Going to the dark web is not a very complicated operation, although it can take time to find the hidden sites that interest us. VPN, Tor, .onion address directories, we give you the basics to start your dark web experience.
The dark web is the source of many fantasies. It must be said that it gives access to a hidden part of the internet which is not available from current tools, which contributes to making it mysterious and to nourishing more or less truthful beliefs about it. We often talk about it badly, in the context of illegal activities. But it is actually much more than that.
What is the dark web, is it dangerous and how to get there: these are some of the questions we will answer in this article.
What is the dark web?
Do you feel like you have access to everything that is possible once you open a web browser and go to a search engine? Well know that only scratch the surface. It is estimated that less than 10% of the web is open, while everything else is hidden. This visible part of the internet is called the web surface, and build up websites that anyone can access: online press, social networks, public sites … in short everything that is available via a simple request on Google, Qwant, DuckDuckGo (the second most popular search engine). before on Android after Google) or any search engine.
Then we find what is called the deep web, the deep web, which constitutes the vast majority (over 90%) of the content available on the Net. It is not possible to access these contents by a simple query on a search engine, because they are not indexed by the latter. It is often information and private databases which must be consulted only by specific people: professional intranets, medical personal files, company data, universities, public administrations, government services … You have to know the address the exact URL of these websites to access them. They can also be protected with passwords.
Finally, the last layer is the one that interests us more particularly here: the dark web. This represents a small portion of the deep web, but has its own specificities. It is more difficult to access it, because unlike the deep web, you need a special browser to go to a site hidden in the dark web. The best known is undoubtedly Tor. Dark web page URLs can change from time to time to escape surveillance, and are very different from the URLs we are used to dealing with. They are generally composed of a mixture of letters and numbers generated randomly, with at the end a different suffix from the traditional .fr, .com, .net or .org to which we are accustomed. On Tor, sites end with .onion for example.
To symbolize and simply synthesize what these three components of the web represent, we generally use the metaphor of the iceberg. The web surface is the tip of the iceberg, while the deep web is the tip of the iceberg. The dark web is the deepest area of this submerged part. Similarly, Tor is actually the abbreviation for The Onion Router, reference to the different layers that the web can have, like an onion.
Read also : the data of 73 million internet users is for sale on the dark web
Why go to the dark web?
Due to the lack of control and the possibility of browse anonymously, the dark web necessarily hosts a lot of illegal activities. But it is also used by political dissidents or persecuted populations in order to exchange without fear of being identified. The dark web protects against surveillance measures put in place by governments, which makes it popular in countries where individuals are targeted for their political ideas, their sexual orientation, their religion …
The dark web is also a tool for accessing information that is usually inaccessible, or to bypass government censorship. Originally, the Tor project was created by the intelligence and espionage agencies of the United States, who wanted to use the Internet to facilitate communication between its resources while having a secure line of communication.
Lastly, the dark web can be useful for procure goods and services difficult to access otherwise and anonymously.
Is the dark web illegal?
You are not risking anything by going to the dark web or using Tor under the law, it is absolutely legal to resort to both. Of course, you will be subject to local law if you decide to break the law and engage in illegal activity on the dark web, just as you would be on the web surface. So it all depends on how you use it, but in itself you can definitely go to the dark web.
Should you use a VPN to go to the dark web?
There is no need to use a VPN to be able to visit the dark web. However, be aware that using Tor and going to the dark web does not make your browsing anonymous at all, it can be easy to find your IP address and trace it back to you. By using a VPN, you can prevent your ISP or a government agency from tracking you and even knowing that you are using Tor. The latter is “content” with encrypting your traffic.
If you want protect your privacy and anonymity, it is therefore recommended to use a VPN, to be activated of course before connecting to Tor. It is much more efficient to connect to the Tor network from a VPN connection than to connect to a VPN from Tor.
How to access the dark web?
We are now getting to the heart of the matter. In the following lines, we’ll describe how you can get to the dark web in a few simple steps. No need to be a computer pro, manipulation is within everyone’s reach.
Connect to a VPN
As stated earlier, this step is optional. Depending on what you want to do and your anonymity requirement, it’s up to you whether or not you want to use a VPN. Avoid free VPNs, they can’t be really trusted in most cases. We invite you to consult our selection of the best paid VPNs to get an idea of the platforms that offer the most interesting services and performances.
Launch Tor Browser
Now is the time to download and install a browser that allows access to the dark web. Forget about Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Edge and company, none of them are enabled. In our demonstration, it is with Tor Browser, the most famous solution, that we will go to the dark web.
Just go to the official Tor Project website from any other browser and click the “Download Tor Browser” button on the home page to start the download. You are first prompted to choose which operating system you want to install Tor for, with four options available: Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. It is also possible to download the alpha version of the software rather than the stable version, but prefer the latter to avoid possible bugs and performance issues.
Once the file has been downloaded, launch the installation of the browser as for any other application, and follow the steps displayed on the screen: choice of language, of the installation folder… and there you go. is played, you can now launch Tor.
When starting for the first time, you are prompted to connect directly or configure the platform. In most scenarios, logging in without going through configuration is sufficient. However, you must select “Configure” if you are connecting from a private network that requires a proxy or if you are in a country that censors Tor, such as China, Turkey or Egypt. You must then adjust the network settings manually.
Once connected, you access the Tor interface. If you are a Mozilla Firefox user, you shouldn’t be too disoriented, Tor is based on this one. By default, this is the DuckDuckGo search engine which is proposed, which works exactly like on other browsers: it is not what will allow you to go to the dark web.
Access the dark web
It is now time to consult the websites hidden in .onion, inaccessible other than by Tor. You have to type the full URL of the site to get there. If you do not know a URL address in .onion, you can go to a directory listing pages of the dark web. Here are some sites that may prove useful:
- The Hidden Web, one of the most famous, and which can be considered as the Wikipedia of dark web sites: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
- TorLinks : http://torlinksysgthcbz.onion/
- Welcome to Dark Web Links : http://bznjtqphs2lp4xdd.onion/
- Not Evil : http://hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion/
- Candle : http://gjobqjj7wyczbqie.onion/
You must of course open the above links from Tor. Do not be upset if the browser is a little slow, it is the price to pay to benefit from an encrypted and secure connection, which must make detours before arriving at your home. Regardless, you now have all the keys in hand to start exploring the dark web.
One final reminder: not all sites, services and files you can find on the dark web are legal, be careful what content you access. And as on the internet in general, beware of malware and do not download files that are not from a verified source.