How To Access The Dark Web
February 18th, 2015
DisclaimerThis article will show you how to access the Deep Web. There is some awesome stuff on the deep web as well as some not so awesome stuff. Be careful when browsing. Unlike the internet you use everyday, this portion of the web is largely unregulated and as such is host to the full-spectrum of what humans are capable of, from the incredible to the horrible. Note that I do not endorse any of the sites here, browse at your own risk.
Also, for tips on staying safe on the Dark Web and elsewhere online, see the Jolly Roger's Security Guide For Beginners
The Dark WebSo you've heard of the dark web before but aren't quite sure what it is, or what to make of it. You may have also heard terms thrown out there like the deep internet, dark internet, and surface internet. These all refer to different yet sometimes overlapping spaces on the internet.
The surface internet refers to the internet most people access everyday. It's largely where sites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo exist.
The deep internet is the portion of the internet that is typically not indexed by search engines (i.e. Google, Bing).
The dark internet refers to web addresses and network hosts that no one is able to reach.
Dark Web refers to the portion of the internet that people intentionally bury and is typically only accessible through the use of a special browser.
A lot of people use these terms interchangeably but they do in fact refer to different areas of the internet.
What I'll be showing you here is how to access the dark web through the Tor browser bundle. The dark web has been the home to sites like The Silk Road Marketplace, a site where users often trade Bitcoin for drugs. Yet the dark web also plays an important role for political dissidents and the privacy conscious. Even Facebook recently set up a way to access their site via Tor, making Facebook one of the newest additions to the dark web.
Meet Your New Browser: TorSo how do you get to the dark web?
Well first you're going to need to download the Tor Browser Bundle from torproject.org. The Tor Browser Bundle contains a version of Firefox along with some additional software that keeps websites from seeing your IP address and other information as you browse the web. Versions of the Tor browser have been made for just about every operating system, from Windows to Mac to Linux and Android, so you shouldn't have any problems there. I'm not going to go into the details of how Tor works here, for that I suggest you check out this overview of Tor from TorProject.org.
Download Tor Here
Once you have Tor downloaded go ahead and start it by running the file that you downloaded. For Windows users this will be a .exe file that will install the Tor browser bundle for you. For Linux users you'll need to run the start-tor-browser file found in the folder that you just downloaded.
After you've downloaded and installed Tor just start the program. Soon you'll see Tor's version of Firefox pop up with a window that should look like this:
You can also use the Tor browser to visit websites anonymously. One of the simplest uses of Tor is to check how web sites render or display from different areas of the world. For instance, if you go to Google.com in Tor you'll more than likely find yourself at the home page for another country's version of Google.
Getting To The Dark WebOnce you are up and running with Tor the next step is to visit our first .onion sites. The .onion suffix is sort of like .com or .net. Sites that use the .onion suffix are largely what make up the dark web and are only accessible through the use of the Tor browser.
The first thing I'm going to have you do is to go to this article in Tor. Just copy and past the address into the Tor Browser and you should see it render just like here. We're doing this so that you can click directly on the .onion addresses below and not have to copy and past them every time.
Note: When you navigate to this site you will see a warning sign saying that this site is trying to extract HTML5 canvas data.... This is from the code used to generate the bitcoin QR codes on the side of the page. You probably won't even use those codes so feel free to click not now and not allow this site access. The only functionality you'll be missing is the QR codes on the site. Also, if you're not comfortable with this then just copy and paste the links from here into Tor.
How To Access The Dark Web
It should look like this:
Usually when you're looking for something online you start with a search engine, so that's what we're going to do next.
Tor SearchTor Search is a crude search engine for the dark web. To use it just type in kbhpodhnfxl3clb4.onion to your address bar like you would a normal site.
Tor Search (.onion link)
You should see something like this pop up on your browser:
If you get a web page from your ISP saying that the website wasn't found and offering suggestions, then you probably just typed or entered the address into your regular web browser. Make sure you're using the Tor browser you downloaded and installed earlier.
To test Tor Search enter the term bitcoin and you'll see results for bitcoin mining pools among other things.
All You're WikiSo Tor Search was great and all, but let's be honest, it isn't quite the portal to the dark web you were looking for. In that case you might like this Wiki built specifically for .onion sites. It is a bit cleaner than some of the other places you might come across down there and lists a lot of useful Tor sites.
All You're Wiki (.onion link)
Facebook (.onion link)
Now, you could access Facebook through their normal Facebook.com url, but you could also try through their new .onion url. For the record I have yet to use this version of Facebook and probably won't. Still, navigating to their .onion url should look something like this:
DuckDuckGoNow let's say that you don't want to search the dark web, but you want to search the surface web from the dark web. Well you're in luck as there is a .onion portal to search engine DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo (.onion link)
Other Methods For Getting To The Dark WebThere is a handy site that acts as a layer between the surface internet and the dark web called Tor2Web.org. If you want to access a site on the Tor network but for whatever reason don't care to use the Tor browser then you can use this site. Just replace the .onion suffix of the tor/onion site with .tor2web.org.
Surface Internet Communities For Those Interested In The Dark WebAt the moment there are a number of subreddits and other sites that are the place to go if you're interested in learning about the dark web and .onion sites but don't actually want to poke around there.
Here is a short list:
/r/deepweb - general deep web dicussion
TheHiddenWiki.org - a wiki of .onion links
/r/darknetmarkets - discussion about dark web markets
/r/AgMarketplace - discussion about the Agora marketplace
/r/darknetplan - building a decentralized internet
ConclusionsWell there you have it, you are now fully able to access the dark web and visit .onion sites like a pro! You'll find all sorts of sites down here, from sites for political organization to digital marketplaces to bitcoin mining pools. Now you might ask, but why would I need this? Well there are a number of possible reasons. For a lot of us, myself included, I'm curious about the workings of the dark web. The idea that another internet exists that is beyond the reach of a lot of law enforcement is both incredibly intriguing and somewhat terrifying.
Maybe you're a journalist looking to dig up some information, or a political dissident. Maybe you're an intel analyst looking form information about a criminal or terrorist organization, maybe you just like your privacy and want a more anonymous internet where your every move isn't being recorded and marketed to. Or maybe you're just curious and want to see what this wild-west of the internet is doing. Either way, thanks for reading and stay safe down here!
If you have any questions or suggestions be sure to leave them in the comments and I'll get back to you with a response (I tip bitcoin to helpful comments!).