The internet can be divided into 3 parts. The surface web that is searchable with search engines, the deep web (the vast majority) which requires registration and authentication. The last part is the dark web which requires specialised browsers to access. It is used for both legal and illegal purposes.
The below picture can show us the distribution:
- Browsers for the dark web
- Dark web search engines
- Virtual Machines
- Kali Linux
- Data Breaches
- Hacking forums
- Protect yourself
2. Browsers for the dark web
Ordinary browsers are not able to access the dark web. Here is a list of browsers that are useful:
- Tor or The Onion Router is free and open-source software for enabling anonymous communication released 20 years ago. It can be downloaded from this link: https://www.torproject.org/
- I2P or Invisible Internet Project is an anonymous network layer that allows for censorship-resistant, peer-to-peer communication. It can be downloaded from here:
- Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform for censorship-resistant, anonymous communication. It can be downloaded from here: https://freenetproject.org/
- Riffle is an anonymity network developed by researchers at MIT and EPFL as a response to the problems of the Tor network.
- Brave is a regular browser that has an addition that links it to Tor.
3 . Dark web search engines
Here is a short list of popular darknet search engines. The list is not exclusive and is changing with time.
A VPN or virtual private network extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. They are very useful when dealing with the dark web to protect yourself from malicious actors and cyberthreats. There are both free and paid, usually the paid ones have more features and locations. The topic is very vast and is out of scope of the article. For more information check this link: here
- Virtual Machine
A virtual machine (VM) is the virtualization/emulation of a computer system. Since you want to download resources from the dark web, you need to know there is a greater risk it might contain malicious content, so it is not advisable to use your machine, far better is to use a virtual machine if anything bad happens it will be contained there. There is a huge choice again both paid and free, which is beyond the scope of the article. So here is a link with more information: here
- Kali Linux
Kali Linux is a Debian-derived Linux distribution designed for digital forensics and penetration testing. It is developed with a focus towards cyber security experts, penetration testers, and white-hat hackers. There are alternatives but are less developed and popular.
This is not compulsory if you want to use the dark web, but if utilised it can significantly extend your abilities since it contains lots of build in tools.
- Data Breaches
A data breach is a security violation, in which sensitive, protected or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorised to do so. Other terms are unintentional information disclosure, data leak, information leakage and data spill.
Your data is under threat and it can be leaked by a cybercriminal. The data is usually deposited at a hacking forum or a telegram channel sometimes for free other times a paid version. The breaches happen constantly and everyone can be affected.
Here is an interesting information regarding some of the largest data breaches: here
The dark web is infamous for illegal and immoral activities, but it’s also a gold mine of information. Many dark web sites are safe to visit and they can offer you a lot of value, but you might also encounter scam sites and black markets for drugs and weapons. Interesting websites can be encountered there are some popular suggestions. here and here
There are several companies that collect data breaches and offer services to track the leaked contents here is a list of such companies:
- Hacking forums
There are several hundred forums around the world, their numbers constantly fluctuating, some are closed, others are taken down and new ones emerge. They possess resources like data breaches, movies, books, comics, porn, courses, tutorials and other stuff. Some are in English, others in other languages. Here is a list of the most popular ones:
- XSS. XSS is a closed Russian hacker forum, which is considered to be one of the most popular and most professional Russian-speaking hacking forums. The name is an acronym for Cross-site scripting (XSS) which is a web security vulnerability that allows an attacker to compromise the interactions that users have with a vulnerable application.
- Breached. Shortly after the known and popular Raidforums was seized, one of its main leading and noticeable members, pompompurin, launched breached.co which was announced to be the official replacement to Raidforums. Raidforums’ users were naturally drawn to this site, as it provided the same information and its design resembles Raidforums. BreachedForums is a fertile ground for data breaches. Its “Databases” section maintains over 80 unique datasets containing over 1 billion records, with a total sum of over 20K users and more than 85K posts to date. The forum also consists of other sections such as Cracking, Marketplace, Tutorials and Scripts.
- Dread is a Tor-based Reddit-like dark web forum, which came to popularity in 2018 after Reddit banned several darknet market discussion communities. It reached 12K users within three months since it launched.
- Nulled is one of the most active, known and valuable hacker forums, that boasts 4.5 million users and over 35 million posts.
- Cracked is a well known and important hacker forum with over 3 million users and more than 17 million posts. The posts run under different sections relating to cracking, hacking and coding, leaks, stolen and fake money, and marketplaces of illicit products such as malwares and vulnerabilities for sale.
- Exploit is another well established and known hacker forum which hosts discussions on different cybercriminal topics such as social engineering, security & vulnerabilities, social networks hacking, cryptography, malwares, programming for cracking.
- Protect yourself
Even though this is last in the article it is very important. Here are some suggestions to keep you safe in this cyber world of ours. Change privacy settings and do not use location features. Keep software applications and operating systems up-to-date. Create strong passwords by using upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Use a password manager and two methods of verification. Here are other suggestions here