How to access the Dark Web on any device
Access Dark Web Key Points
- You can access the deep web and dark web on any device by using the Tor browser (or Onion Browser for iOS devices).
- It’s perfectly legal to access and use the dark web, but you shouldn’t engage in illegal activities.
- When browsing the dark web, you should always be aware of online threats and use additional protection like a VPN and antivirus.
Browse the Dark Web Only with a VPN!
Most online users only experience a small fraction of the Internet and never unlock the door to all of its possibilities. They only browse the mainstream surface web. But, there’s much more that lies underneath. Namely, I’m talking about the dark web. So, how do you access this veiled part of the Internet?
To access some hidden sites or services, you are required to have a Tor Browser. This tool is available on Windows, macOS, Android, and Linux platforms. You will need to download and install this browser on your device from a Tor Project website – it’s 100% free and safe.
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Access Dark Web Safely on Windows
To browse the dark web on Windows, you need to download and install Tor Browser. This is pretty straightforward, and you can do it in just a few steps. Here’s how you access the dark web on Windows devices:
- Go to https://www.torproject.org/download/ and download the Windows installer:
- Install the Tor browser from the Windows installer you just downloaded
- Once Installed – launch the Tor Browser, and you will be able to browse the dark web.
- To test the access, try to visit a .onion domain website which you can find in the article below.
How to Access Dark Web on Mac
Installing the Tor browser on your Mac involves an identical process to the one above. In just four simple steps, you can set up and use the browser to search the dark web on your Mac. Here’s how you can access the dark web on Mac:
- Go to https://www.torproject.org/download/ and download the Mac installer:
- Install Tor browser from the Mac installer you just downloaded
- Once Installed – launch the Tor Browser and you will be able to access the Dark Web
- To test the access try to visit a .onion domain website which you can find in the article below.
How to Access the Dark Web on Android
To install Tor on Android you can either download and install the browser app via Google Play or directly from the Tor website. In the step-by-step guide below, I’ll show you how to do so from the official Google Play Store:
- Go to the Google Play app and search for Tor
- Click install
- Then Open
- To test the access, visit a .onion domain website which you can find in the article below.
How to Access the Dark Web on iPhone
To browse the dark web on iOS you need to use a browser called Onion Browser. According to Tor, Onion Browser is less secure than Tor Browser due to technical limitations by the iOS platform:
You can get an onion browser for iOS on the App Store. Just type in “Onion Browser” and it will appear in your search results. The download and installation is quick. After that, you can open the Onion Browser and use it to access the dark web.
How to Access the Deep Web Without the Tor browser?
There is a way to access .Onion without Tor. There are VPN providers, like NordVPN, that have specific server setups that route your traffic via the Tor network to increase anonymity, these are also known as “Tor over VPN” or “Onion over VPN” servers.
Since VPN traffic is routed via Tor Network it can access and show Dark Web content in your regular browser. All you need to do is to connect to a VPN server and start browsing. Again, this is a specific feature that not many VPN providers have.
With all of this said, I should place a caveat on this method of accessing the deep web. It is important to know that accessing the deep web without the Tor browser can be risky. It may expose you to various security risks, including malware, hacking, and surveillance.
This is why accessing the deep web without the Tor browser is not recommended. This browser is specifically designed to protect the user’s privacy and security when accessing sites on the Tor network.
What Can You Find on Dark Web
You probably heard a lot of rumors about what is deep down on the dark side of the Internet – from scary videos to red rooms and tons of illegal content and activities, and actually, some of these rumors are surely true!
That said, it all depends on what you are looking for. The range of things you can find goes from normal to pretty heinous. Here are just some of the many things you can find on the deep and dark web:
- Hidden service lists
- Dark web commerce sites for financial and commercial services (fraud included)
- Dark web marketplaces for illegal drugs and guns
- Hosting services
- Blogs and forums
- Anonymous email and messaging services
- Dark web websites providing uncensored political content
- Hacking services, malware shops
- Hacked Netflix accounts
- Pornography and child pornography
- Stolen information like login credentials
- Online banking accounts and private bank account information
- Medical records
- Other uncategorized deep web content
As you can see, the above list is pretty extensive, and I’ve only scratched the surface of the content available on the deep web and dark web websites. A lot of what you can find on the deep web consists of data that you wouldn’t want anyone to have access to if it was about you.
On the other hand, you can also find great journalists who believe that the dark web is the only way they can provide a free press in today’s increasingly censorship-oriented world.
So, it all depends on how you use the dark web and what you choose to look up in your search queries.
Why Do the Deep Web and Dark Web Exist?
The deep web and dark web exist for a variety of reasons, including privacy, security, and anonymity. The deep web refers to any content that is not indexed by search engines.
The dark web is a small part of the deep web that is intentionally hidden and inaccessible without specialized software, such as Tor. To expand on this, a lot of the content that an average online user accesses on the surface web is part of the deep web.
For example, even if some information on the surface is hidden behind log in credentials or authentication forms, it is still part of the deep web. This is why it’s essential to keep your surface web clean and maintain online privacy.
Due to these features, the deep and dark web serve as important tools for individuals seeking to communicate privately and securely. However, they can also be used for prohibited activities.
As they are such powerful tools of an anonymous nature, you should use them responsibly, keep safe from dangers that lurk on the deep web, and refrain from engaging in any criminal activity.
Where Can You Find Dark Web Sites?
Finding websites on the dark web can be a bit more challenging than finding normal websites on the regular Internet. The reason for this is that many onion websites are not indexed by search engines and do not have traditional web addresses.
In other words, you can’t use a standard web browser and search engine you use to access normal websites. This is because these search results will only show on a dark web browser. So – you’ve guessed it, you need to use special dark web tools like dark web search engines and browsers.
Since .onion URLs look like a bunch of seemingly random letters and numbers thrown together, it’s not easy either to remember or to type those gibberish URLs. To navigate the Dark Web, here are some resources you could try that have some helpful links:
Once you are on the Dark Web itself, to help you navigate the network, you could try one of the oldest search engines on the network called Torch that you can access on the clear net as well via this link.
For a more comprehensive list of popular search engines, here’s a list of dark web search engines that specialize in accessing the dark web:
- DuckDuckGo – http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion
- Torch (on Tor Network) – http://xmh57jrzrnw6insl.onion/
- Not Evil – http://hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion/
- Grams – http://grams7enufi7jmdl.onion
- Ahmia (on clearnet) – https://ahmia.fi/search/
Is it Illegal to Access the Dark Web?
Even though the dark web is a place for a lot of doubtful content and criminal activities, accessing Dark Web is not illegal or forbidden in any way. However, some things might get you into trouble. On the Dark Web, you could find some marketplaces, forbidden content, and services that in most countries are forbidden.
Owning or hosting such a marketplace where the illegal activity takes place is considered illegal. Ordering unregulated or illegal drugs or distributing inappropriate content is considered illegal.
However, just accessing it to take a sneak peek at forums or the prices on the dark markets is not something against the law. As long as you’re interacting with those breaking the law in any way.
To put it more concisely, is the dark web illegal? No, just visiting sites on the dark web is not illegal. Provided that using Tor is legal in your location.
But, knowing this, it also poses the question – can you still feel safe? It depends on what dark web pages you access and your safety practices when doing so.
With the latter in mind, you can use tools like proxy servers, VPNs, and anonymous email addresses when accessing the dark web to stay as private as possible. These will help you avoid tracking from your Internet Service Provider, as well as any malicious third parties.
Do Law Enforcement Agencies Monitor Dark Websites?
Yes, law enforcement agencies do monitor and observe dark web marketplaces to detect and prevent illicit activities, such as the sale of drugs, weapons, and stolen data. In fact, many law enforcement agencies have specialized units or task forces that focus on investigating crimes that occur on the dark web.
Over the years, there have been some notable crackdowns that captured criminals operating on dark websites.
For example, the founder of the notorious Silk Road marketplace has been sentenced to life in prison. The same happened to the alleged founder of the AlphaBay dark website.
With these and many more occurrences in the past, it’s safe to say that law enforcement officials do have a strong interest in stopping criminal activity on the dark web, especially when it comes to the top organizers. So, when they do clamp down, the legal consequences for those who are caught are often very severe.
Are the Deep Web and Dark Web Safe?
Tor is safe to surf anonymously, but when browsing the unknown, you should always exercise extreme caution. Considering the concentration of illegal activities, strange websites, and hackers, the risk of your personal information getting exposed or downloading a malicious file is much higher than browsing regularly.
Routing your traffic from Tor to the clearnet is also considered unsafe – Tor nodes, primarily the Tor exit node, may be controlled by the eavesdropper that can inspect or manipulate your Internet traffic. In this case, you’re actually putting yourself in more danger, as the malicious person who controls the exit node can steal your information.
Therefore, it is best to use a VPN for Dark Web that encrypts your whole traffic inside a VPN tunnel preventing the attackers from seeing anything you try to visit, hiding your personal identity and preventing them from manipulating your information.
How to Safely Exit the Dark Web?
You’ll find many tips online on how to access the deep and dark web, but not how to safely exit it. So, to provide you with a complete guide on the dark web, I want to briefly address this important aspect as well.
Before closing the browser, close each tab individually. Also, use the “New Identity” feature before closing Tor. It allows you to generate a new IP address and effectively clear your browsing history. Using “New Identity” ensures that your online activities are not traced.
Lastly, you can also disconnect from the Internet immediately after exiting the browser. This will help you ensure that the new IP address is in full effect before you connect again and start browsing the surface web.
A Brief History of the Dark Web – Why Was the Dark Web Created?
One of the first predecessors of the Dark Web (or Dark Net) is a project called Freenet, which was based on an academic paper written by Ian Clark in 1999. The project was created and designed in order to circumvent internet censorship and allow the expression of free speech and ideas.
Freenet had the technology that provided encryption and anonymity, which allowed secure and anonymous file sharing across the network.
After a while, Tor (The Onion Router) was created. It was initially funded by the US military to create a secure and anonymous way of communication in case of an unforeseen emergency.
Anonymous online payments became possible with the Bitcoin creation in the 2000s. Since then, the Tor network quickly gained popularity among many scammers, drug dealers, and hackers, and became a hidden place of other illegal activities instead of becoming the means of free speech.
Today the Dark Web provides anonymity and secure communications and Tor (which is considered one of the biggest Dark Webs out there along with I2P, Freenet, and others) can be accessed via a browser called Tor Browser.
In Short: How Does the Dark Web / Tor Network Work
Tor network – the biggest Dark Web out there – can be accessed via Tor Browser developed by Tor. It uses Firefox as a base browser and is pre-configured to provide security and a certain level of anonymity.
Tor network provides anonymity by a method so-called onion routing – it makes your connection jump via multiple different proxy servers (known as nodes) inside the Tor network each time changing your IP address. This system makes it really hard for anyone to trace who you are.
The Dark Net, or in particular the Tor network, is available for access via the Tor browser that can be installed on Windows, macOS, Android, and Linux. You can also set it up on iOS by using a different browser called the Onion browser, which is available in the Apple App Store.
The Dark Net is highly anonymous, and the technology makes it difficult to track its users and therefore, it has a lot of websites such as drug marketplaces and illegal content spread around. Besides the biggest DarkNet – Tor – there are other ones, such as I2P and Freenet, the latter being the predecessor of all dark net.
No matter which device you use to access the deep web from, it’s important to secure personal data and protect against the increased risk of exposing your identity.
As an online privacy expert, I advise you to always use a VPN service with Tor. It routes your internet traffic via a highly secure and encrypted VPN tunnel and scrambles your Information. As such, a VPN prevents eavesdroppers from stealing and modifying your data and hides the fact that you’re using Tor.
Dark Web Access FAQs
Is it illegal to use search engines like Tor?
No, it is not illegal to use Tor or any other search engine, as long as you use it for legal purposes. The Tor Browser itself is a legal software tool that can be used to browse the internet anonymously and protect users’ privacy. However, you shouldn’t engage in any illegal activities when using this browser.
What is the best dark web browser?
While there are several great dark web browsers, the most popular and arguably the best dark web browser is Tor. Tor can use any popular search engine, such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. That said, the best search engine to use with Tor is DuckDuckGo, as it doesn’t track you or collect your data.
Can I use my regular web browser to access the dark web?
No, you cannot access the dark web using a regular web browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. The dark web is part of the Internet that is not indexed and cannot be accessed using a regular web browser. The dark web requires you to use a specialized browser, such as the Tor Browser.
Is the dark web dangerous?
Yes, the dark web can be dangerous. Because it provides a high degree of anonymity and privacy for its users, it is often associated with illegal activities. There is also a risk of encountering scams, malware, and other types of cybercrime when accessing the dark web.
Some websites on the dark web may attempt to steal personal information, infect your device with malware, or trick you into sending money or making a purchase for a product or service that does not exist. This is why you should always make sure you safely access sites and avoid using any unprotected website, no matter how tempting it is.
What is the “clear web”?
The term “clear web” is used to describe the opposite of the “dark web,” which refers to the part of the Internet that is intentionally hidden. The clear web is commonly used to refer to the most publicly accessible part of the Internet that is indexed by search engines and accessible through standard web browsers.
How big is the dark web?
It is difficult to estimate the size of the dark web as it is not indexed by engines and its content is hidden behind layers of encryption and anonymity. Moreover, domains aren’t as consistent as those on the surface web. The dark web is generally considered to be smaller than the surface web.
Should I use Tor over VPN or VPN over Tor to access the dark web?
Using Tor over VPN is considered more secure, as the VPN encrypts your Internet traffic and hides your IP address, while Tor provides additional privacy and anonymity by routing your traffic through multiple servers. However, it may result in slower Internet speed due to the added encryption and routing.
On the other hand, using VPN over Tor means that you first connect to the network using the Tor browser and then connect to a VPN service. This method can provide faster Internet speed, but it may be less secure, as the VPN provider can potentially see your real IP address and may be able to track your online activities.
Cybersecurity and VPN researcher