For anyone who has come across the term ‘dark web’, the popular notion is that it is a hotbed for all things illegal. However, this might be only half-true at best. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the dark web which is perhaps why, more often than not, its not-so-infamous side goes unnoticed. In this article, we’ll share with you a list of some of the best dark websites that might just be cool to explore and even prove to be useful. Now, you can’t access these ‘onion sites’ on Google or other regular search engines as they run on private server networks. Read on to find out more about the dark web and how you can access it.
Dark Web Vs Deep Web: What’s the difference?
It is easy to confuse the dark web with the deep web; however, the two are entirely different.
The deep web refers to anything online that is inaccessible through a search engine. Think of it as the layer resting below the visible ‘open web’ or the surface web. From a statistical point of view, the deep web accounts for nearly 90% of the total internet (the surface web makes for under 5 percent). The information on the non-visible deep web is safeguarded behind powerful firewalls and entails your email and social messaging accounts, financial records, private databases, medical records, and other protected files not meant to be exposed to the public. All this hidden content is generally clean and poses no threat to you at large.
A rather concealed subdivision of the deep web, the dark web refers to the sites that are unindexed and inaccessible by normal search engines like Google. It can only be accessed through specialised web browsers. The dark web has a bad reputation and is commonly associated with illegal or immoral content and the trading of illicit goods or services. It might seem like you’re better off the dark web, but it’s definitely a place worth visiting too. For those who do intend to seek it out, it is important to note that the dark web dangers are much more extreme and threatening as compared to the deep web. So, be on guard!
Let’s explore how you can access the dark web safely and the measures you need to take.
How to access the dark web?
It must be clear to you by now that dark websites can’t be accessed by regular URLs. Instead, they use onion links ending with .onion domain that is not registered with any central authority. The best way to access dark websites is to download and install an anonymous browser like Tor (also called the onion browser). Once installed, you can find any site you’d like to visit on the dark web similar to how a traditional browser works.
Steps to access the dark web using Tor browser
- Click here to download the latest Tor browser.
- Open the downloaded file and follow the prompts to install Tor browser on your PC/laptop or Android mobile phone.
- Once installed, click on the Tor browser icon to open it.
- Tap the “Connect” button and wait for a connection to be established.
- Start surfing the dark web!
List of best dark websites
10 most popular websites on the dark web
1. Hidden Wiki
The Hidden Wiki is your one-stop resource for onion links to a wide range of websites on the dark web. However, it is important to note that while some links on this site are legit, others may not be safe and some might even not work. So, be cautious about what you click on!
Link: The Hidden Link
A preferred alternative to Google on the dark web, DuckDuckGo lets you search the surface web while guaranteeing your privacy. In other words, this private search engine won’t track your browsing history or any other data and thus, offer non-personalised search results.
As surprising as it may sound, the world’s largest social media giant has a .onion address of its own. You can use this official mirror website to create an anonymous Facebook account via the dark web. Further, it makes the platform accessible in places where it’s censored.
4. Hidden Answers
One of the most visited sites on the dark web, Hidden Answers is a place for you to ask for advice, answer someone else’s query or just talk about anything and everything under the sun. Basically, it’s like a dark web version of Reddit or Quora that offers total anonymity.
Link: Hidden Answers
Five-time Pulitzer Prize winner ProPublica is the first major news outlet to have a dark web version. The presence of this non-profit investigative journalism outfit on Tor allows you to remain anonymous and lets you bypass country blocks; whilst promoting free speech.
A favourite among the media community, SecureDrop is a platform where journalists and their sources can communicate freely without having to reveal anyone’s identity. A lot of news outlets use this platform to accept confidential information from whistleblowers.
Similar to messaging apps like WhatsApp in functionality, Keybase allows you to share files with friends and other contacts. The best part about this dark website is that your data is end-to-end encrypted using public-key cryptography to ensure privacy and anonymity.
If you plan to use the Tor network regularly, you might want to include ZeroBin in your list of dark web favourites. It is useful for sending encrypted text with an auto-destruct feature to your contacts. Even their servers won’t have any knowledge of whatever you copy-paste.
If you’re looking for a secure email client on the dark web, Riseup is for you. This volunteer-run website keeps no record of your activity and is also protected against malicious attacks and government interference. It also offers tips on increasing your information security.
10. The Hidden Wallet
Over the last couple of years, Bitcoin has caught up with the general public. However, it has been used for transactions on the dark web for quite some time now. On The Hidden Wallet, you can manage your cryptocurrency as well as crypto trade with complete anonymity.
Link: The Hidden Wallet
Safety measures while browsing on the dark web
As exciting as the dark web is, it is unquestioningly a dangerous territory to explore as well. Most sites on the dark web are non-indexed and unregulated, which puts you at a greater risk of scams, malware software, and other threats. Hence, it is always a good idea to take some safety measures first if you have a legitimate need to venture out in the dark web.
1. Use a reliable VPN connection
Make sure you connect to a safe VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection before entering the dark web. It will conceal your IP address, encrypt your traffic and prevent anyone from knowing that you’re using a Tor browser, whilst ensuring your privacy and security.
2. Install strong antivirus software
Before you access the dark web, make it a point to install good antivirus software to keep your device protected against endless threats on the dark web. A strong antivirus saves you from being the target of hackers, malware infections, phishing scams and more.
3. Protect your identity
Identity theft is a very real threat in the world of the dark web. Hence, make it a point to use an encrypted and anonymous email address while visiting dark websites. If you plan to make a purchase, always pay with an unidentifiable cryptocurrency wallet. It is also a good idea to employ online security services for active monitoring of identity and financial theft.
4. Watch what you download
The probability of a file downloaded from the dark web being embedded with malicious code is too high. Thus, it is best to avoid downloading anything while you’re in the lawless territory of the dark web. If you still opt to download, use real-time file scanning.
5. Be careful!
Perhaps the thumb rule of venturing out into the world of the dark web is to be extra cautious! It is important that you confirm an onion website’s authenticity before visiting it. Be selective and don’t just click on any dark web link. And most of all, be smart and trust your gut!
1. Can I access the dark web on my phone?
Yes, it is surprisingly easy to access the dark web on Android mobile devices. The process is pretty much the same as you would on a computer. Download the Tor browser, connect to a VPN server, open the app and start browsing. For iPhone users, it might be a little difficult as there is no official Tor app for iOS. However, you can rely on other onion browsers.
2. Can you be tracked on the dark web?
It’s not likely! There is little to no chance that your dark web activities can be traced back to you (unless of course, you’re guilty of engaging in some serious criminal activities).
3. Is the dark web illegal?
It might seem so, but the dark web is not illegal. It may be home to some illegitimate and illicit activities; however, simply accessing the dark web sites won’t get you into any legal trouble as long as you choose not to engage in any of the criminal activities on it.
4. Who created the dark web?
The dark web was created by the US government for the purpose of communicating with their spies without the risk of being tracked in the process. In 2002, the Tor (or The Onion Router) technology used for the dark web was made available to the general public.