Dark web is not a fancy term coined in a fiction novel or a Marvel movie. It is as real as the internet itself. There is a misconception that Google has all the sites. In reality, Google only indexes a fraction of what’s available online. It is said that there is 500 times more content available than what Google has indexed. I am sure it sounds like a fib, but it is the reality that you might not aware of.
The reason why Google doesn’t index all the material is either because it is unavailable for indexing or Google is not interested. You have to apply special methods to access the hidden content or look in very specific places. When we say page not indexed, we refer to the dark web where you find all the lost or hidden content.
So What is The Dark Web and How to Access The Dark Web Sites?
Dark web is basically the forbidden forest of the internet. Everyone will advise you not to go there but truth be told, everybody wants to taste the magic of the dark web. We wish you could access the dark web by entering a link in your browser. Well, it turns out dark web has an entirely different protocol which has to be followed to the T.
Terminologies You Must Understand Related to The Dark Web
In order to understand the phenomenon of dark web, you must know a few terminologies. We have explained them below;
The deep web is not the dark web. It basically contains all the information that’s not being indexed by any search engine. There aren’t any special tools required to access deep web. You can find material on the deep web by using special search engines, directories, and wikis.
Unfortunately, useful deep web search engines like Alltheweb and CompletePlanet have been shut down. Still, you can look for information on search engines like DeeperWeb, The WWW Virtual Library, Surfwax, IceRocket. There is only one rule for searching on Deep Web i.e. be as specific as you can get.
Dark web is a much smaller part of the deep web. The content on the dark web is concealed for a reason. You need special tricks and tools to access the dark web. The charm of the dark web lies in its anonymity. You cannot identify anyone there. The freedom from any form of surveillance is the breath of fresh air on dark web.
Mostly, the dark web is used to sell illicit goods like drugs, weapons, credit card numbers. In some cases, the dark web is a place to look for hitmen, human traffickers, and child pornography. Also, it has blogs, forums, chat rooms, and private gaming servers like the normal web.
Dark web is an ideal spot for journalists and whistleblowers to share urgent information. Even Edward Snowden used dark web for revealing sensitive info.
Tor is a gateway to access the dark web. Of course, there are other methods as well but Tor is the most common one. Tor stands for The Onion Router. The dark web URLs have “.onion” instead of “.com”.
Tor can be defined as a web of volunteer relays which routes users’ internet connection. It is encrypted and traffic stays between relays situated worldwide thus making users completely anonymous.
Tor network can be accessed by downloading Tor browser via the official website. The Tor browser is pretty similar to other browsers so you won’t have any problem using it. It should be kept in mind that Tor browser is only available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is not advisable to use Tor via third-party apps on your smartphones. Check our I2P vs Tor comparison to join the onion debate.
How To Access The Dark Web
Important Note: .onion URLs have random alphabets and numbers. It is not possible to verify a URL on the dark web because of no HTTPs usage. In order to avoid landing on a wrong website and becoming prey to a scam, it is crucial that you enter the correct dark web URL. It is highly recommended to confirm a .onion URL from at least three sources before accessing it on Tor.
Finding Websites On The Dark Web
Finding websites on dark web remains a mystery. However, there are multiple sources dedicated to just finding different websites on the dark web. We have mentioned quite a few below;
- Special search engines
Conventional search engines like Google and Yahoo won’t tell you about dark web websites. It’s a good thing there are search engines that index .onion sites. You can go to search engines like Onion.city, Onion.to, and NotEvil.
Reddit has many subreddits dedicated to dark web websites. You can try /r/deepweb, /r/onions, and /r/Tor subreddits. It will narrow down many sources for you.
- Find Marketplaces
You can find marketplaces on the dark web via Grams. It is more useful for finding drugs and narcotics but you may find other stores as well.
You Truly Have To Hide On The Dark Web
We cannot stress enough about the anonymity on the dark web. If you are just roaming then you can afford to be carefree. However, if you are there for business or revealing a top secret then you have to be extra careful. Anyone spying on you cannot possibly know about your activity on a Tor network because it's encrypted but they can easily know that you are using Tor.
Honestly, it is enough to alert surveillance authorities and ISPs. In fact, a US court has allowed FBI to seize and search any device that’s been using Tor around the world. Since the dark web is used for questionable purposes, government bodies are extra careful about it. The circumstances ask dark web users to add another layer of protection before accessing it. You must hide on the dark web.
VPNs Are Must To Access The Dark Web
VPNs surely can provide that extra layer of protection. However, there is an interesting debate about VPN over Tor or Tor over VPN. We have discussed both the options in detail below. There are arguments for both the options but Tor without VPN is seriously troublesome.
Tor Over VPN
“Tor over VPN is when you connect to a VPN before opening Tor.”
Tor over VPN is used by most people. First, you connect to a VPN which encrypts your traffic and makes you invisible. Then, you access Tor which bounces you within the Tor network until you lands on your desired URL.
This way your ISP or any other surveillance authority will not be able to figure out about the Tor usage on your PC. In this method, you trust the VPN provider over ISP. You have to ensure that the VPN doesn’t maintain any logs, especially traffic logs. If the VPN is maintaining the record of your internet activity then there is no point of subscribing to a VPN. Remember, Tor over VPN requires a logless VPN otherwise it is as good as nothing.
VPN Over Tor
“VPN over Tor is when you access Tor network first before connecting to a VPN”
VPN over Tor is not a very popular method. The official Tor project has advised against VPN over Tor. Also, not many VPNs support this service. In this case, you access Tor unprotected which means your ISP knows about it and then connect to a VPN. You are protected on Tor network but there is no point since the ISPs are aware of your Tor activity.
Recommended VPNs For Dark Web
Until now, it is clear that dark web requires VPN with strict no logs policy. However, that’s not the only criterion for a good VPN for dark web. We have listed down the best VPNs for dark web based on their flawless performance. Here they are;
Experience The Ultimate Anonymity With Dark Web
Dark web promises complete anonymity. To be honest, it is pretty ordinary and normal if you don’t have anything to do there except for browsing. You will feel the adrenaline of being on the dark web when you are actually buying something in a shady marketplace, dumping secret documents, or whistleblowing a petty corporate secret.
Of course, not everyone has such tasks to perform on the dark web. However, it is good to know that there is such a place available online that lets you do anything without revealing your identity. Just be careful about the surveillance authorities and ISPs when you access dark web. Your fun visit to the dark web may end up being a pain in the head (read a*s).
What do you think – is dark web a safe zone or a spot for questionable activities? Share your opinion in the comments section below.