Not everything on the Internet appears in Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines, and to access this content you need to use special browsers like Tor. However, downloading and investigating this browser requires taking certain precautions to ensure the safety of users and their computers. ESET, a leading company in proactive threat detection, explains the steps to configure Tor to browse the deep web safely and shares some safe sites for those interested in taking their first steps.
The concepts of Deep and Dark Web are commonly confused, which generates more myths than reality and some unnecessary fear for many users. It is known as “Deep Web” or “Deep Internet” to everything that is not indexed in search engines. That is, private or personal services that can only be accessed by knowing the IP address. Within the Deep Web there are anonymous networks that are used by people who want to preserve their privacy or browse without censorship. There is a lot of interesting content on these networks, but due to their anonymity characteristics, they often lend themselves to illegal activities. In this last portion of the Internet, where dangerous and illegal services are found, it is known as the “dark web links“.
Within the anonymous networks known in the Deep Web, the Onion network (or onion) is the best known. To access it, it is necessary to do it through the popular Tor browser. The first step is to download the latest version of the browser, which should always be done from the official site. It is available for Windows, Linux, Mac and Android.
Installation is really simple
All you have to do is select the language and choose the installation folder. Tor is a portable browser, so the installer does nothing more than unzip the necessary files and add a shortcut.
The first time the browser is started, a one-time wizard will open with the options to configure Tor or connect to it directly. In most cases it is enough to connect, but in case you need to configure an outgoing proxy to the Internet or the network has some type of surveillance or censorship, these options are available within the configuration.
When Tor is used, normally the Internet provider or the network administrator can see traffic from the computer to an IP identified as a Tor node. In other words, although they will not see the traffic specifically, they can know that the user is browsing this network. To avoid this or evade censorship, “bridges” can be used, which are equal accesses to the input nodes, but which are not publicly known. Using a bridge makes it more difficult, but not impossible, for someone to know that Tor is being used. Of course, since they are not public, it is not easy to get these bridges and many times it is best to build the bridge itself on a trusted computer and on a secure network.
Once connected to Tor, ESET recommends watching the tutorial that explains its basic operation. In the video you can see the privacy and security settings and also the operation of the “circuit” , which is the route or nodes through which the connection is passing. It is important to know that the circuit can be renewed at any time. This causes a new route to be created passing through new nodes.
The first node of the circuit is called the protection node or “entrance guard”. It is generally a fast and stable repeater that stays fixed for 2-3 months. The reason for this is to protect the user from denial of service attacks and to avoid that, eventually and after some circuit changes, the user ends up entering and leaving through two nodes controlled by the same person. In this way, the anonymity and stability of the connection is strengthened.
Since Tor is a browser based on Firefox, its settings and features are similar to the popular. Before you start visiting sites with TOR it is advisable to check your browser settings to make sure everything is in order. In addition, these settings can be modified at any time the user needs.