Getting on to the dark web can be a bit of a process. You can’t just fire up Chrome, type in an address and away you go.
There are certain configurations and software that you need to download to be able to find the sites available on the dark web.
There are a lot of different ways to go about it, each with their own pros and cons.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at two methods—Whonix and Tails—to see which will be the better fit for your browsing needs.
A Little Introduction to Accessing the Dark Web
Getting on the dark web usually refers to using the Tor browser to access content that is hidden from the rest of the internet.
While there are ways to enter the dark web without using the Tor browser, it is still the most popular.
While you can download the Tor browser directly to your Windows, Mac or Linux desktop, using it with your regular operating system makes your browsing less secure.
It is for this reason that you should layer an additional operating system over the top, without any access to your files or settings.
This is where Whonix and Tails come in. They are both operating systems that are layered over the top of your own operating system, for security, through which you can access the dark web safely.
A Tale of Tails
Tails is a live Debian distribution that you can run simply by booting up from a DVD or USB drive.
It’s free, it comes pre-loaded with Tor and sends all traffic through the Tor network. It also has no memory, so you can’t do things like add bookmarks or save files; once you shut it down and take out your drive, it’s all wiped.
Tails is a good choice to start your dark web journey if you’re a beginner as it’s pretty simple to use.
It doesn’t take much tech knowledge to figure out, there’s an easy start guide and you can browse around to your heart’s content.
If you want to poke around the dark web initially, then Tails is your best bet.
Tails doesn’t remember anything. So once you take out that drive, all you’ll have is a blank operating system.
No one can see what you’ve been doing. However, there are some innate flaws in Tails that malware has the capability to take advantage of in the right situation.
Whonix + Qubes for Heightened Security
The Qubes operating system is free, “reasonably secure” and recommended by Edward Snowden as his operating system of choice.
However, you’ll want a dedicated machine to run Qubes, make sure to shut down when you’re not using the machine, and you’ll want to layer Whonix over the top when you’re accessing the Tor network for optimum security.
Whonix runs inside of multiple virtual machines, which is a “fake” system setup that makes it almost impossible to exploit via malware.
If you’re interested in accessing the dark web on a regular basis, or want a security-conscious setup, then Qubes and Whonix is the way to go.
It doesn’t have the same qualities that Tails does, however you have the option to choose full disk encryption.
This means that whenever you shut down your computer, everything is encrypted—without your password, nothing is recoverable from your system.
You just have to ensure that this option is selected, and make sure to always shut down when your system is not in use.
If you’re happy with using your regular Windows or Mac operating system and just want to take a peek at the dark web every here and there, then using Tails to access Tor will probably be just fine for you.
However, if you want a secure setup and/or want to go on Tor regularly without being discoverable, then the combination of Qubes and Whonix is far superior.
Don’t forget to keep up-to-date with your software and operating system versions: these are regularly patched for security updates to counteract any issues discovered.
Not updating can leave you at risk of a security incident.
It’s also good practice to keep up-to-date with the best configuration to access the dark web.
These things change over the years so what was once considered the best way a couple of years ago may now be considered out-of-date by security experts.
Head on over to Tails, Qubes and/or Whonix and get to setting up your new environment to access the dark web.
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