)

  • The Hidden Wiki – The Dark Web version of Wikipedia. This version offers Dark Web-centric topics covering everything from security (like PGP signatures) to the strange (like In Praise of Hawala).
  • Facebook – Yes, your favorite social media site is also on the Dark Web. While the concept may seem strange, it's definitely available.
  • ProPublica – If you're sick of Google News and are looking for something that leans more strongly towards the /alt group, then ProPublica is the Dark Web news site that fits your needs.
  • Galaxy3 – Again, we have an alternative service for those not fond of the mainstream. Galaxy3 is a Dark Web social media service that works just like Facebook.
  • Mail2Tor – This secure email service provider is a great alternative for those who hate getting stalked by Google. Gmail is fine, but like everything else Google, it follows you around the web, so try Mail2Tor!


The Dark Web is definitely not a child’s playground and certainly not a place for you to blindly stumble in and navigate carelessly. There are many illegal, disgusting, and notorious activities going on on the Dark Web. 

But if you want to browse the Dark Web, take the necessary precautions and carefully follow the steps above. Note that security and anonymity are paramount here and are in your hands, so always exercise extreme caution when navigating your way around. Stay alert and be careful, as always you should.


We're the team of hamsters that have yet earned the right to publish under our own names. Overworked and underpaid, editorial staff scour the web for interesting snippets we can use to impress the boss.

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