The dark web is a part of the internet consisting of hidden sites

 that aren’t indexed by conventional search engines.

When you envision the dark web, it may conjure up images of hackers trading stolen Social Security numbers or drug dealers advertising their products online—and that’s not completely wrong. While the dark web can be a helpful tool for sourcing legitimate products or ensuring private communication, it’s also a hotspot for illegal internet activity.

When data breaches happen, your information can end up for sale on the dark web — which is why specialized software features like Norton 360 Deluxe Dark Web Monitoring are invaluable when it comes to protecting your identity online. Here’s a guide that will help you learn about the dark web, the sites that populate it, and how you can visit it safely using the added protection of a VPN and antivirus software.

What is the dark web?

The term “dark web" sounds ominous, and there's a reason for that. The dark web is a part of the internet that's made up of hidden sites you can't find through conventional web browsers. Instead, you must rely on the Tor browser—a web browser that anonymizes your web traffic within its internal network—and search engines designed specifically to unearth these hidden sites.

Dark web sites use encryption software so their visitors and owners can remain anonymous—it’s why the dark web is home to so much illegal activity . However, this side of the internet isn’t reserved for criminals. Over 2.7 million active users browse the dark web every day, and many do so for legitimate reasons.

Benefits of using the dark web

The dark web has a bad rap, but there are benefits to using it. For example, dissidents who fear political prosecution from their governments might use the dark web to communicate with each other. As many as 70.79% of users claim to use the Tor browser for anonymity, 62.28% said they use it for additional security, and 27.07% used it out of curiosity about the dark web.