Is It Illegal to Access the Dark Web?

Submitted by Erica Kastner on Tue, 03/ 10/ 20 - 12: 00 PM

Is It Illegal to Access the Dark Web?


A place rumored to be full of illicit activity, the dark web's mystery intrigues many. Because the dark web is an in-tangible concept hidden away in the corners of the Internet, i t can be hard for one to even grasp what the dark web looks like or what content it holds. If you’ve ever thought about accessing the dark web out of sheer curiosity, the question of how legal it is to access it might arise. Is it illegal to access the dark web? Read more to get all your questions answered. 

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Is It Illegal?

How Does the Dark Web Pose a Threat?

How Can I Keep My Personal Information Off the Dark Web?

Is It Illegal?

Is It Illegal to Access the Dark Web?

If you're already on an FBI watch list, then maybe you shouldn't go on the dark web, but for everyone else, it isn't inherently illegal to go on the dark web if you keep in mind a few points.

A main use of the dark web is to speak freely and uncensored, for instance by viewing and publishing content not permissible by one's government. While it is not illegal to visit most dark web sites in the US, accessing the dark web could be illegal in countries with strict Internet laws.

For instance, a US journalist may not be able to publish content through normal means if they're staying in a foreign country on assignment, especially if the assignment is highly classified or contains sensitive information. This could lead them to use dark web forums to leak information.

While publishing said content on the dark web isn't illegal in the US, it might be in the country they're working in. 

Tor, one of the main browsers used to access the dark web, is completely legal, seeing as its main purpose is to allow people the freedom of browsing the Internet anonymously without being tracked by "Big Brother". 

While the browsers you use to access the dark web are legal, the gray legal area comes into play when you consider the type of content available on the dark web.

Since the dark web is known to host illicit and illegal content, you could get in trouble for viewing certain content. Additionally, you never know which websites the FBI is tracking for an investigation. So, although you might be okay when browsing, you also might be exposing yourself to an undercover FBI sting. 

RELATED: 6 Common Dark Web Myths Debunked

How Does the Dark Web Pose a Threat?

Is the Dark Web Legal?

While accessing the dark web may not be inherently illegal in the US, that doesn't mean that the dark web doesn't pose any threats to your personal safety.

Cyber criminals know that personal information like your credit card number and social security number are valuable, which is why they steal and sell lists of private information on the dark web. Once this information is on the dark web, it's almost impossible to completely remove. 

Hackers looking to tarnish your business' reputation can post on your social media accounts or publish damaging information online.

This private information can also harm your company's bottom line, seeing as it can be used for a host of nefarious tactics, such as stealing employee identities, creating fake invoices, maxing out company and employee credit cards, and more.

If hackers access your customers' information, they can harm them using every scenario listed above. This leaves your company potentially open to data breach lawsuits. 

RELATED: Cyber Security Solutions: 12 Best Practices for Businesses

How Can I Keep My Personal Information Off the Dark Web?

How Can I Keep My Personal Information Off the Dark Web?

Even though it is almost impossible to remove your personal information from the dark web once it's been published, the best form of protection is to prevent it from getting on there in the first place.

By taking a few precautionary measures, you can help keep hackers out of your network, which will reduce the chances of your information being uploaded and sold on the dark web.

Two basic cybersecurity measures that can make a huge difference are strengthening your passwords and consistently updating your hardware and software. 

By changing passwords to include passphrases and installing two-factor authentication whenever possible on your devices, you decrease the odds of a hacker figuring out your account and device passwords.

Consistently updating your hardware and software ensures that the latest security patches are deployed, which closes any security gaps in your network that hackers can exploit.

If you are a business that wants a more holistic improvement to your security infrastructure, consider managed IT services. Managed IT services employs the latest cybersecurity tactics to secure your network.

They install the latest hardware and software, educate employees on cybersecurity best practices, create a backup and disaster recovery plan, and constantly monitor and address any cyber threats that pop up.

Cyber criminals are constantly evolving their tactics to better target you. Stay one step ahead of them by strengthening your cybersecurity measures today.

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Posted by Erica Kastner


dark web, cyber security