The dark web has become a popular topic of discussion, both on television and on the Internet. I have seen several companies offering “dark web protection”, claiming they can protect your information from being sold on the dark web. But just what is the “dark web”?

The dark web is all of the websites and web content that can be found on darknets. Darknets are networks that exist on the Internet, but can’t be accessed by regular means. These darknets could be small peer-to-peer networks, networks where people connect directly to each other, or they could be larger networks operated by organizations. Tor and I2P are two examples of these larger networks.

You likely are reading this article using a web browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Opera. Darknets, and the dark web, cannot be accessed through these browsers. You need a special browser to access the dark web. The browser you use depends on the network you use. Tor and I2P each has a browser to access its darknet.

So, how does the dark web work? When you connect to the dark web, your information, like your IP address, is routed through several other computers before reaching its destination. This routing hides your identity, guaranteeing anonymity. This high level of encryption means users geolocation and IP address cannot be found, nor can you get that information about the host. So, unlike on a regular website, where you IP address is unencrypted and can be traced, on the dark web, you are completely anonymous. This allows users to hold discussions and blogs without fear of their identities being compromised.

This anonymity has, of course, also allowed criminal activity to take place on the dark web. Illegal pornography, money laundering, black markets, hacking services, fraud, phishing scams, and terrorism all exist on the dark web. Black markets have been known to offer illegal drugs, weapons, credit cards, passports, social security numbers, and other illegal content. However, various law enforcement agencies have been able to bring down several of the popular black markets and child porn sites that used to be found on the dark web.

While the dark web does allow criminal activity to take place, not everything on it is criminal. It allows your information to be safe, which is something that everyone wants. It allows people to speak their mind without fear of persecution. It allows people to make a stand against corrupt governments around the world. And, overall, it makes sure your information stays your information.

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