Dark web, dark net, deep web – whatever you call it, you are obviously a curious person who want’s to know how to access this hidden part of the internet. This is a quick and short guide to provide all of the information you need. This is the best place to learn about Tor Onions, secret operating systems, how to get on the dark web, These are the hidden alleys of the internet and I will show you how to navigate it. Welcome to the shadows, friends! Now lets get the party started.
What is the Dark Web?
People mistake the dark web for the deep web and I will explain everything, first we need to talk about all the parts of the internet.
The first part of the internet is the clear web (also called the clear net), this is the first layer of the internet, it is visible to the public and accessible over search engines like Google, Bing, Baidu and Yahoo. Whenever you do a search on these search engines what you get is the clear web.
For the technically inclined, clearweb defines the content that is indexed, crawled, and displayed by all of the different search engines. The clear web is approximately 4 percent of the Internet. 96% of the internet is the rest. What is the rest? You might ask. The remaining 96% is the deepweb and the dark web.
The deep web is the internet that is not indexed by search engines. This includes records and private information like amazon shopping records, PayPal information, tax information. Basically anything that you need a credential to access is the deep web.
90% of the internet is the deep web, which is very large.
The remaining 6% is the dark web, this is a strange place , considered by many to be the wild-west of the internet. The dark web thrives on anonymity , everything on the dark web is hidden and needs special software to be accessed. Even the URLs on the dark web are different from normal URLs.
The dark web is decentralized and inaccessible to crawlers and search bots. I previously mentioned that the URLs in the dark web is different , these URLs are called onions. And they are very different to anything that you are used to.
For instance, if you want to access a site like Facebook, all you need to do is to open your browser and write the URL in the browsers address bar (i.e. https://facebook.com) or you look for the website using google.com. Now, on the dark web, the URLs are not intelligible words but a string of random characters and you have to know the URL right to the last decimal and character to access it. Unlike clear net websites, dark web websites all end with a .onion extension. There is no .com, .eu, or .net. It is all .onion.
The bulk of online criminal activity happen on the dark web, everything you heard about the darkweb on the news is true.
On the dark web you have drug markets, stolen information, hackers, child pornography and much more. You will be able to purchase these services and products using bitcoin and different alt-coins.
Now that I have provided a short summary on what the dark web is , let’s see how to actually access the darkweb.
There are many methods to access the dark web , each with varying levels of security.
Getting Ready to go!
#1. Installing a VPN
See reasons why you should not use a VPN, I recommend tails or a Virtual Machine. This section exists to show you how to use a VPN (if you choose to). Different people will choose different setups.
VPN services are were thought to be important when attempting to access the dark web. Why? Because of the long arm of the law, of course. Technically, you are supposedly free to surf on this Internet layer, provided that you don’t engage in any illegal activities. However, after a recent ruling by the US Supreme Court even casually browsing the dark web can get you in a lot of hot water.
So you need to mask your dark web internet request because the ruling means that authorities can get a warrant to search your property if they intercept your dark web connection request. This is why you need a VPN. A recent VPN leak means that you should be wary of the VPN providers you choose. If you choose to go with a VPN you should be careful how you pick and choose.
Note: The Tor Project does not recommend using VPN’s and their advice should be followed. Personally I advise people to use Tails or Virtual Machines. Tails preferrably.
#2. Install the Tor Browser
The most important rule of the dark web – never, ever use your default browser to search for stuff on the dark web. Browsers like Chrome, Opera, or Firefox have tracking technologies that make your activity visible on the authorities’ radar. To access the darkweb use your VPN connection to download the TOR browser. This should be the only dark web related thing you do from regular browsers. TOR is the safest browser and it is the easiest to use in accessing the dark web.
There are people who argue against using TOR because it is created by the military and believe that it is watched. Personally I say if it is good enough for the military then it is good enough for me. I wouldn’t take this for granted but in this case it is all up to you.
TOR and VPNs
It is important to know why you are using the TOR browser over regular browsers. You can Configure a regular browser to access TOR but this is very dangerous and must not be undertaken under any guise. A regular browser mediates between a user’s request and the site the user is trying to access. In regular browsers your query will go through your ISP’s DNS, which in turn consults other resources to help you get the answer you were looking for.
In Tor it is done differently, a users request is bounced around multiple Tor relays. A Tor relays is a server in the Tor network that relays information to another server. The clear web is a collection of servers and so is the dark web, but in the dark web the servers are configured to hide your identity and encrypt the data you transmit over it.
The dark web operates on a very similar system to the clear web but on the dark web the principle of untraceability, anonymity, secrecy is inherent to how things work. Thus the information is processed by TOR relays run by volunteers.
If you installed a VPN, your ISP will not know that you accessed Tor, they will only see that you accessed your VPN, but your VPN will know that you accessed Tor . This means your ISP will be clueless about your activities.
From there, it will be redirected to another node and then another one. Why does it do that? For anonymity reasons, of course; ‘no breadcrumbs’ means that there’s no way for someone to trace the signal back to you.
Congrats! You just got closer to the dark web. Still, there are a couple of more precautions you must take before you can pop open Pandora’s box of dark Internet wonders. There’s no broad consensus on dark web safety.
However, everyone tends to agree that using only Tor is not enough. The two of them (Tor and VPN) work together and, as it happens, there are several ways of tunneling your way all the way through the dark web using this dynamic duo. Here’s what you need to know.
DON’T USE VPNs FOR SERIOUS TRANSACTIONS, USE TAILS TO CONNECT TO THE DARK WEB, I AM LEAVING THE VPN SECTION IN FOR CASUAL BROWSERS OF THE DARK WEB.
Method 1 – Tor over VPN
This is the easiest and the safest method of connecting to Tor. Using Tor over VPN method means connecting to a VPN service before using the Tor browser. This is the most popular and safest method to access onion links, and, it is a marriage made in Heaven: Tor’s an excellent ‘anonymizer’, while VPN safeguards your privacy.
While using this method, Tor will encrypt your request, pass it through your ISP unhindered. From there, the VPN server that conceals your IP and wipes geo-locations tags and other elements your Government or ISP might use the request.
Next step – Your request is then transferred to the Tor entry node which transfers your request to a tor relay. From that relay it goes to a Tor exit node. This is the safest method to access the Dark Web.
Pro(s) of Tor over VPN:
- Session logs are not stored (metadata, IP address).
- Traffic’s completely encrypted.
- It doesn’t offer protection against malicious Tor exit nodes.
Method 2 – VPN over Tor
Not a very safe way to do it, but still usable. VPN over Tor is basically the opposite of Tor over VPN – instead of going through the VPN first, your network signal goes through the Tor network, before going through the VPN. This is a good way if you want to access websites that block Tor.
With this method your Isp knows that you are trying to access Tor, while this should not be a problem, in countries like USA it can make authorities monitor you.
Pro(s) of VPN over Tor:
- Great if you trust your ISP, but not the VPN provider.
- Can bypass blocked Tor nodes.
- ISP can see you trying to access onion content.
- Susceptible to end-to-end timing attacks.
If you dont want to use Tor, there are alternative services that you can use. Some of them are:
I2P – Excellent privacy protection and you can also access hidden onion links.
Matrix.org – An open-source project just like Tor. Used for IoT data transfers, chats, and WebRTC signaling.
Orbot – This is a Tor client for Android.
Globus Secure Browser – This is a paid alternative to the Tor browser. It is VPN-powered. Users can select preferred geo-locations. Globus has a five-day trial period.
Comodo Ice Dragon – This is an open source project, it is an offspin of Firefox.
FreeNet – open-source project. Sports the Darknet and OpenNet anonymous browsing technologies.
#3. Uning a VM or disposable OS
This is the best way to access the dark web, I strongly recommend surfing on the dark web using virtual machine software instead of your locally installed Windows. Why? Because it’s easier to contain malware this way.
In movies you can see scientists experimenting on deadly viruses from behind the safety of a glass enclosure. This is the safety Virtual Machines and disposable OS provide. There are plenty of VMs to choose from: QEMU, Oracle VM Virtualbox, VMware Fusion and Workstations, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Xen Project and Red Hat Virtualization, just to name a few.
If you want to go further and operate at a higher level of safety, I suggest using what I call the disposable operating system ( also called amnesic operating system) – It is easy to deploy and to get rid of if by chance you run into any trouble for your exploits on the dark web. All you’ll need is an 8GB thumb drive, an installation package, and a few minutes to get things up and running.
Let’s dig into this.
How to install Tails OS
Step 1: Get thumb drive; with a minimum size of 8GB, but you can buy one with more space if you plan on using it for anything else.
Step 2: Get on your Tor browser and download the installation package for Tails OS.
On the tails website it says:
Note: Tails is a Linux-based live operating system which can be booted from a USB stick or DVD. I recommend using a stick since DVDs have a read-only function after you’re done burning well and accessing the dark web required a bit of writing.
Chill, because nobody will ever find a record of you ever fiddling around the darknet. Note that Tails’ installation package is the .img format, which means that you’ll need software capable of burning images on your thumb drive.
My recommendation is Universal USB Installer, which is very intuitive. You can also go along with Rufus. The choice is yours. For this tutorial, I’ve used Universal.Source: Tails Website.
Step 3: Insert the stick and do a quick format. Be sure to use FAT32 to remove any compatibility issues. It shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes.
Step 5: Fire up the Universal USB installer or Rufus, and put in your USB stick.
Step 6: Click on “Select a Linux Distribution from the dropdown to put on your USB” (will differ based on what you are using) select Tails.
Step 7: The next step is to select your ubuntu*desktop*.iso, click on the browse button and select the downloaded Tails .img/.iso file.
Step 8: After Selecting tails, “Select your USB Flash Drive ”, use the drop-down box to select your thumb drive’s letter. If it doesn’t show up, check the “now showing all drives” option.
Step 9: Review the info and click the Create button when you’re done.
This process can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on your machine. Wait until the installation is finished. When it’s finished, hit the Close button and you’re all set.
Now it’s time to fire up Tails and do a little bit of tinkering.
How to boot from USB and configure Tails
These step will differ slightly for different individuals. But it is essentially the same thing and is easy. The first boot might be tricky but it is easy.
1. Keep the thumb drive in the USB and restart your computer.
2. As your computer is restarting and the splash screen appears, press the appropriate Boot Menu key.
3. If you don’t know this then google (use duck duck go) the correct key for the brand of your computer or laptop, You can do it like this E.G. “boot from USB hp pavilion”
4. Use your keyboard to select the correct drive. When you’re done, hit Enter.
5. Wait for Tails OS to boot. The first timemight take a while. Just be patient.
6. Configure Tails and deploy Tor + VPN. Yes, the latest version of The Onion Router has an in-built VPN.
7. Get ready to discover the dark and sometimes creepy wonders of the dark web.
How to get on darkweb markets.
After Configuring your setup, the next step is to fire it up and surf the dark web. Now it’s just the small matter of having the correct onion URL of the service that you want to use. At first glance, Tor doesn’t look different from your regular browser – there is a search bar, lots of quick-launch icons, the peeled onion icon smack in the middle of the screen or a purple screen depending on your version. So, now what? Well, let’s start small.
Although content on the dark web is not as well ‘indexed’ compared to the one on the clear web, you can still use search engines to find the necessary stuff. If you are looking for dark web markets darkweblive.net is a good place.
Dark Web markets
A lot of people on the darkweb are trying to buy stuff on the dark web markets. To get these drugs you need to know where you can fin links to markets: A few places where you can get the onion URLs to these markets are:
deepwebpoint.com: This website is owned by us an you can get arrest information and opsec information on this website.
The Hidden Wiki & Co.
The Hidden Wiki is Wikipedia’s evil twin – they looks more or less the same, but the hidden wiki contains links to various dark web categories: volunteer, editor’s picks, financial services, introduction points, dark web markets, commercial services, email\messaging, drugs (yes, it’s the real deal), hosting providers, illegal porn, blogs & essays, hacking services, darknet radio, literature (a lot of resources available on hacking, with both white hat and black hat hacking).
The Hidden wiki lists the websites followed by a description of what they do, this way you can know what to expect in each website.
My advice to you would be to stick with the editor’s pick. You can also take a look at the blogs & essays section if you want to find some nifty coding resources.
If you feel like chatting, you can always access a chat room. There is a service called Random Chat that connects you with random people using the Random chat service. I suggest you stay away from this, it is very risky.
You should also stay away from anything labeled “porn” there “card skimming services”, “hacks”, “firearms”, “fake IDs and passports”. Believe me – there plenty to go around and each and every one of them are being kept under surveillance, not to mention the fact that you’ll get exposed to some stuff that will definitely make you take several cold showers.
Hidden Wiki’s not the only search engine online. Here are a couple of alternatives in case you get bored with Wiki.
- DuckDuckGo ( 3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion ) – This is regarded as the google of the dark web, they have a onion url and it is also available on the clear web. DuckDuck Go does not track your searches.
- Recon ( reconponydonugup.onion ) – Recon is a search engine run by the notorious HugBunter who is a massive figure on the dark web. Recon is a place where you can do reconnaissance on darkweb markets.
- Torch – This is the first dark web search engine, the Torch search engine boasts a database of several million onions links. It Works just like Yelp.
If you are active on the dark web, you will notice that you need to communicate with people a lot. This is because the dark web is built around people. So, it’s only natural to look for ways to keep in touch with your dark net customers and friends. There are many email services to pick from and you can end up signing up for many services if you don’t know what you are looking for.
Personally I recommend Elude and Danwin, I have not used the others extensively.
Elude.in Email ( eludemaillhqfkh5.onion) – a full fledged email service with a beautiful and simple design.
Danwin1210.me (danielas3rtn54uwmofdo3x2bsdifr47huasnmbgqzfrec5ubupvtpid.onion) – a simple, free and effective email service, straight to the point with no problems.
Bitmail.la – another pay-to-use email client. Has many features like IMAP, SMTP, and POP3 support, and a 500MB mailbox. Apparently, a lifetime membership costs $0.60.
Mail2Tor- this is a free email service which, works on both the dark and on the clear web.
Guerilla Mail – this creates a temporary and disposable email address.
Protonmail ( protonirockerxow.onion) – a popular choice, it has both paid and free subscriptions. Protonmail boasts browser-encrypted email technology.
More information on how to stay safe on the dark web
We have gone through the basics of accessing the dark web, below are a few tips and tricks to help you improve your Safety on the dark web.
1. Don’t maximize your Tor browsing window
Maximizing your tor browser window makes it easier for you to be tracked, your window dimensions can make it easy to track you. Though the newest versions of the tor browser automatically resize your windows when you maximize.
2. Never use your card for purchases
Don’t make this mistake, I repeat don’t make this mistake, 99% of the time people ask for this puts you at the risk of being scammed. I would say stay away from dark web shops but people on the darkweb know why they are going there. Your currency of choice when purchasing from the dark web must be monero. If you want to use bitcoin, you should mix them or use Wasabi wallet.
3. Increase the security settings
4. Close Tails after your session is finished
Make sure you close tails or your browser when you are done with the dark web. This is where Tails shines. The major advantage of tails is that it automatically wipes everything from your computer when you shut it down.
5. Don’t stick your nose where it should not be
There are a lot of criminal figures on the dark web and they are under surveillance , so don’t do things that could get you into trouble with the law. A lot of people have been arrested.
So, if the website looks fishy, close the tab, and forget about it.
I hope I have provided enough information about the dark web/dark net. This article will be update annually. And new information will be added from time to time.
Remember to take all of the necessary precautions when you are using the dark web/dark net.
More information onhow to access thedark web will be added regularly and updated.