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Dorothy Allen

Dorothy Allen

Source: This article was Published in help123.sg - Contributed by Member: Dorothy Allen

The internet is full of websites that are fake or fraudulent, and we understand that it can be challenging to determine if a website is credible. Here are some tips you can use to find out if a website is legitimate:

1) Ensure that the contact information is valid

Credible websites provide updated and accurate contact information. Legitimate companies will always list ways you can get in touch with them. Always validate the contact information provided if you are unsure of its credibility.

2) Look out for spelling or grammatical mistakes

Spelling mistakes and grammatical inconsistencies in a website is an indication that the site may not be credible. Legitimate companies or website owners take effort to present information in a clear and error-free manner.

3) Double-check the web address to make sure it is the original

The website address bar contains vital information about where you are on the internet and how secure the page is. Paying attention to these details can minimize the risk of falling into a phishing scam or any other form of scams which hackers or cybercriminals have created to dupe web users.

Many fraudulent websites use domain names that reference well-known brands to trick unknowing users into providing sensitive personal information. It is good to always practice caution when visiting websites to make sure it is the official website you are visiting.

4) Ensure that the website is secure

Another piece of vital information that can be picked up from the website address bar is the website's connection security indicator. A secure website is indicated by the use of "HTTPS" instead of "HTTP", which means that the website's connection is secure and any information exchanged between you and the website is encrypted and safe.

5) Is the offer too good to be true?

Fraudulent and scam websites use low prices or deals that are too good to be true to lure internet users or shoppers to purchase fake, counterfeit, or even non-existent products. If you encounter a website which offers prices that sounds too good to be true, be suspicious about it. Always ensure that the website is legitimate before making any purchase!

 Source: This article was published darkwebnews.com - Contributed by Member: Dorothy Allen

The Weird And Wonderful Deep Web

As is implicit in its very name, the deep web can best be described as a labyrinth of sorts, complete with infinitely fascinating content.

There are millions of pages of interesting indexes, databases, ideas, internal networks, communities and resources on the deep web, both innocent and nefarious in nature.

In being introduced to the concept of the deep web, one fact always manages to baffle the masses: 96 percent of the internet is not indexed by search engines such as Google and Bing.

That means only a tiny portion of the World Wide Web is accessible to you through standard means. The average internet user is only utilizing a portion of the potential the internet has to offer.

What is the deep web then?

THE DEEP WEB IS ALL OF THE INTERNET THAT CANNOT BE FOUND BY REGULAR SEARCH ENGINES, AS THE PAGES ARE NOT INDEXED IN ANY WAY.

magnifying glass looking a spider on a browser window.

Search engines like Google have software called web crawler or web spiders. They crawl to find web pages. That info is stored in the search engine’s index.

Google’s indexing system begins with a process called “crawling.”

Imagine a virtual robot spider that starts at the home page and then crawls to and from all the pages on the site that can be accessed by clicking all the links.

Google then scans the data and renders the content to send to Google’s index servers. From there, Google organizes the data by context and enters it into a base of algorithms that make up the search engine.

Beyond the boundaries of Google-able content is every bit of information you can think of.

Multi color index folders with alphabets.

Google’s index has information about hundreds of billions of web pages. It’s size is over 100,000,000 gigabytes. Source

It contains a wide range of information and data, from the inner-dashboard of your bank account after you log in to private, password-protected websites to unlisted articles and videos that might be censored or blocked in certain countries.

Below the “surface web,” there are treasure troves of possibilities. You just have to know how to find them.

The Dark Web Vs. The Deep Web

deep web vs dark web banner.

Confusion about deep web and dark web is rampant. Even big publications get it wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, the deep web and the dark web are actually two separate definitions.

The media and, frankly, much of the public that’s unacquainted with the dark web, tend to use these two concepts interchangeably. People often take one to be the synonym for the other and vice versa.

This is a common mistake for those who aren’t familiar with the subject. But, the difference between the dark web and the deep web is quite stark. The two are made up of and defined by, conflicting constructs. As such, the difference is worth clarifying.

Info graphic clarifies the concept of internet, surface web, deep web and dark web with examples and the metaphor of an ice berg.
Infographic clarifies the concept of the internet, surface web, deep web and dark web with examples and the metaphor of an iceberg.

The contrast between the deep web and the dark web is often visually described by comparing it to an iceberg. Imagine, for yourself, an iceberg:

Surface Web

Above water is all content average internet users peruse on a daily basis. This is your Facebook.com, reddit.com, your justice.gov, your harvard.edu.

Deep Web

Right below the surface of where the iceberg meets underwater is the deep web.

It’s comprised of the same general hostnames as sites on the surface web, but along with the extension of those domains.

This is the specific URL of your Facebook Messenger thread with a friend, or the Department of Justice’s public archival material, or Harvard’s internal communications system. The deep web is the majority of the internet as a whole.

Dark Web

The dwindling portion at the very bottom of the iceberg is a subset of the deep web that’s only accessible through software that guards anonymity.

Because of this, the dark web is home to entities that don’t want to be found.

To expand on that visual, it’s necessary to explain that the dark web contains URLs that end in .onion rather than .com, .gov or .edu.

The network that these .onion URLs reside on cannot be accessed with the same browser you use to access your Facebook messages, the justice department’s archive or your Harvard email account. You can use a simple Chrome or Safari to access these.

The dark web requires a specific software program (the Tor browser) to do the trick, and it offers you a special layer of anonymity that the surface web and the deep web cannot.

As such, the dark web is a place for people and activities who don’t want to be found through standard means.

It’s complete with illegal trade markets and forums, hacking communities, private communications between journalists and whistleblowers, and more.

How to Access the Deep Web

bearded man with glasses typing on computer keyboard. computer screen shows login formAccessing the deep web is not done through direct means since the information stored within it exists in databases, making it impossible for conventional search engines to obtain the data by just searching for it.

Search engines like Google only organize and index data which is available on the surface of the internet since in most cases, the URL is fixed, subject to get picked up by Google’s crawler bot, or there are no special permissions required to view the web pages.

When crawling and indexing pages, Google’s bot system prefers URLs that follow a simple directory structure; that is, a site’s main content should not be more than two subdirectory levels below the main domain of the site.

One way to visualize this concept is comparing it to a file-storing folder hierarchy—you don’t want to organize your desktop files in a way that would be too complicated with multiple routes and directions; that will completely defeat the purpose. The same idea applies here.

In the case where passwords are needed, standard browsers cannot bypass this stage since the information contained is highly confidential and so is the need to protect it.

Due to the sheer size of the deep web and the depth of the information it contains, there’s no real clear-cut way to access it.

There are different methods by which you access your email address, social media accounts or online portals, depending on the links you click in the process, the redirects you encounter, the content you enter, etc.

The information stored on the deep web is immense. And it’s most publicly accessible.

As mentioned earlier, below the deep web is the dark web which can only be accessed by the Tor browser.

A strict set of guidelines ought to be followed to ensure your activities on the dark web remain anonymous since Tor usage is often subject to monitoring by authorities and also occasionally has vulnerabilities that can leak your real IP address.

For more information about how to properly get into and use the dark web, check out a comprehensive guide on our Access Dark Web page.

What Can be Found on the Hidden Web?

The data found on the deep web includes, but certainly is not limited to…

  1. Multi-URL mega-databases that are too large for search engines to index properly. Here’s a helpful list based on category.
  2. Records, certificates, name directories, library indexes, etc.
  3. Password-protected and members-only websites.
  4. Timed access pages. This could include the internal webpage for a test you’re taking for an online course.
  5. Digital media content that’s blocked under a paywall. News organizations use this as part of their revenue model to encourage readers/viewers to subscribe and pay for journalistic reporting.
  6. The back-end dashboard of any sort of individual account, whether it be banking, social platforms, email services, etc. This is only available after an account is logged into and accessed. Then, the URL changes to a private address accordingly.
  7. Two-party user-to-user communications or threads on social media, chat services, messaging platforms, etc. The same rule for #4 applies here.

 

The deep web is extremely useful for communicating under encryption. These users include anyone who needs protection from overseeing powers.

Below are some of the main groups that benefit from the deep web’s encrypted communication capabilities.

1. Whistleblowers and journalists

protesters in front of whitehouse holding pictures of edward snowden
Edward Snowden is the most well know whistleblower in recent times.

Intelligence contractors, government or corporate employees, average citizens, ex-spies, members of the military…these are all demographics that have in the past opened up to journalists about corruption in their fields.

Under the mask of anonymity, they can communicate classified information to journalists to expose the wrongdoings.

Prolific whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning used this route to share classified documents.

2. Free speech and anti-censorship advocates, and political protesters.

man's face with a tape on lipsAnyone that seeks to evade government surveillance (which, in many cases, could later used to oppress free speech) finds the dark web a good place to communicate anonymously.

3. Citizens in oppressive regimes who need access to news and information they can’t get in their country.

office table with a tea cup, pencil on a notebook and a main typing on a laptop. Laptop screen shows the word censoredThe deep web also comprises of websites and services that are specifically gathered under the dark web category. This means they are only accessible through Tor and they always end in .onion URLs.

Dark Web Markets

The dark web is host to hundreds of underground markets that sell all kinds of illicit products and services, including…

1. Drugs

drug addictDark web markets sell every pharmaceutical product you can think of, from heroin to mushrooms to LSD. Most markets also sell legal prescription drugs, ranging from ADHD medications to testosterone pills to even Prozac.

2. Stolen information

a man stealing credit card from a person's back pocket.Stolen credit and debit card details, social security numbers, and other such information obtained through identity theft are often found on the dark web.

3. Malware, ransomware and hacking services

a person paying bag of money to another person who has paper in his hand.Hackers, phishing experts, and ransomware and malware developers regularly advertise their services on the dark web.

Cyber attacks are on the rise over the last few years precisely because the act of spreading ransomware is a lucrative practice for anyone who wants to make money by holding data for ransom. There’s also a recent spike in adware campaigns.

These products and services are often originally sourced from the dark web. Ransomware sales on darknet markets saw an uptick of 2,502 percent in 2017 alone.

4. Weapons

5 dollar note , a hand gun and some bullets on a tableFirearms, knives, and even grenades and bomb equipment can be found on dark web markets.

5. Hitman-for-hire services

a man in black suite with a hand gun standing on a road.This particular dark web market category entered into mainstream awareness after Ross Ulbricht, founder of the infamous darknet market Silk Road, was arrested and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment under charges relating to drugs, hacking, money laundering and procuring murder; the latter charge was particularly influential in persuading the jury to convict Ulbricht of other charges in addition to hiring a hitman to murder someone.

It’s also what gained the story international public attention among people unfamiliar with the idea of darknet markets.

There are several known markets that deal explicitly in the contracted assassin field like Hitman Network, for example.

Although, it is worth noting that scammers will often use this “industry” to lure in potentially vulnerable victims and run off with their money without getting the job done.

Child pornography

Unfortunately, the cloak of anonymity brought by the Tor network also brings in rather a heavy share of pedophiles and predators—over 80 percent, one study found.

Some darknet platforms allow users to disseminate pornographic images and videos of children, and some platforms even provide the means for users to arrange meetings with their victims.

International law enforcement has busted several such platforms within the last few years, arresting thousands of child abusers and human traffickers in the process. The number of users behind these sites are staggering.

One that was busted by German law enforcement earlier this year, was Elysium, which managed to reel in more than 87,000 users worldwide.

In 2014, the FBI cracked down on Playpen, another child pornography site with 150,000 users.

The FBI apprehended its creator and lead administrator and proceeded to operate the site to gather information on its users.

An investigation followed that led to more than 800 U.S. and abroad arrests, and more than 300 children being identified or rescued internationally.

Torrented content

Unreleased games, movies and television shows galore are easy to come by on the dark web. More sites are moving to the dark web in order to evade the increasing threat of legal action over censorship or copyright charges.

Leaked data dumps

This is a hot category, at least dominating all headlines for months after a major leak. There have been dozens of interesting leaks in the last five years. Here is a comprehensive and visually-compelling chart of them all. Just a couple of the most notorious leaks include…

Adult Friend Finder

The Adult Friend Finder breaches in 2015 and 2016 which collectively exposed the sexual preference data, emails, usernames, IP addresses and login history of more than 303 million users of the hookup network.

Ashley Madison

An online dating service that markets itself to people who want to cheat on their spouses was hacked in July 2015.

After some months of hesitation, the hacked data of around 32 million Ashley Madison users was ultimately released by the enigmatic hacking group The Impact Team.

The leak included names, phone numbers, addresses, member profiles, as well as credit card details and records.

The Ashley Madison leak was followed by an exhaustive extortion campaign in which many victims of the breach were tricked into paying scammers cash in exchange for secrets that would supposedly damage their reputation.

There’s an excellent TV documentary that chronicles how the Ashley Madison hack unfolded, also detailing the subsequent scandals that blew up afterwards.

WikiLeaks

Ever since the site was created in 2006 by computer programmer and activist Julian Assange, WikiLeaks data dumps have received massive public attention from around the world. It’s worth a whole section but in the interest of clarity, here’s a snapshot of what the whistleblowing website covers, plus examples in each category.

Facts & Tidbits About the Deep Web

1. It enhances privacy to a great extent.

main looking a computer screenEncryption is precisely the main function of the deep web. It is what defines it, and it is what keeps it alive.

Because of the solid layer of encryption offered by the deep web, it is regularly utilized by individuals and groups that are vulnerable to surveillance, hacks or other parties interested in compromising their security.

This demographic encompasses people such as journalists, whistleblowers, citizens living under oppressive regimes riddled with censorship, and even people who are in unsafe and abusive relationships who need a way to communicate safely with others.

The Chinese government has notoriously excessive censorship standards. So notorious, in fact, that the rest of the world has taglined the nickname, The Great Firewall of China.

By utilizing the deep web’s encryption along with a private network or proxy, Chinese citizens can bypass the firewall to access whatever content they desire.

2. The Tor Onion Router was created by the government.

Interestingly, the first individuals to think up a way to bypass the portal into endless possibility was the United States government.

In the 1990s, a team of Navy mathematicians crafted the Tor Onion Router technology to allow military units and government agencies to communicate classified material over an encrypted network.

This is the basis for the dark web we know today

3. It comprises most of the internet.

Most estimates say the deep web is made up of approximately 96 percent of the internet. The smaller 4 percent is indexed by search engines like Google and Bing.

Common Misconceptions About the Deep Web

1. The deep web and the dark web are the same.

As is explained above, the deep web and the dark web are entirely different, and they both require special addresses to access the content found in each case.

The deep web can be accessed by a protocol that uses non-indexed web links, rather than pages you can easily find through a Google Search.

By contrast, the dark web is accessed using the Tor browser. Links there operate under a .onion domain.

2. It is only a source of illegal goods and services.

The deep web does not entirely deal with illegal goods and services. Because most of the content on the deep web is mostly publically accessible with backends, indexes, and data, it doesn’t necessarily draw illegal acts. The dark web, however, is more of a haven for criminals.

3. It is an anonymous platform.

Just because the deep web is encrypted does not mean it’s anonymous. It’s entirely probable for users’ IP addresses and locations to be leaked.

The best mindset to have is to assume that your information inevitably will be leaked (even if the chance is low).

You’re best protected using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on the deep web if you’re doing anything that’s subject to any scrutiny, regardless of whether or not it’s legal. This is just a smart security enhancement measure.

On the dark web, in particular, you should use a combination of Tor (to access .onion sites) and VPN (to protect your anonymity and make your IP address near-untraceable).

4. It’s completely secure.

Similar to point #3, it’s important to assert that just because the deep web is encrypted does not mean it’s secure.

A good “What Not to Do” case that’s explicitly applied to the dark web can be made using Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht as an example.

The founder of the notorious darknet drug trade site made a series of careless actions that eventually led the FBI to his identity and location.

That said, people can also be smart about running a darknet market without getting caught. It takes thinking ahead of law enforcement.

Dangers of the Deep Web

1. Hackers.

7 hackers in two rowsHackers are ever at bay wandering around on the deep and dark web, and they will seize the opportunity to take advantage of an existing situation.

What’s more is that those who need some valuable information from a particular entity will hire them to undertake various operations, such as obtain confidential data or compromise a certain system to give desired results.

Various confirmed reports of data breaches and loss of funds due to hacking have been reported in the recent past. And the number of cases in which hacks occur is ever-increasing.

2. Getting caught for doing something illegal.

main sitting while raising hands.Hundreds of people have been caught and arrested by law enforcement for undertaking illegal operations on the deep and dark web.

Sometimes, these people were, in fact, innocent; the government has a track record for making examples out of people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time—trying to send a message that they’re serious about crackdowns.

One such case involved Barrett Brown, a journalist, activist and sort of press office for the prolific hacktivism group, Anonymous.

Inside a thread in Project PM, the online investigative community he founded, Brown stumbled across a zipped file containing Stratfor data.

This was part of the infamous Stratfor email hack of 2012, which leaked the global intelligence firm’s internal communications and client records to WikiLeaks who published it as part of its Global Intelligence Files (GiFiles) leak.

Brown copied and pasted that link of hacked data onto another forum so he and his team could discuss its contents for a larger investigation about the intelligence agency.

That’s all he did…copy and paste. Later, the feds arrested Brown and charged him with possessing stolen content.

Several other factors could expose your identity while on the deep web, such as using your real name and email to post on forums. These tend to give third parties a clue of who you are.

For this reason, people can expose their identity without you even knowing it.

This would give investigators enough time to monitor their activities and gather sufficient evidence to incriminate them after an arrest.

3. Spying by ISPs and the government.

three suited bodies with cameras as their headFor a fact, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) can watch over every single detail their customers are doing on the internet since they are offering the service and have access to their systems’ databases.

On the other hand, governments possess the heavily-funded infrastructure and tools they use to spy on their targets, many of whom are average everyday citizens. WikiLeaks has extensively compiled leaked secrets about this deceptive practice.

Some of the leaks have revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spies on its targets by installing Trojans and malware that undertake various types of operations.

The WikiLeaks “Vault 7” dossier mentions how the CIA has developed tools for each device that can access the internet and, as such, one can be monitored without knowing.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks also found that the CIA spies on its intergovernmental counterparts, mainly the National security Agency (NSA).

Some countries have strict guidelines that govern citizens’ use of and behavior on the internet.

Many of these policies also extend to the hidden web, assuming users will ultimately get caught evading the surface web. And as such, those found violating the laws are subjected to penalties that include fines or jail sentences.

With an increased level of cybercrime, then such measures ought to be in place to ensure that no one suffers at the expense of others.

Deep Web Anonymity: What Is It & How to Achieve It

Staying anonymous is imperative on the hidden web. Seeing as how anonymity is one of its primary functions, why wouldn’t you want to do the best you can to achieve it?

Here are the main programs you should download and guidelines you should follow to stay anonymous on the deep and dark web:

1. Tor (The Onion Router)

Tor has its origins in the United States Naval Research Laboratory, where it was created by a team of mathematicians in the late 1990s to give the government an extra layer of encryption in communicating sensitive messages.

Its main application was to protect intergovernmental communications and intelligence information from being intercepted by foreign entities.

Today, the browser is part of a larger open-source initiative called The Tor Project, which is, in part, funded by the U.S. Department of Defence.

It is tasked with creating a series of programs to access and improve functions of The Onion Router (Tor) network, which is what the Tor browser operates through.

The Onion Router network is an extremely unique technical invention. It is filled with websites that end with a .onion domain, contrary to the commonplace domain suffixes found on the surface web such as .com, .org, .edu, and countless others.

The Tor browser can be used to access the surface web, the deep web and the dark web. And it’s easy to use since its interface and intuitiveness is nearly identical to that of surface web-only browser Mozilla Firefox as the front end is  clone of it.

But when you look under the hood of how The Tor Browser actually works, its inner functions are completely different.

When you use the Tor browser, your connection bumps off a set of relays run by volunteers from around the world on a distributed network that extends from one end node to the other. The distributed nature of the network is precisely what allows for the Tor browser to protect your anonymity.

It attempts to prevent your location and browsing habits from being picked up by the sites you visit and communicate with.

So, The Tor Browser has the ability to protect your anonymity in a superficial sense (provided you don’t register accounts on dark web sites with your real name and sensitive information). But just because the Tor network is mostly anonymous does not mean it’s secure.

However, when using the browser, a few measures ought to be taken to ensure that your IP address is not leaked.

Among them is to make sure that all other applications are closed and to keep the Tor browser to its default size.

Other guidelines ought to be followed to ensure that your privacy and security is safeguarded while you’re browsing through the dark web in particular.

These guidelines involve using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which will give you an extra boost in security as you navigate the dark web and also give you a fail safe from Tor vulnerabilities such as when it leaks your real IP, as it has before.

2. Virtual Private Networks

how vpn worksTo further protect yourself on the deep web, one should ensure that your Virtual Private Network is turned on even before launching the Tor browser since it hides the actual location of an individual by changing their IP address (which is usually used to track the location of a person) to a random location on the globe.

For example, if you’re in Phoenix, Arizona and you want to browse the internet freely (be it the surface web, dark web or the deep web), you can do so by installing a trusty VPN and running it while you’re online.

The VPN will mask your real IP address (where you are, in Phoenix), and make it so your IP address appears to be registered to a different, random location anywhere in the world.

This way, anyone who wants to find out your IP address will not be able to do so—your IP address will appear to be registered in another location, like Mexico City or Copenhagen or Toronto, and so on.

Furthermore, a VPN will encrypt all of your information, sent and received, over the internet or dark web. This means that if someone could intercept it, then they can not tell what you are doing anyway.

3. Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) Encryption

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a communication system in which Important messages are encrypted using the receiver’s PGP encryption code.

When the message is sent, the public key of the receiver is used, and then the receiver uses their private key to decrypt the message.

The practice is used in darknet markets where vendors and sellers use the encryption method to protect the confidentiality of information they send between each other.

The average internet user may also find PGP useful for communicating online, as the reality of government surveillance continues to loom over citizens’ everyday lives.

On a broader level, PGP is used in instances where sensitive material is being exchanged between two parties.

This includes conversations about classified material between journalists and whistleblowers, as well as intergovernmental communications between federal entities.

Dark Web News has published a comprehensive guide here that outlines the importance of PGP and walks readers through the process of setting one up.

4. Anonymous Email

Just as the name suggests, anonymous email offers an individual increased online privacy to a great extent.

Regardless of what activities a person is pursuing on the deep web, they are always recommended to use an anonymous email in doing so. That is, they should not use their real email address, as it could easily disclose their identity by revealing their name.

When creating the email account, one should ensure that the username does not resemble their actual name so as to avoid being subject to government surveillance, fraud, scams, phishing attempts and other security issues.

There are a number of anonymous email services—most notably, HideMyAssTorGuard and Guerrilla Mail—you can try out if you’d like. A full guide on this topic has been made available by Dark Web News here.

5. Passwords and usernames

keyboard,notebook and a green highlighterAmong the blunders that disclosed the real identity and ultimate arrest of former Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht (alias “Dread Pirate Roberts”) was that he used his real name and email address to post to public forums about his activities on the dark web.

After this, it was easy for the feds to track him down and arrest him.

This shows the importance of using an anonymous username to undertake activities on the deep web.

The use of strong passwords is essential as well, as it ensures the account is not easily compromised by not only hackers, but also close associates. Strong passwords based on a given website will vary by meeting a specific criterion.

But for starters, a secure password should comprise of at least eight characters, have words that are not found in the English dictionary, consist of at least one uppercase letter, one number and special characters.

The general rule of thumb is: the more complex the password, the more secure the account. A simple password manager program can help with this.

When it comes to the username, it remains the responsibility of an individual to ensure that it is not similar to their actual name just as in the case of anonymous email handles.

6. Blocking the Webcam

thumb putting a black patch on laptop webcamHackers are ever at bay and they’re always ready to capitalize on any vulnerability within a given system so that they can break into it.

One lucrative form of ransomware attack is to take advantage of a computer’s vulnerability to install spyware that can take photos and videos via the webcam, only to send the data directly to the hacker in real time.

They can then demand a ransom from you and, depending on the nature of the photos/videos they capture with the webcam, chances are you’d be even more incentivized to pay up the ransom.

An easy fix to this is simply taping over your webcam or covering it in some way so hackers won’t be able to collect visual records of your everyday life if your computer is compromised

This is a frightening, but plausible possibility. It’s no wonder why the CEO of Facebook has taped his webcam.

Deep Web Browsing Tips

There are many factors that compromise the online safety and security of a user while on the deep web, despite the fact that you can just use a regular browser to access it.

The average Joe will probably leave more traces that reveal their identity as compared to an expert who has been operating on the hidden web for quite some time.

You’ll get the hang of it once you’ve had some time to get used to the deep web, but below are just a few best practices to keep in mind for your safety.

(Note that all of these tips apply to both the dark web and the deep web. The only difference is that you cannot access the dark web without using the Tor browser, as you will not be able to reach .onion links on a regular browser.)

  • Practice safe clicking

man clicking on a mouseAvoid all malicious links that aren’t sourced from a trusted website or user.

If you’re browsing the dark web in particular, you should always ALWAYS double check and even triple check to make sure you’re using the current.onion URL for whatever site you intend to visit.

Dark web links are constantly susceptible to change, so it’s best you check with a reputable source to make sure the link is verified.

  • Watch what you download

Don’t download applications, .pdf’s, or anything from untrusted sources or websites. It’s as simple as that.

  • Get an up-to-date antivirus program

hand on the keyboard of laptopThe devices used to access the hidden web should be clean and have an up-to-date antivirus that ensures their computer is not contaminated.

Hackers will often infiltrate a device by installing spyware on the browsers the victims are using. By doing so, information about the user’s activities is sent to the spyware developer in real-time.

  • Connect to trusted networks.

hands coming out of two monitors on the opposite to each otherLast but not least, don’t ever connect to unsecure or unknown networks. This includes the Wi-Fi at your friendly cyber cafe or coffee shop. Sometimes it’s best to just use a network you trust.

The dark and deep web are filled with the interesting content of all different categories. Dark web links are followed by a .onion parameter, and deep web links could contain any other domain.

Here are tables containing the top 10 most popular sites on both the dark and deep web, along with corresponding links.

[Table Coming Soon]

Dark Web News has compiled the biggest source of deep web links and screenshots online, and it’s continuously growing.

Deep Web Screenshots

Real-time or recent screen captures of live deep websites are incredibly useful for anyone who’s thinking about exploring on the deep web.

Screenshots give you a chance to take a peek into the website and its potential offerings without having to visit it yet.

Once you’ve decided it’s worth the dive, you can enter the site at the correct link associated with the screenshot.

Dark Web News has the largest selection of screenshots on the surface web.

If you head over to this page, then you can click on the eye symbol for any record in the table to view the screenshot of the site.

Deep Web Search Engines & Tools

The deep web does not have Google because of its prime characteristic of having data that is not indexed. This might sound like a disadvantage given the fact that Google has spoiled us all with easy and quick search returns.

But it’s imperative to remember that the entire purpose of the deep web is that it’s an open source of information that anyone is welcome to take stock in, and it has much MUCH more to offer than any Google search.

You just have to know how to harness the deep web to your advantage.

There are some search engines made for use in the dark web, and one of them is GRAMs, which happens to be the very first search engine of its kind to be developed to browse through the Tor network.

Due to the rising number of darknet markets, the developers saw the need to create a search engine that is convenient for dark web users.

It enables them to search the Tor network for markets, and it also provides guides for purchases and sales.

Some other alternative search engines and tools for finding and consuming content on the deep and dark web include:

  • DuckDuckGo: This is an anonymous search engine that keeps no logs of users’ browsing behaviors, search results, history, cookies, etc. It’s mainly used for browsing the surface web in a more anonymous way, but it picks up deep web links too.
  • Torch (xmh57jrzrnw6insl.onion): With over 10 million users and years of positive reputation-building under its belt, Torch has gained notoriety among the deep and dark web communities for delivering high quality search services of the hidden internet. It’s based on the Chromium suite and is compatible with Chrome extensions and add-ons.
  • Uncensored Hidden Wiki (zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page): The oldest and truest form of dark web search mastery is the Hidden Wiki. It is a repository for links to all sorts of websites on the darknet, from drug markets to fanbases to uncensored news publications to even some darker content having to do with human trafficking and abuse. That’s why you should be careful what you click on when you scroll through the Hidden Wiki; it certainly doesn’t discriminate on what graphic content is on the list.
  • The WWW Virtual Library is the oldest and most vast catalog of internet websites of all time. It was created at the European Organization for Nuclear Research by the founder of the World Wide Web and HTML himself, Tim Berners-Lee. The database has educational and encyclopedic references on virtually any topic thinkable.
  • This list has some additional search engines you can try out based on your needs.
  • Ichidian: A launched recently search engine helps users access dark web URLs in a faster and easier manner than others. It’s new, so it may take some time to adjust to its new user base.
  • notEvil (hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion): This is also an in-depth list of deep and dark web links. notEvil has been around for some time, and is widely known among the community as a good source for links.

Deep Web Reddit Resources

reddit logoReddit is a major source of information about deep web topics. Subreddit forums offer deep web users the opportunity to freely express themselves on various issues, obtaining first-hand information on anything that concerns the deep and dark web.

However, since the main function of Reddit is to be a tool for expressing uncensored views and opinions, deep/dark web forums on Reddit have indeed landed people into trouble with law enforcement since some tend to overshare and use their real names to post comments about their practices.

Users in dark/deep web subreddit communities can sometimes be at odds with each other. If you’re just an average onlooker, you’ll find the whole culture behind this scene incredibly fascinating to watch.

Users are downright combative with one another on a regular basis; sometimes comedically so. But that’s the way of life within this niche. Trolling is not only tolerated, it’s accepted.

Hackers will often openly brag about their exploits and taunt others for not being able to meet the challenge due to their “lower” skill sets.

As a result, angry fellow commenters may be motivated to dox that user. This happened recently with a user named PhishKingz, a phishing guru of sorts who has been behind some of the dark web’s notable phishing campaigns.

Many of those who engage in fraud and illegal activities end up exposing their identity to some extent.

Additionally, some darknet market users, admins, vendors and buyers tend to end up getting caught for accidentally exposing their identity.

And as a result, investigative bodies and law enforcement agencies monitor the subreddit forums for any leads of persons that may be engaging in criminal actives.

Consequently, this has over time led to the rest of quite a number of people.

For this reason, those posting on Reddit should ensure that they have turned on their VPN before logging into their account (creates with an anonymous email) and posting.

Failure to do so could lead to the actual IP address of the user getting exposed, making it easier to get traced.

Other measures include use of fake email addresses for making Reddit accounts, as well as fake usernames. The username should no way resemble the actual name or identity of the person.

Below are some of the subreddit forums that relate to the deep web:

Deep Web

https://www.reddit.com/r/deepweb shares verifiable tools, resources and general information that deep web users find interesting and helpful.

https://www.reddit.com/r/DeepWebTopics is a topical discussion board where users posts, stories, questions, observations and comments about things they’ve seen or want to see on the deep web.

https://www.reddit.com/r/DeepWebIntel is a general forum for deep web users to communicate, created by a user of the same name.

https://www.reddit.com/r/onions is more dark web-related, but it’s a helpful source for finding out more about what the darknet has to offer.

https://www.reddit.com/r/deepwebexperiences is a spot where people can share some of the interesting things they’ve seen on the deep web.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WikiLeakshttps://www.reddit.com/r/WikiLeaksDiscussions (invite-only) and https://www.reddit.com/r/WikileaksTaskForce are all dedicated to free and open conversation around WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and whistleblowing in general.

https://www.reddit.com/r/DeepWebMysteries/ is a community of citizen investigators who look for hidden meanings and patterns in deep web sites. It’s invite-only, so you have to message the moderators to get access to the subreddit.

https://www.reddit.com/r/deepwebpics is exactly what it sounds like—a bunch of screenshots from deep web sites, or screenshots depicting content that’s related to the deep web in some way.

Carding

https://www.reddit.com/r/BankMoney is where users post questions and answers related to anything and everything fraud and carding-related.

https://www.reddit.com/r/carding is a carding forum community that’s private and requires an invite link.

https://www.reddit.com/r/cardingfraud shares ways to make a long-term profit by carding; it’s also private and requests an invite link.

Dark Net Markets

https://www.reddit.com/r/DarkNetMarkets2 is definitively the most widely used subreddit for dark web market vendors, buyers, admins, observers and browsers to communicate and swap tips and information about the associated darknet market brands.

https://www.reddit.com/r/DNMAvengers compiles an index of tested products from confirmed darknet market buyers, in a bid to add more accountability to the scene; the subreddit is currently under construction, but it’s still accepting new submissions.

Hacking

https://www.reddit.com/r/hacking is a subreddit for anyone in the hacking community, whether it be full-time hackers, curious users who want to tip their toes into the vice, or onlookers who simply enjoy reading countless threads of hacker culture on Reddit.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Hacking_Tutorials is a peer-to-peer educational subreddit for methods, tools, resources and tips hackers can use to carry out their activities.

https://www.reddit.com/r/hackingwithswift is a place where iOS and Swift developers and hackers can post questions/answers, swap comments and suggestions, and share cool projects with one another.

Deep Web Horror Stories

The number of creepy stories about the invisible web as of now is endless. And what’s more is that these numbers grow day by day.

Red Rooms

As its name suggests, “Red Rooms” are places where people are brutally slaughtered on camera for anyone inside the chat room to watch from home.

Due to the fact that most witnesses of this phenomena only have their experience and memory to use as evidence, there have been several rumors that Red Rooms are actually a hoax.

Observers have claimed that the sites will offer a “Pay Per View” button where users provide payment in Bitcoins to gain access to watch the content.

If Red Rooms are to be believed as true, they’d be best described as live-streamed snuff films, formatted for the Internet Age. Or,  they could very well be just a twisted scam.

Human Experiments

As scary as it sounds, this is indeed something that occurs in the dark web.

There is an enigmatic site called The Human Experiment, run by a group that abducts human beings and performs a whole host of experiments on them just for fun.

The acts performed on humans include starvation, radiation exposure, injecting chemicals into the body, among many others.

Sexual Content

Some of the content found on the deep web is highly explicit, and the scenes are not worth exploring especially for the faint-hearted.

Abductions and kidnapping for sexual purposes have been long documented on various dark websites.

There have been numerous accounts and stories of innocent wanderers of the dark web (usually newbies to the scene) who accidentally stumble upon this type of content. As a result, they've emotionally scarred for a long while afterward, or even indefinitely.

The dark web often hosts to content that depicts humans performing acts of bestiality on animals and engaging minors in sexual acts.

The price for these videos or photos depends on the site but on some occasions, the content is available to download for free.

Viewing this type of content is illegal in almost all countries and Dark Web News do not condone it at all. We are just reporting on what is actually found here.

Summoning Demons

Very crazy, right? But it is indeed a vice that many are performing.

These sites are formed by members of cults who engage each other by showing bizarre rituals, such as eating human flesh and drinking human blood in the act of offering sacrifices.

Creepy Games

There are some seriously dark games that are floating around the dark web right now.

One such example is the Blue Whale Suicide Challenge, which is loosely linked to around 130 deaths of teenagers throughout Russia as of September 2017 (because of ongoing investigations, that link has yet to be proven definitively).

The games starts off by trying to get the player addicted to it over a time period of 50 days by rewarding them for completing challenges that range in severity, from watching scary movies to physically hurting themselves.

The more the user plays the game and goes through more advanced levels, the more challenges they’re required to solve. At the end, the game tasks them with committing suicide.

Deep Web Torrent Sites

Perhaps it goes without saying, but extreme caution is absolutely required when undertaking any sort of torrenting activity.

Torrenting on the surface web can be dangerous, as your IP address and browsing history are readily made available to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Entertainment producers are incredibly touchy about their copyrighted content so, to avoid legal action, it’s best to use torrent sites under the cloak of anonymity on the deep web—using the Tor browser or I2P, another network that serves to protect users’ privacy.

(Here’s a plug to Dark Web News’ in-depth Tor guide, which can help get you started.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most reliable torrenting platforms, and their corresponding links:

The Pirate Bay — uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion

TPB is one of the most popular and all-inclusive torrent platforms that’s dominated the scene since its start in 2003. The surface web site is periodically subject to domain seizures, but the Tor version has remained intact.

Solarmovie — solarmovie6rystf.onion

As its name states, Solarmovie is a searchable database of movies. It covers pretty much every genre you can think of.

Demonoid — demonhkzoijsvvui.onion:8080

This is a longstanding BitTorrent-enabled discussion forum that facilitates peer-to-peer file sharing. The surface web address is: Demonoid.pw.

BTDB

Standing for BitTorrent Database, BTDB is a search engine for searching nodes that distribute torrent files via the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol. There doesn’t appear to be a .onion link for this one, but it’s accessible via the surface web here.

Wrap Up

The deep web is a fascinating place to be for any internet denizen. It’s a rabbit hole of internet wonder, offering all sorts of knowledge, records, data and content a person could spend days sifting through.

It may take a few steps to navigate your way through the various links and virtual pathways to find the insights you’re looking for, but that’s all part of the fun.

The deep web is beckoning your entrance. And if you’re up for the task, you might find the answers you’ve been looking for within its depths.

At this year’s RSA Conference, Tripwire conducted a survey where it asked 200 security professionals to weigh in on the state of phishing attacks.

More than half (58 percent) of respondents stated their organizations had seen an increase in phishing attacks in the past year. Despite that increase, most companies didn’t feel prepared to protect themselves against phishing scams. Indeed, a slight majority (52 percent) stated they were “not confident” in their executives’ ability to successfully spot a phishing scam.

The growth of phishing attacks in both frequency and sophistication, as noted by Verizon in its 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, poses a significant threat to all organizations. It’s important that all companies know how to spot some of the most common phishing scams if they are to protect their corporate information.

With that in mind, I will use a guide developed by CloudPages to discuss six common phishing attacks: deceptive phishing, spear phishing, CEO fraud, pharming, Dropbox phishing, and Google Docs phishing. I will then provide some useful tips on how organizations can protect themselves against these phishing scams.

1. DECEPTIVE PHISHING

part-4

The most common type of phishing scam, deceptive phishing refers to any attack by which fraudsters impersonate a legitimate company and attempt to steal people’s personal information or login credentials. Those emails frequently use threats and a sense of urgency to scare users into doing the attackers’ bidding.

For example, PayPal scammers might send out an attack email that instructs them to click on a link in order to rectify a discrepancy with their account. In actuality, the link leads to a fake PayPal login page that collects a user’s login credentials and delivers them to the attackers.

The success of a deceptive phish hinges on how closely the attack email resembles a legitimate company’s official correspondence. As a result, users should inspect all URLs carefully to see if they redirect to an unknown website. They should also look out for generic salutations, grammar mistakes, and spelling errors scattered throughout the email.

2. SPEAR PHISHING

part-5

Not all phishing scams lack personalization – some use it quite heavily.

For instance, in spear phishing scams, fraudsters customize their attack emails with the target’s name, position, company, work phone number and other information in an attempt to trick the recipient into believing that they have a connection with the sender.

The goal is the same as deceptive phishing: lure the victim into clicking on a malicious URL or email attachment, so that they will hand over their personal data.

Spear-phishing is especially commonplace on social media sites like LinkedIn, where attackers can use multiple sources of information to craft a targeted attack email.

To protect against this type of scam, organizations should conduct ongoing employee security awareness training that, among other things, discourages users from publishing sensitive personal or corporate information on social media. Companies should also invest in solutions that are capable of analyzing inbound emails for known malicious links/email attachments.

3. CEO FRAUD

part-6

Spear phishers can target anyone in an organization, even top executives. That’s the logic behind a “whaling” attack, where fraudsters attempt to harpoon an executive and steal their login credentials.

In the event their attack proves successful, fraudsters can choose to conduct CEO fraud, the second phase of a business email compromise (BEC) scam where attackers impersonate an executive and abuse that individual’s email to authorize fraudulent wire transfers to a financial institution of their choice.

Whaling attacks work because executives often don’t participate in security awareness training with their employees. To counter that threat, as well as the risk of CEO fraud, all company personnel – including executives – should undergo ongoing security awareness training.

Organizations should also consider amending their financial policies, so that no one can authorize a financial transaction via email.

4. PHARMING

part-7

As users become more savvy to traditional phishing scams, some fraudsters are abandoning the idea of “baiting” their victims entirely. Instead, they are resorting to pharming – a method of attack which stems from domain name system (DNS) cache poisoning.

The Internet’s naming system uses DNS servers to convert alphabetical website names, such as “www.microsoft.com,” to numerical IP addresses used for locating computer services and devices.

Under a DNS cache poisoning attack, a pharmer targets a DNS server and changes the IP address associated with an alphabetical website name. That means an attacker can redirect users to a malicious website of their choice even if the victims entered in the correct website name.

To protect against pharming attacks, organizations should encourage employees to enter in login credentials only on HTTPS-protected sites. Companies should also implement anti-virus software on all corporate devices and implement virus database updates, along with security upgrades issued by a trusted Internet Service Provider (ISP), on a regular basis.

5. DROPBOX PHISHING

part-8

While some phishers no longer bait their victims, others have specialized their attack emails according to an individual company or service.

Take Dropbox, for example. Millions of people use Dropbox every day to back up, access and share their files. It’s no wonder, therefore, that attackers would try to capitalize on the platform’s popularity by targeting users with phishing emails.

One attack campaign, for example, tried to lure users into entering their login credentials on a fake Dropbox sign-in page hosted on Dropbox itself.

To protect against Dropbox phishing attacks, users should consider implementing two-step verification (2SV) on their accounts. For a step-by-step guide on how to activate this additional layer of security, please click here.

6. GOOGLE DOCS PHISHING

part-9

Fraudsters could choose to target Google Drive similar to the way they might prey upon Dropbox users.

Specifically, as Google Drive supports documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos and even entire websites, phishers can abuse the service to create a web page that mimics the Google account log-in screen and harvests user credentials.

A group of attackers did just that back in July of 2015. To add insult to injury, not only did Google unknowingly host that fake login page, but a Google SSL certificate also protected the page with a secure connection.

Once again, users should consider implementing 2SV to protect themselves against this type of threat. They can enable the security feature via either SMS messaging or the Google Authenticator app.

CONCLUSION

Using the guide above, organizations will be able to more quickly spot some of the most common types of phishing attacks. But that doesn’t mean they will be able to spot each and every phish. On the contrary, phishing is constantly evolving to adopt new forms and techniques.

With that in mind, it’s imperative that organizations conduct security awareness training on an ongoing basis so that their employees and executives stay on top of emerging phishing attacks.

Source: This article was published tripwire.com By DAVID BISSON

 

The Declassification Engine project is using advanced data mining tools to uncover what’s beneath the big black marker.

On Google, you can find specialized tabs that only search all sorts of specific results, like news articles, images, patents, and scientific studies. The Declassification Engine is an ambitious project that aims to help citizens search for and uncover one very particular sort of result: U.S. government secrets.

The project, based out of Columbia University and launched about a year ago, uses advanced computer science methods in big data, machine learning, and natural language processing to scale up what some scholars have been struggling to do by hand for a decade: Document the rise of government secrecy, learn more about what the government isn’t releasing, and uncover new patterns and information in the millions of documents that do get declassified but contain heavy redactions.

“The Sphere of Influence” is an interactive visualization of State Department cables, mapping where government secrets travel around the globe and helping to flag anomalies.

Without more accountability, the historians, statisticians, computer scientists, and lawyers involved in the Declassification Engine project fear that our past will be “shredded in secrecy.”

“People have always complained about official secrecy, but over time there’s been measurable growth in the government secrets that are created,” says Columbia University historian Matthew Connelly, the co-leader of the project. “The whole system is breaking down.”

Today, to actually review the classified documents being created every year would demand the full-time work of every single federal and state government employee in the country, the project’s site says. The National Declassification Center has a current and rather hopeless backlog of 370 million pages of documents, and the government spends $10 billion protecting its secrets. It allocates only $50 million to declassification work.

The Redaction Archive is another tool that is turning up matches of redacted and unredacted documents side-by-side to uncover what’s beneath the black marker.

The tools that the Declassification Engine have created thus far offer a glimpse into why the overabundance of secrecy hurts American democracy.

Their first mission was to gather as many declassified documents as possible into one database. The National Archives and other government troves are one source of information. But researchers have also collected others, such as scanned and full-text documents from private database companies like ProQuest and Gale Cengage Learning. Researchers involved in the project are now working with the Internet Archive to analyze the millions of PDFs that group has scraped from government sites since 1996. It also hopes to incorporate the results of FOIA requests, which are housed in online reading rooms of government agencies.

From this work, programmers and scientists are now starting to create apps, tools, and visualizations that will help others do analysis and searches.

Often, for example, the government posts declassified documents in different places and at different times–which means the redactions can differ. The Redaction Archive is turning up matches of redacted and unredacted documents side-by-side to uncover where they differ. This reveals the unknown text (like one sentence redacted from a 1969 memo from Henry Kissinger to Nixon which read: “In Israel, pressures [sic] will increase to deploy strategic missiles and nuclear weapons.”), and it will also help academics to do large-scale pattern analysis of the “logic” of redaction. A “Redactometer” under development will measure the number of redactions in documents being released, to try to provide a degree of accountability to the process.

“The Sphere of Influence” is a massive visualization of the State Department’s early electronic diplomatic cables from 1973 to 1976 (the government hasn’t yet released subsequent years). It seeks spatial patterns in the million declassified cables and also at the metadata, such as the “to” and “from” fields and certain topic words, from still-classified cables.

One area of development is an accurate model that will try to predict which embassy a cable came from based on the language and topics used. “What’s interesting is the 2%–when it can’t accurately classify a cable. It means the cable is off-topic. What’s interesting about these off-topic cables is they tend to be classified a secret,” Connolly says. “Someone who is dealing with a million cables and they don’t even know where to begin–it’s a way to start.”

Already, there have been new insights from these tools. The research found that cables with the word “Boulder” in the subject or file name were 130 times more likely to be withheld from the public’s eye. Connolly found out this term referred to “Operation Boulder,” a little-known program that existed in the 1970s that subjected Arabic visa applicants to an FBI investigation and that the Bush administration went to greater lengths to keep secret after 9/11. After learning about Operation Boulder through the Declassification Engine project, historians have delved in deeper and produced an exhibit about the secret program.

The Declassification Engine project, which is really just getting started, aims to help both researchers, journalists, and citizens but also hopes to help the government itself prioritize and speed-up its declassification backlog. An advisory board has been set up to make sure the “big data” processing proceeds with caution and doesn’t tread too far into the realm of secrets that, for valid reasons, should be kept as such.

“Secrets are the coin of the realm of government. It’s what people trade to get what they need, whether that’s access or other information. Because there’s not a penalty to over classification, you get this built-in inflationary pressure where the currency of classification gets debased,” says Connelly. Releasing this pressure is clearly one motivation for the Bradley Mannings and Edward Snowdens of the world, he notes. But the Declassification Engine and other forms of more measured accountability could work, too.

Source: This article was published fastcompany.com By Jessica Leber

Mahalo popularized the term “human-powered search” when they launched just over a year ago. Many of the pitches we get still use that term as part of their positioning. Many of them are bootstrapped, so the price of entry is clearly low. But the upside has not yet been established. In this post we look at the pros and cons of human-powered search engines in general, look at some differentiating strategies and ask “what is the future for Human Powered Search?”

Old Wine In New Bottles?

When Mahalo first launched, my instinctive reaction (which I recorded on my personal Blog) was that this was “old wine in new bottles”. Traditional publishers have been doing “human-powered search” even BI (Before Internet) but these went by boring names like Directory. Human editors work great in well-defined niches, always have done and always will. Human editors produce the expert content that Google finds for you. This is long tail publishing. This is Business Media and Enthusiast Media, large but slow growth traditional publishing segments of the media industry.

But an Internet-scale venture powered by humans rather than software? We look at three reasons why this might work and two reasons why it won’t work.

Three Pros And Two Cons

Most ventures in this space highlight three things that a human editor can always do better than a software program. These are the three Pros:

1. Spam control. Humans can easily spot even the most ingenious spam.

2. Duplicate control. 10 articles that all say virtually the same thing is just a waste of time.

3. Disambiguation. Computers need an awful lot of expensive programming to always spot the difference between “apple” as a fruit, a consumer electronics company or a record label. Humans can do it in a flash.

The two Cons:

1. You cannot persuade people to break their Google habit until your searches are better than Google for most cases (not just a few cases where you specialize). This massive hurdle is true for all search engines.

2. You cannot win as a destination site if you are general purpose. You go to the sites that specialize in the areas that interest you. If you don’t know what sites to go to, Google will find those sites for you.

So, do three Pros beat two Cons? Not in this case. The Pros are three relatively minor irritants that human-powered search fixes. The Cons are total showstoppers.

Pay People To Write Content?

Mahalo pays people to create content. That means they can predict the quality of the results. Paying people requires lots of funding. Mahalo has plenty of funding and it is unlikely anybody else will get funded with the same model. So Mahalo has a fairly long and clear runway before take-off. Mahalo is a private company so we don’t know how long it will take them to get to profitability or even if the basic economics make profitability feasible at all. In today’s climate, nobody will buy Mahalo without a clear path to profitability.

Are you Bullish or Bearish on Mahalo? Cast your vote in our Company Index (powered by TradeVibes). My vote was Bearish and I was in the majority at the time I cast my vote (80% Bullish vs 20% Bearish). The sample size on that vote was too low to be meaningful (40), so the more votes the better.

The Elephant In The Community Generated Content Room

Most other ventures get “the community” to create the content. The elephant in this room is of course Wikipedia. How on earth do you get general knowledge content that is better at scale than Wikipedia? How do you motivate people to create content if, unlike Mahalo, you are not paying their salaries? Google’s answer with Knol was to pay them indirectly via Adsense revenue. The market jury on Knol is still out. If Google cannot win, how can any other start-up without their brand power? If the Knol competitor also monetizes through Adsense, their margin is even less.

About The Players

The other well-funded venture that wears the human-powered search label is Wikia. Founded by Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia fame, this looks like the largest pure Wiki style venture. Content is community generated, but it appears that they have editors/moderators/curators on a payroll.

Squidoo looks like a bootstrapped venture. It is hard to tell if it has traction. Looking at Squidoo’s page on TradeVibes will point to many other inexpensive Wiki style ventures. The basic technology of Wikis is now a total commodity.

One of the earliest ventures, About.com, is now owned by the New York Times. On my survey of one, About is the one site other than Wikipedia that surfaces a lot in general knowledge type searches. At the scale they operate, it may well be profitable. So Mahalo, Wiki, and other human-powered search engines may have a bright future.

What do you think? Can general purpose human-powered search engines scale and make money? Or will they either fail or move into small niches? What new ventures have a fundamentally differentiated approach to this market?

 Source: This article was published readwrite.com By BERNARD LUNN

Tuesday, 03 April 2018 12:11

What is Legal Research?

Legal research is generally the process of finding an answer to a legal question or checking for legal precedent that can be cited in a brief or at trial. Sometimes, legal research can help determine whether a legal issue is a "case of first impression" that is unregulated or lacks legal precedent. Virtually every lawsuit, appeal, the criminal case, and legal process, in general, requires some amount of legal research.

Legal information is organized into two general categories:

  1. Primary Law: Binding law that is codified in statutes, regulations, and caselaw.
  2. Secondary Sources: Not legally binding, this type of information explains the primary law and legal theory; including legal digests, treatises, journals, etc.

The U.S. legal system is based on precedent -- that is, decided court cases -- in conjunction with statutes and common law. Therefore, the function of legal research typically is to find out how previous courts have decided cases with similar fact patterns. Most legal research is now performed online. For example, FindLaw's sister company, Thomson Reuters Westlaw, provides online legal research tools you can use to look up cases and verify current law.

Terms to Know

  • Opinion: The formal written expression by a court or judge detailing the reasons and principles of law upon which the case is decided.
  • Parallel Citation: A citation reference to the same case printed in two or more different case reporters.
  • Stare Decisis: The doctrine under which courts adhere to precedent on questions of law in order to insure certainty, consistency, and stability in the administration of justice.
  • Shepardize: To look up a case's citation in Shepard's Citations in order to check the status of the case, whether it is still considered good law, parallel citations, or the use of the case in other jurisdictions.
  • KeyCite: This helpful case citation tool is provided by Thomson Reuters Westlaw. You can view the history of a case, statute, administrative decision, or regulation to help determine whether it is "good law" and to retrieve citing references.

How Your Attorney May Use Legal Research

Your attorney (or a paralegal under their supervision) may review statutes, caselaw, and secondary authority before deciding how to proceed with your case. Since the law is based on precedent, caselaw with a similar fact pattern can give your attorney an idea of how things may play out in court.

Similarly, a corporate lawyer may conduct legal research in order to determine whether a proposed new policy would expose the company to liability. This may include research into building codes, employment laws, or federal environmental regulations.

Source: This article was published hirealawyer.findlaw.com

Search engines are an intrinsic part of the array of commonly used “open source” research tools. Together with social media, domain name look-ups and more traditional solutions such as newspapers and telephone directories, effective web searching will help you find vital information to support your investigation.

Many people find that search engines often bring up disappointing results from dubious sources. A few tricks, however, can ensure that you corner the pages you are looking for, from sites you can trust. The same goes for searching social networks and other sources to locate people: A bit of strategy and an understanding of how to extract what you need will improve results.

This chapter focuses on three areas of online investigation:

  1. Effective web searching.
  2. Finding people online.
  3. Identifying domain ownership.

1. Effective web searching

Search engines like Google don’t actually know what web pages are about. They do, however, know the words that are on the pages. So to get a search engine to behave itself, you need to work out which words are on your target pages.

First off, choose your search terms wisely. Each word you add to the search focuses the results by eliminating results that don’t include your chosen keywords.

Some words are on every page you are after. Other words might or might not be on the target page. Try to avoid those subjective keywords, as they can eliminate useful pages from the results.

Use advanced search syntax.

Most search engines have useful so-called hidden features that are essential to helping focus your search and improve results.

Optional keywords

If you don’t have definite keywords, you can still build in other possible keywords without damaging the results. For example, pages discussing heroin use in Texas might not include the word “Texas”; they may just mention the names of different cities. You can build these into your search as optional keywords by separating them with the word OR (in capital letters).

You can use the same technique to search for different spellings of the name of an individual, company or organization.

Search by domain

You can focus your search on a particular site by using the search syntax “site:” followed by the domain name.

For example, to restrict your search to results from Twitter:

To add Facebook to the search, simply use “OR” again:

You can use this technique to focus on a particular company’s website, for example. Google will then return results only from that site.

You can also use it to focus your search on municipal and academic sources, too. This is particularly effective when researching countries that use unique domain types for government and university sites.

Note: When searching academic websites, be sure to check whether the page you find is written or maintained by the university, one of its professors or one of the students. As always, the specific source matters.

Searching for file types

Some information comes in certain types of file formats. For instance, statistics, figures and data often appear in Excel spreadsheets. Professionally produced reports can often be found in PDF documents. You can specify a format in your search by using “filetype:” followed by the desired data file extension (xls for spreadsheet, docx for Word documents, etc.).

2. Finding people

Groups can be easy to find online, but it’s often trickier to find an individual person. Start by building a dossier on the person you’re trying to locate or learn more about. This can include the following:

  • The person’s name, bearing in mind:

    • Different variations (does James call himself “James,” “Jim,” “Jimmy” or “Jamie”?).
    • The spelling of foreign names in Roman letters (is Yusef spelled “Yousef” or “Yusuf”?).
    • Did the names change when a person married?
    • Do you know a middle name or initial?
  • The town the person lives in and or was born in.

  • The person’s job and company.

  • Their friends and family members’ names, as these may appear in friends and follower lists.

  • The person’s phone number, which is now searchable in Facebook and may appear on web pages found in Google searches.

  • Any of the person’s usernames, as these are often constant across various social networks.

  • The person’s email address, as these may be entered into Facebook to reveal linked accounts. If you don’t know an email address, but have an idea of the domain the person uses, sites such as email-format can help you guess it.

  • A photograph, as this can help you find the right person, if the name is common.

Advanced social media searches: Facebook

Facebook’s newly launched search tool is amazing. Unlike previous Facebook searches, it will let you find people by different criteria including, for the first time, the pages someone has Liked. It also enables you to perform keyword searches on Facebook pages.

This keyword search, the most recent feature, sadly does not incorporate any advanced search filters (yet). It also seems to restrict its search to posts from your social circle, their favorite pages and from some high-profile accounts.

Aside from keywords in posts, the search can be directed at people, pages, photos, events, places, groups and apps. The search results for each are available in clickable tabs.

For example, a simple search for Chelsea will find bring up related pages and posts in the Posts tab:

The People tab brings up people named Chelsea. As with the other tabs, the order of results is weighted in favor of connections to your friends and favorite pages.

The Photos tab will bring up photos posted publicly, or posted by friends that are related to the word Chelsea (such as Chelsea Clinton, Chelsea Football Club or your friends on a night out in the Chelsea district of London).

The real investigative value of Facebook’s search becomes apparent when you start focusing a search on what you really want.

For example, if you are investigating links between extremist groups and football, you might want to search for people who like The English Defence League and Chelsea Football Club. To reveal the results, remember to click on the “People” tab.

This search tool is new and Facebook are still ironing out the creases, so you may need a few attempts at wording your search. That said, it is worth your patience.

Facebook also allows you to add all sorts of modifiers and filters to your search. For example, you can specify marital status, sexuality, religion, political views, pages people like, groups they have joined and areas they live or grew up in. You can specify where they studied, what job they do and which company they work for. You can even find the comments that someone has added to uploaded photos. You can find someone by name or find photos someone has been tagged in. You can list people who have participated in events and visited named locations. Moreover, you can combine all these factors into elaborate, imaginative, sophisticated searches and find results you never knew possible. That said, you may find still better results searching the site via search engines like Google (add “site:facebook.com” to the search box).

Advanced social media searches: Twitter

Many of the other social networks allow advanced searches that often go far beyond the simple “keyword on page” search offered by sites such as Google. Twitter’s advanced search, for example, allows you to trace conversations between users and add a date range to your search.

Twitter allows third-party sites to use its data and create their own exciting searches.
Followerwonk, for example, lets you search Twitter bios and compare different users. Topsy has a great archive of tweets, along with other unique functionality.

Advanced social media searches: LinkedIn

LinkedIn will let you search various fields including location, university attended, current company, past company or seniority.

You have to log in to LinkedIn in order to use the advanced search, so remember to check your privacy settings. You wouldn’t want to leave traceable footprints on the profile of someone you are investigating!

You can get into LinkedIn’s advanced search by clicking on the link next to the search box. Be sure, also, to select “3rd + Everyone Else” under relationship. Otherwise , your search will include your friends and colleagues and their friends.

LinkedIn was primarily designed for business networking. Its advanced search seems to have been designed primarily for recruiters, but it is still very useful for investigators and journalists. Personal data exists in clearly defined subject fields, so it is easy to specify each element of your search.

You can enter normal keywords, first and last names, locations, current and previous employers, universities and other factors. Subscribers to their premium service can specify company size and job role.

LinkedIn will let you search various fields including location, university attended, current company, past company and seniority.

Other options

Sites like Geofeedia and Echosec allow you to find tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Flickr and Instagram photos that were sent from defined locations. Draw a box over a region or a building and reveal the social media activity. Geosocialfootprint.com will plot a Twitter user’s activity onto a map (all assuming the users have enabled location for their accounts).

Additionally, specialist “people research” tools like Pipl and Spokeo can do a lot of the hard legwork for your investigation by searching for the subject on multiple databases, social networks and even dating websites. Just enter a name, email address or username and let the search do the rest. Another option is to use the multisearch tool from Storyful. It’s a browser plugin for Chrome that enables you to enter a single search term, such as a username, and get results from Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Spokeo. Each site opens in a new browser tab with the relevant results.

Searching by profile pic

People often use the same photo as a profile picture for different social networks. This being the case, a reverse image search on sites like TinEye and Google Images, will help you identify linked accounts.

3. Identifying domain ownership

Many journalists have been fooled by malicious websites. Since it’s easy for anyone to buy an unclaimed .com, .net or .org site, we should not go on face value. A site that looks well produced and has authentic-sounding domain name may still be a political hoax, false company or satirical prank.

Some degree of quality control can be achieved by examining the domain name itself. Google it and see what other people are saying about the site. A “whois” search is also essential. DomainTools.com is one of many sites that offers the ability to perform a whois search. It will bring up the registration details given by the site owner the domain name was purchased.

For example, the World Trade Organization was preceded by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT). There are, apparently, two sites representing the WTO. There’s wto.org (genuine) and gatt.org (a hoax). A mere look at the site hosted at gatt.org should tell most researchers that something is wrong, but journalists have been fooled before.

A whois search dispels any doubt by revealing the domain name registration information. Wto.org is registered to the International Computing Centre of the United Nations. Gatt.org, however, is registered to “Andy Bichlbaum” from the notorious pranksters the Yes Men.

Whois is not a panacea for verification. People can often get away with lying on a domain registration form. Some people will use an anonymizing service like Domains by Proxy, but combining a whois search with other domain name and IP address tools forms a valuable weapon in the battle to provide useful material from authentic sources.

 Source: This article was published verificationhandbook.com By Paul Myers

Are you an information junkie?

We just found three gigs that could be perfect for digital natives who know how to find the answer to any question online.

These flexible online research jobs let you work from home. They could be a fit whether you want to make a full-time income or just a little extra money around classes or taking care of kids.

They’re also a fun, interesting way to make extra money while you learn about an array of new topics!

1. Wonder Researcher

Wonder helps customers save time by providing research and resources to answer a variety of questions.

The company is recruiting freelance researchers to work from home and complete customer requests. You’ll set your own schedule, choose which and how many research requests you complete, and get paid per request.

Wonder says “top researchers can earn up to $20-$30 per hour.”

We know from former researcher and TPH staff writer Jamie Cattanach that typical pay is $13 and up per request. The time it takes to complete the research is up to you, but could mean you make around $13 an hour.

“You have to complete a research project gratis to qualify, and that’s about a two-hour time investment,” Cattanach points out. But overall, “It’s not bad. And if you’re genuinely interested in learning, it’s awesome.”

To apply: Start your application here. You’ll fill out your basic info and why you want to be a researcher. Then you’ll complete a trial research assignment.

2. Research Analyst With Animalz

Content marketing startup Animalz is looking for a “highly analytical and organized” research analyst to join its 18-person team.

Animalz writes about the tech world for software companies and entrepreneurs. Your job would be researching and compiling the information for these articles.

You’d also copy edit and check articles for SEO before they go to the customer.

The company is looking for someone comfortable with online research who can “find compelling and significant arguments and data” to conceive and support articles. You should be a skilled editor, but also able to “wear many different hats” to work with the startup team.

To apply: Email your resume, cover letter and work sample to this address.

3. Expert With JustAnswer

Through JustAnswer, you can offer your services as an expert in one or more of over 175 categories, like health, legal, pets and one called “homework.” You can apply in as many categories as you want, and required credentials vary by category.

Once accepted, you can set your own hours and work as much or little as you want.

Users will post a question and choose what they’re willing to pay. If your answer is accepted, you’ll receive 20%-50% commission via PayPal, according to The Work at Home Woman.

To apply: Choose your categories here, and submit your application and credentials. You should receive a response within 5-10 business days if you’re in the U.S. or Canada, but it could take up to 20 days if you live anywhere else.

Source: This article was published thepennyhoarder.com By DANA SITAR

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 13:28

Privacy Search Engines 2017 Group Review

Privacy search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Startpage are becoming increasingly popular. They usually leverage the big search engines in order to return results, but proxy search requests so that Google or Yahoo or Microsoft do not know who made the search. In other words, these see only that the search query came from the privacy search engine.

These privacy search engines promise to not log your IP address or any searches you make. Does this sound good to you? Good. The next question, then, is which privacy search engine to use…

Why privacy search engines?

The problem with most search engines is that they spy on you. This is their business model – to learn as much about you as possible, in order deliver highly targeted advertising direct to your browser window.

Google has even recently dropped its moratorium on combining what it learns by scanning your emails with what it learns about you through your searches. All the better to spy on you. Information typically collected and stored each time you make a search includes:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time of query
  • Query search terms
  • Cookie ID – this cookie is deposited in your browser’s cookie folder, and uniquely identifies your computer. With it, a search engine provider can trace a search request back to your computer

This information is usually transmitted to the requested web page, and to the owners of any third party advertising banners displayed on that page. As you surf around the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially highly embarrassing) profile of you.

Of course, if Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, etc., know lots about you, this information can be (and often is) handed over to the police and the NSA.

Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to

Indeed, it was only recently that evidence emerged showing Yahoo works hand in glove with the NSA to betray its users to the intelligence service.  Naughty, naughty.

The filter bubble

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you. They can then return results they think will interest you.

This can result in only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view, This locks you into a “filter bubble,” where you do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they have been downgraded in your search results.

Not only does this deny you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input, but it can also be very dangerous as it can confirm prejudices, and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo Privacy Search Engines

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • Looks great
  • Discrete non-targeted ads
  • Bangs
  • Contextual filters
  • CONS
  • US company
  • Uses Amazon servers
  • Yahoo results 

DuckDuckGo is “The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You.” Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo has stated that “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.”

It is a US-based company, and is the most popular and high-profile of the privacy search engines. Searches are primarily sourced via Yahoo, with whom DuckDuckGo has a strong relationship.

This is very worrying given recent revelations about its ties to the NSA,  but DuckDuckGo continues to promise that it does not collect or share personal information.

Aesthetics

DuckDuckGo sports a clean interface. I find its red, grey, and white styling and cutesy logo attractive and fun, although this is, of course, a matter of personal taste.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo offers search suggestions as you type in a query.
  • Search returns are very fast. This includes image and video search returns.
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Search filter categories include Web, Images, Videos, Products, Meanings, Definition, and News. Displayed filters are adaptive, and DDG will initially show results under the filter category that it feels is most appropriate to the search terms. Depending the filter selected, DuckDuckGo may display image, video or Wikipedia previews at either the top of the search page, or in a box to the right of the results.
  • Ads may also be displayed to the right of search results. Paid ads are clearly marked as such, are discreet, and are never mixed in with the “pure” search returns.
  • Image results, however, can only be filtered by size (Small, Medium. Large).
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. YouTube videos can be played directly from DDG the website, but a warning alerts you to the fact that these will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
  • Results can also be filtered by country and date (Anytime, Past Day, Past Week or Past Month).
  • Subjectively, I find the quality of DuckDuckGo’s search returns to be very good. I have seen complaints, however, by others who do not find them as good as those of Google. This is one reason why “bangs” are so useful (see below).

Here we can see both the contextual filter in actual (auto-direct to Products) and DDG’s discrete ads

How it makes money

DuchDuckGo displays ads alongside its search results. These are sourced from Yahoo as part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. By default, when advertisers sign up for a Bing Ads account, their ads automatically enter rotation into all of Bing’s distribution channels, including DuckDuckGo

Importantly, however, these ads are untargeted (they are displayed based on your search terms). And as already noted, there are clearly marked and are displayed separately from the “pure” search returns.

DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and subsequently make a purchase, it receives a small commission. No personally identifiable information is given out in this way, however, and this does not influence search result rankings.

Privacy

DuckDuckGo states that does not collect or share personal information.

  • An affiliate code may be added to some eCommerce sites (e.g. Amazon & eBay), but this does not include any personally identifiable information.
  • Being based in the US means that DuckDuckGo is subject to government pressure and laws such as FISA and the Patriot Act. This means that the US government could mandate that DuckDuckGo start logging its users’ activities. And prevent the company from alerting users to this fact via a Gag order.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Amazon servers. Again, this is a US company, subject to pressure from the US government.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. Please see the Update at the bottom of this page for his answers to some  criticisms expressed here.

Features

In addition to its rather nifty contextual filters, the most striking feature of DuckDuckGo is “bangs”.

These allow you to search other websites quickly and easily. For example, typing !guk before a search query will return Google UK search results, and typing !a will search the Amazon store for you.

Note that bangs take you to the website in question. The searches are proxied, but if you are signed into Google (for example), then Google will know who you are and will record the search terms.

My thoughts

DuckDuckGo is, in my opinion, the best looking and most user-friendly privacy search engine out there. This makes it great to use, although some may prefer Google to the primarily Yahoo-based search results.

Bangs are a killer feature, however, and one that go a long way towards compensating for this issue. Just remember to sign out of your Google account before using a Google bang!

It is little surprise, then, that DuckDuckGo is so popular. But the fact that it is a US company should sound a note of caution.

Startpage (and Ixquick)

Startpage

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • Non-targeted ads
  • Can proxy webpages
  • Based in Netherlands
  • Google results
  • CONS
  • Runs servers in the US (but can you choose non-US servers)

Startpage and Ixquick are run by the same company. In the past, Startpage returned Google results, while Ixquick returned results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. The two services have now been combined, and both return identical Google results.

Although no longer actively supported, the old Ixquick metasearch engine is still available at Ixquick.eu. Interestingly, despite no longer being actively supported, Startpage has recently removed Yahoo results from the legacy search engine. This is in response to news that Yahoo has been helping the NSA spy on its users.

Aesthetics

The cloudy blue sky default theme doesn’t really do it for me, although this can be changed in the settings. Overall, there is nothing wrong with how Startpage looks, but I much prefer DuckDuckGo’s red-themed cutesiness.

Search results

  • Suggestions are not offered as you type.
  • Search returns are fast, but perhaps not as fast as those of DuckDuckGo (this is a purely subjective assessment).
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Searches can be only filtered by Web, Images and Video categories. An advanced search option is available that allows you to specify a variety of search parameters, and you can filter results by time.
  • Ads are displayed above search results. These are clearly marked as ads, and are not mixed with the “pure” search results.
  • There are no additional filters for Images.
  • Video results display an image preview. YouTube can be played directly on the Startpage website, although you are warned that this is not private.
  • Search results are pulled directly from Google, and are therefore very good. This does mean, however, that information censored by Google is also censored from these returns.

startpage-1

Ads are more prominent than with DDG, but the ability to proxy webpages is great

How it makes money

Much like DuckDuckGo, Startpage makes money from ads and affiliate links. These ads are untargeted, clearly marked, and not mixed in with the “real” search returns. They are somewhat more prominently displayed than with DuckDuckGo, however.

Privacy

  • Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which has strong privacy laws.
  • It runs servers collocated in the US. These are owned and controlled by Startpage, and I am assured that they are secure against government snooping. If this worries you, however…
  • It is possible to use non-US servers only (or non-EU servers).
  • Webpages returned from searches can be proxied (see below).
  • Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Features

Startpage’s killer feature is that, rather than visiting a website directly, you can proxy the connection. If you select this option, then a proxy server run by Startpage sits between your computer and the website.

This prevents the website from knowing your true IP address (much like a VPN), and from being able to use web tracking and fingerprinting technologies to identify and track you.  The downside is that pages load more slowly, since StartPage must retrieve the contents and redisplay them.

I must say that this is a terrific feature, and one that can greatly improve your privacy. Given its downside, however, you probably won’t want to use it all the time.

My thoughts

Startpage is not as pretty or user-friendly as DuckDuckGo. But thanks to being based in the Netherlands and having nothing to do with Yahoo, it should be more resistant to NSA spying than its US-based rivals long (if you specify non-US servers!). And  the ability to proxy web pages is an absolute doozy.

 SearX

Search

  • PROS
  • Can be self-hosted
  • Choose which search engines to leverage
  • Can proxy webpages
  • No ads
  • CONS
  • Public instances could be logged

Less well-known, but fast gaining traction with the security community is SearX. Not only is SearX fully open source, but it is easy to setup and run your own instance of it.

There is an official public SearX instance, or you can use one of many volunteer-run public instances. But what SearX is really about is running your own instance. This makes SearX the only metasearch engine where you can be 100 percent sure that no logs are kept!

Aesthetics

I would describe SearX as functional looking, rather than pretty. That said, the layout is clean, and results are displayed clearly. It is possible for hosts to customize their instances somewhat, although most instances look and feel fairly similar to the official template.

Search results

  • By default, SearX leverages results from a large number of search engines.

searx-search-engines

In Preferences, users can change which search engines are used

  • Search suggestions are not offered as you type, but are displayed to the right of your search returns.
  • Searches can be filtered by the following categories: General, Files, Images, IT, Map (using OpenStreetMap), Music, News, Science, Social Media and Videos. They can also be filtered by time.
  • There are no ads
  • Wikipedia entries are displayed to the right of search results
  • There are no additional filters for Images, although a preview is displayed when they are clicked on.
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. Clicking on a video takes you to the website it is hosted on (for example YouTube or Vimeo).
  • Search results can be downloaded as a .csv, .json., or rss file.
  • As with Starpage, search results can be viewed proxied. This will “break” many websites, but does allow for a very high level of privacy.
  • Search results are as good as the engine’s selected. The official instance uses Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and a host of other first-rate engines by default, so the results are excellent.

How it makes money

SearX is an open source project run by volunteers. On the official instance there is no on-site advertising and no affiliate marketing.

Because it is open source, individual operators of public SearX instances are free to introduce their own finance models. But I have yet to find a single instance that is not 100 percent ad and affiliate-free.

Privacy

  • There is no way to know if a public SearX instance operator is logging your searches. And this includes the official instance.
  • That said, there is no way to guarantee that DDG, Startpage, or any other “private” search engines are not logging your searches either…
  • If you are serious about privacy, therefore, you should set up your own SearX instance. In fact, setting up your own SearX instance on a server that only you directly control is the only way currently available to guarantee that your searches are not logged.
  • This makes self-hosted SearX instances by far the most secure search engines available. Documentation for installing your own SearX instance is available here.
  • For the casual user, public SearX instances are unlikely to log your searches, and are much less likely to be monitored by the likes of the NSA than the other services mentioned here.
  • Just remember, though, that there is no way to be sure of this.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report for searx.me (the official instance): A. Note that each SearX instance (public or private) is different in this respect.

searx-reults

The are no ads, search suggestions are listed to the right, and as with Startpage, you can proxy webpages

Features

As with Startpage, the ability to proxy websites is a killer feature if you can live with it breaking many websites that you visit.

My thoughts

For serious tech-savvy privacy-heads, a self-hosted SearX instance is the way to go. Simply put, nothing else is in the same league when it comes to knowing for certain that your searches are not logged.

More casual users may also be surprised at how well the software works on public instances. My personal feelings are that these are much less likely to log your searches or be spied on by the US and other governments than DuckDuckGo, Startpage or Disconnect. But this is purely speculation.

Disconnect Search

Disconnect Search

  • PROS
  • No logs or tracking
  • No ads
  • Choice of search engines
  • CONS
  • US company (so beware the NSA)
  • Uses Amazon servers (so beware the NSA)

Before writing a Disconnect review, we knew the US-based company had made a name for itself with some excellent open source privacy-oriented browser extensions. One of these is the open source Disconnect Search add-on for Firefox and Chrome (a non-open source Android app is also available).

This browser add-on is still the primary way to use Disconnect Search, although a JavaScript web app is available. This mimics the browser extension, and allow you to perform web searches from the Disconnect Search web page.

Disconnect also markets a Premium VPN and online security app, with Disconnect Search functionality built-in. Please see my Disconnect review for more details on this.

Search results

  • Searches are usually made from the browser add-on.
  • You can select which of three search engines to query: Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo (default).
  • Unlike the other privacy metasearch engines discussing this article, Disconnect does not display search returns on its own website. Results are simply routed through Disconnect’s servers to hide their origin, and are then opened in the selected search engine’s webpage.
  • Incognito mode searches are supported.

disconnect-search-1

The browser extension

How it makes money

Disconnect markets a Premium product (see review), but the Disconnect Search browser extension is free. It hides your IP when making searches, but then sends you direct to the selected search engine.  This means that Disconnect performs no advertising or affiliate marketing of its own when making a search.

Privacy

  • Disconnect is a US company, and is therefore not a good choice for the more NSA-phobic out there.
  • The browser extension is open source, but search requests can still be logged by Disconnect, as they are made through its servers.
  • Disconnect hosts its service on Amazon servers.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A (this is for the Disonnect.me website).

My thoughts

The Disconnect Search browser extension provides a quick and easy way hide your true identity whilst making searches using your favorite search engine.  The fact that Disconnect is US-based, however, is a major issue.

Honorary mention: Peekier

Peekier is a new no-logs search engine. There is not enough information about this service currently available for me to give it a proper assessment. It is worth mentioning, however, because of the attractive and innovative way that it displays search results.

Results are displayed as large thumbnail previews of returned webpages

In a field were where, if we are honest, most search engines look pretty similar, it is great to see a different approach. I therefore think it worth flagging up Peekier, and keeping an eye on the service to see how it develops.

Privacy Search Engines Conclusion

Using any of these services engines will greatly improve your search privacy. Crucially, your searches will not be recorded in order to build to help a profile that is used to sell you stuff. All the search engines I looked at in this article are easy to use and return good results.

DuckDuckGo, in particular, is extremely user-friendly. This makes it a great service for transitioning away from Google.

Will these services protect your searches from government surveillance (and the NSA in particular)? In the case of US companies, it is safest to assume not. But unless you are doing something very illegal, this may not concern you (although it should).

Startpage is non-US based, has been independently audited, and allows you to access websites with a great deal of privacy thanks to its proxy feature. It is therefore a much better choice for privacy-heads than DuckDuckGo.

Public SearX instances are less likely to be monitored than other higher-profile search engines, but they may be. It is also likely that you will know nothing about their operators. Running your own SearX instance on hardware directly under your control, however, is an extremely secure and private solution. And is therefore only one that I can recommend to serious privacy fanatics.

The fact the SearX has a great interface and returns on-the-button results from all the major search engines is the icing on the cake.

Update

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. It is his firm (and I believe genuine) belief that DDG is as secure and private as a search engine can be (barring one that is self-hosted). And that my concerns about it being a US company and over its partnership with Yahoo are largely unfounded.

Central to his argument is that DDG keeps no logs. This means that it cannot be subpoenaed to provide what it does not have, and makes it irrelevant who it partners with. As no information exists about DDG’s users anyway.

Gabriel also pointed out the legal protections US citizens enjoy against government spying that are not afforded to other nationals, and that DuckDuckGo operates non-US servers. Users outside the US will mostly be directed to these when performing searches.

Now. I will go on record as saying that I think being a US company is a serious threat to privacy. This article is not the place to discuss such issues in detail, but look out for an upcoming article where I will dive into the subject head first.

Source: This article was published bestvpn.com By Douglas Crawford

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Google Chrome is the browser of choice for many because it’s also one of the fastest. It has lots of features and extensions that can boost browsing speed. However, Chrome is also fairly system resource heavy, which can slow browsing down considerably on more outmoded desktops and laptops. So if your Chrome browser is off the pace, this is how you can give it a speed boost.

1. Cut Back Chrome Extensions

Extensions can enhance Google Chrome in many ways. Some extensions can even speed up Chrome, but most don’t. All the extensions inflate Chrome’s RAM usage, so the browser becomes all the more resource heavy with extra add-ons. As such, switching superfluous extensions off will speed the browser up.

  • To disable extensions, click the Customize Google Chrome button at the top right of browser.
  • Select More tools > Extensions to open the tab in the snapshot directly below that lists add-ons.

  • Now click the Enabled check boxes to switch extensions off.
  • Alternatively, you can click a Remove from Chrome option to delete extensions.

2. Switch Flash Off

Now most browsers are moving toward HTML 5, plug-ins are increasingly antiquated. Chrome only supports the Flash plug-in, which you can switch off to speed up the browser. That will also ensure Flash content doesn’t load on pages, but switching the plug-in off speeds browsing up nonetheless.

  • Enter ‘chrome://settings/content’ in the browser’s URL bar and press Return.
  • Then you can select Flash to open the options below.
  • Now you can switch Allow sites to run Flash setting to Block sites from running Flash.
  • Alternatively, if you keep Flash on select the Ask First option. Then Flash becomes a click-to-play plug-in.

3. Turn on Chrome’s Prefetch Option

Google Chrome has a page prefetching service that caches resources for linked pages which the browser anticipates you might open. So if you do click the hyperlinks, the pages will open more quickly. As such, prefetching is a great addition to Chrome that speeds up browsing. You can switch the prefetch option on as follows.

  • Click the Customize Google Chrome button to open the browser’s menu, and select Settings from there.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Settings tab and click Advanced.
  • Then select the Use a prediction service to load pages more quicklyoption to switch the prefetch on.

4. Remove Images From Websites

Images certainly increase page load times. So removing image content from websites will also speed up browsing. You don’t need an extension to remove pictures from sites as Chrome now includes a Do not show any images option. You can configure that setting as follows.

  • Click the Customize Google Chrome button, and select Settings to open further browser options.
  • Click Advanced to expand the options on the Settings tab, and then you can click Content Settings to configure the website content displayed.
  • Now click Images to open the options directly below. Click Show all (recommended) to switch that setting to Do not show any images.

5. Remove Ads from Websites

Ads are another thing that can considerably slow down browsing. Ads are similar to images as they add lots of extra content to pages. So removing ads from website pages is another good way to speed up Chrome. The browser doesn’t include any built-in options to remove ads with, but there are various ad-blocker extensions that will do the trick.

The uBlock Origin ad blocker is one that you can add to Google Chrome. The good thing about the uBlock extension is that it’s more system resource efficient than other alternatives. The extension also blocks pop ups and other media elements on website pages. You can add it to Chrome from this website page. Then you can click a uBlock Origin button on the toolbar for further extension options or to activate/deactivate ad blocking for specific pages.

6. Increase the Number of Raster Threads

Chrome has numerous experimental flag settings that you can speed up the browser with. The raster threads flag setting adjusts the rendering speeds for images. Thus, you can speed up rendering speeds by increasing the number of raster threads as follows.

  • Enter ‘chrome://flags’ in the browser’s URL bar and press Return to open the page below.

  • Press the Ctrl + F hotkey to open the search box.
  • Enter ‘number of raster threads’ in the search box to find the flag setting in the shot directly below.

  • Now select 4 from the drop-down menu for the Number of raster threads setting.
  • Press the Relaunch Now button to restart Google Chrome.

7. Enable the Fast tab/window close Flag Setting

  • The chrome://flags page includes a Fast tab/window close flag setting that separates tab unloading from the main GUI, which enables faster tab and window closing. To enable that setting, input ‘chrome://flags’ in the URL bar.
  • Open the search box, input ‘fast tab’ and press the Enter key. The Fast tab/window close setting will now be highlighted as below.

  • Click Enable to switch the Fast tab setting on.
  • Press Relaunch Now to apply the new setting.

8. Don’t Open too Many Tabs

Tab overload can also slow down the Chrome browser. This will usually happen if you open more than 10 pages at a time. Each of those tabs need some resources, and Chrome’s Task Manager highlights that open page tabs can hog more RAM than extensions. Thus, Chrome runs faster with fewer tabs open.

There are numerous tab management extensions that minimize the number of tabs open in Google Chrome. OneTab is an extension that enables you to preserve RAM by moving pages to an inactive tab list from which you can reopen them when required. Press the + Add to Chrome button on this web page to add OneTab to Chrome. Then you can move a page to the tab list by selecting it, right-clicking the OneTab button and selecting OneTab > Send only this tab to OneTab.

9. Clear Your Browser’s Data

Chrome keeps a database of URLs, cached text and other browsing data so that resources can be accessed from hard drive. However, the accumulation of browser data can also slow Google Chrome down as it inflates the cache. So it’s a good idea to clear browsing data every six months or so to ensure it doesn’t grossly accumulate and waste disk space.

  • First, click Customize Google Chrome and select More tools from the menu.
  • Select Clear browsing data to open the window in the snapshot directly below.

  • Then you can select to clear browsing data for cached images and files, browsing history, cookies, app data and more besides.
  • Press the Clear Browsing Data button to clear the data.

Each of those tips should speed up your Chrome browser a little more. Now you can browse through website pages somewhat more quickly than before. To further boost Chrome, check out some of these extensions.

 Source: This article was published windowsreport.com

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