The internet is basically divided into three parts. The first part is the open net, where you can find Google, VPNetic, social media, and the like.
The next part is the “deep web” where all the password-protected information can be found and things like medical journals and bank accounts.
The third part is referred to as the “dark web”.
Here you will find websites operating through the darknet, such as black markets and criminal networks.
You can not access the dark web through a regular browser like Chrome, Opera, or Firefox.
You need a special browser like the TOR browser to access website addresses that end with .onion, which all dark web websites do.
In this article, cybersecurity expert Per-Erik Eriksson will explain what the dark web is and how you can access it safely with a trusted VPN.
Best VPN for Dark Web
What is the dark web?
The dark web is a hidden part of the internet that does not get indexed by search engines.
You can not access the dark web with a regular browser.
The web addresses end with .onion instead of .com and you will need a browser like TOR to access it.
Most of the dark web is being used to share, sell, and buy illegal materials.
Common items sold on the dark webs are stolen credit cards, illegal drugs, counterfeit money, and hacked user accounts.
How to access the dark web
Here is a step by step guide to accessing the dark web:
- It is strongly recommended that you use a VPN while you browse the dark web in order to protect your digital information unless you are using a virtual OS. If you want to be even more secure, download Tails OS.
- Download TOR browser here.
- Use the “Hidden Wiki” to navigate the dark web.
Dark web links
The best way to find active dark web links is by going to the Hidden Wiki which can be found here.
Dark web screenshots
What is the deep web?
The deep web is not that exciting in comparison to the dark web. Everything on the internet that is not accessible to anyone is referred to as the deep web. Content behind paywalls, bank records, private databases are all part of the deep web and it makes up a huge chunk of the internet.
What is the difference between the deep web and the dark web?
The deep web refers to everything that cannot be accessed without login-credentials on the web. Medical records, passwords, and private databases included. The current estimated size of the deep web is 95% of the whole internet.
The dark web, on the other hand, is a totally different part of the internet that cannot be accessed through regular browsers. Although there are lots of illegal activity on the dark web, there are legitimate uses for it. In certain regions, it is being used to circumvent censorship from authoritarian governments.
What is darknet?
Darknet is a network of computers that can not be accessed without proper configuration and authorization. While there are lots of illicit activities, there are also many legitimate users such as journalists, whistle-blowers, and other oppressed actors. Tor (“The onion router”) is the most popular instance of the darknet. However, there are 11 other protocols which are:
- Decentralized network 42
What is TOR?
TOR Project is a private browser intended to combat censorship, protect anonymity, and protect people from surveillance and tracking. Sometimes also referred to as a dark web browser or the onion browser.
It is free to download and will block common browser plugins like Flash, RealPlayer, & QuickTime because they can be used to show your IP-address. You can use TOR even in countries where it has been blocked by connecting it to a bridge during setup.
Download TOR browser
Download TOR browser only from their official website here: https://www.torproject.org/.
What is PGP?
PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. It is the most widely used email encryption software in the world. It is also commonly used for signing, encrypting, and decrypting files and texts by drug-vendors at dark web markets. It follows the OpenPGP standard for encryption. It was first released in 1991 by computer scientist and cryptographer Phil Zimmerman.
What is Tails OS?
The Amnesiac Incognito Live System or Tails OS is a Unix-like operative system first released in 2009 which you can start from almost any computer or USB-stick. The system is popular for users seeking anonymity because it is designed to not leave a digital footprint on the user’s system. Tails is 100% free to use and download and has received financial support from The TOR Project. The goal of Tails OS is to preserve privacy and anonymity to those who are facing aggressive censorship from their governments.
Dark web search
Since the dark web isn’t indexed like regular websites by Google and Bing, searching for what you need becomes a bit more complicated. However, there are search engines designed just for the dark web. One of the most popular ones is Torch, which can be found at this onion address: http://xmh57jrzrnw6insl.onion/
To access dark web sites with TOR browser you need .onion links as we mentioned above.
But where can you find these links?
- Directories. The Hidden Wiki is a well-known example of a directory of Darkweb links.
- Forums/word of mouth. Sometimes there are hidden links that are only linked in certain forums.
- Dark web search engines. Torch is one of the largest search engines on the dark web but DuckDuckGo is another privacy-based search engine that also lets you search the regular web.
Empire Market is the most known underground drug-market on the dark web, but each country usually has its own version for domestic trades.
You can buy basically anything on these markets, but many choose to only deal with drugs while others may specialize in other areas. These markets are often heavily surveilled by authorities, which is why many require that you use PGP when ordering. PGP will encrypt your information as only the seller has the key to decrypt your message.
Dark Web Movie: Unfriended
Unfriended: Dark Web is an American horror movie released in 2018 which helped make the dark web mainstream. The film received mixed reviews from critics but was appreciated for its correct portrayal of the dark web.
Dark web FAQ
🕸 What is the dark web?
- The dark web is a part of the internet that’s not visible to search engines and requires the use of a browser like TOR in order to be accessed.
🕸 What is the deep web?
- The deep web is the part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines. Everything from medical journals to password-protected databases is included in the deep web.
🕸 Is dark web legal?
- It is not illegal to visit the dark web. However, many activities occurring on the dark web is illegal, such as drug-markets, sale of firearms, and even blueprints to bombs.
🕸 Can you use a VPN and Tor together?
- They both utilize encrypted proxy connections to hide the user’s identities and can be used together to create an extra layer of security. As long as you are using a safe VPN-service that do not carry logs over the user’s activity.
🕸 How to access the dark web?
You need three things:
- A VPN to protect your anonymity.
- A .onion browser like TOR.
- .onion Web addresses.
SUP46, Start-Up People of Sweden, Regeringsgatan 6th floor, Stockholm
Author Per-Erik Eriksson
Per-Erik-Eriksson is the main author of VPNetic. Everything you read here has been written by him or one of his colleagues. Per-Erik has 10 years of experience within cybersecurity and has previously worked at Microsoft as a software engineer.