You may have heard a lot about the so-called Deep Web and Dark Web lately. The Deep Web is the part of the Internet that houses 90+ percent of the web yet it’s completely tucked away from the easy access we’ve come to enjoy from search engines. The Dark Web, on the other hand, is a smaller portion of these Deep Web that’s only accessible with special software like the Tor browser.
Now you’re probably asking, is the Deep Web and Dark Web even legal? Technically, yes. There are many websites that exist within the Dark Web that provide illegal products or services, but generally speaking the Deep Web and Dark Web in and of themselves are legal. They can actually be a fantastic resource of knowledge and power when used mindfully.
If you’re curious about taking a gander into the unknown, be prepared. Due to the anonymous and vulnerable nature of the Dark Web, it’s important to keep in mind certain things you should and shouldn’t do when accessing it.
Do: Get Started with Tor
To access the Dark Web, you’ll need to download the Tor browser for free. Just visit Tor’s website and click Download Tor.
Note: Tor is available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.
Once you download and install Tor, you’ll have to go through a very quick setup process. Tor will ask you whether you want to connect directly to the Tor Network or use your own secure connection. For all intents and purposes, click Connect to get onto the Tor Network. It’ll take a few seconds, but in a moment the Tor browser will launch. You’re ready to go.
Don’t: Confuse Deep Web with Dark Web
Tor isn’t for accessing the Deep Web. It technically could, but so could any other browser. In fact, you’re probably very often within the Deep Web and you don’t even know it.
Search engines crawl the Internet by visiting one web page, then all of the links on that page, then all of the links on those pages and so on. But what about when there aren’t any links? When you’re on Facebook and you search through content or perhaps on a Flash website with pop-up information, you didn’t click any links. You searched or stayed on the same page, yet you’re viewing different content. This is the Deep Web because it’s not indexable by current search engines.
The Dark Web is not separate from the Deep Web, but rather it is a portion of the Deep Web. Specifically, it’s the portion neither standard search engines nor standard web browsers can access.
Tor’s browser connects to what’s called the Tor network, which establishes an anonymous connection that protects against network surveillance and tracking. In addition to being able to access any website you can in a standard browser, you can also access Dark Web URLs that end in .onion.
Do: Use Directories to Browse Safely and Responsibly
So once you’re on the Tor browser, you’re probably at a loss. Tor doesn’t provide you with links to start surfing the Dark Web, so it’s up to you to find them instead.
One of the most comprehensive resources for the Dark Web in Tor is The Hidden Wiki. It’s accessible in the Tor browser at http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion. (Yes, most Onion URLs are confusing like that.)
Important: It’s crucial that you understand before visiting this website that it does include links to illegal and disturbing services alike. Take the time to finish reading this entire article before riding into the Dark Web without training wheels so you can avoid dangerous corners. Browse at your own risk.
The Hidden Wiki is a huge directory that provides links to Onion websites with various services, secure email, secure social networks and more.
What’s powerful about Tor is it enables anonymous voices to be heard very loudly than on regular parts of the Web. Perhaps you’re an activist or someone in an oppressed nation that wants to protect your identity. Tor securely enables this.
Don’t: Click Suspicious Links or Partake in Criminal Activity
While the Dark Web might be home to a wealth of valuable information and services, it’s also notorious for being incredibly dangerous. Many websites that operate within the Dark Web are home illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, child pornography, theft, gore and much more.
Be cautious of any link that you choose to click because some can be deceptive. Of course avoid any and all links that advertise any of the above or any illegal, disturbing, or harmful content you don’t wish to see.
Again, browse at your own risk. Ultimately, use anonymous web browsing and your access to the Dark Web in an appropriate and legal manner.