How To Access The Dark Web
The Hidden Internet Unknown By Most People
Take a trip and a Deep Dive into the DARK WEB
The dark web is a part of the internet where you only step in with a specific tool. It hosts onion links that you cannot access with regular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari. For this, the Tor browser works best as it allows you to visit dark web sites while providing anonymity by routing your traffic through several nodes.
In most cases, the dark web is associated with illegal practices and activities. The media portrays it as a place where you can buy anything illegal from drugs, fake passports, weapons, etc.
While there might be an element of truth, these stories are often exaggerated and overhyped. On the contrary, you can get many good things that are not available on the surface web.
Grab a flashlight as you are about to go deep into the darker parts of the internet. This article lists some of the best dark web sites that you can visit securely. Some of these onion sites are very helpful, while others are just for fun.
Best .onion sites available on the dark web – Quick guide
- DuckDuckGo – The biggest search engine on the dark web that does not use trackers and collect your personal data.
- The Hidden Wiki – It is the version of Wikipedia with the biggest directory of onion links to help you explore the dark web.
- Daniel – Contain a wide range of onion links that are categorized to make it easier for you to navigate the dark web easily.
- ProPublica – Investigative journalism platform that publishes provoking pieces on a wide range of topics from finance, politics, etc.
- Sci-Hub – Allows you to access a collection of scientific papers by researchers and experts in various fields.
- Hidden Answers – This is a platform of the dark web where you can ask any question you like without getting censored.
- SearX – It is a search engine in the dark that allows you to search incredibly detailed queries.
- Facebook – This is a version of Facebook on the dark web developed to help people in repressive regimes access it.
- SecureDrop – Designed for whistleblowers to share information with journalists securely and anonymously.
- BBC Tor Mirror – A special BBC .onion site to offer access to its content in countries with heavy online censorship.
Top dark web websites 2021
It is possible to navigate the dark web even though it doesn’t host user-friendly search engines. Thankfully, some useful sites exist that can help you to circumnavigate the dark web landscape as you look for the best content.
Below I list some of them. You can choose the best darknet website that suits you and start surfing. However, remember you need to open these onion sites in the Tor browser to access the dark web.
DuckDuckGo is the most popular private search engine. Unlike other search engines, it does not collect or share personal data. Luckily, it is also available on the surface web.
This one is a great option if you want to surf the web anonymously. Even without monitoring your browsing activities, DuckDuckGo will offer decent answers to your questions.
You can also use it on the dark web as it has .onion links. It will offer you an additional layer of privacy and anonymity to access the deep parts of the internet.
- Direct link: https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/
2. The Hidden Wiki
The Hidden Wiki is a good way to start accessing the dark web. It is the dark web’s version of Wikipedia with a massive links directory. You will find all the necessary .onion links to access any content or service on the dark web.
However, you have to be careful with the links you click. Since Hidden Wiki maintains all kinds of websites, ensure you don’t open something you don’t want to see. For example, it has a reputation for hosting pedophile sites.
Moreover, due to its popularity, there are many copycats of the Hidden Wiki. Don’t be surprised if you encounter different versions that claim to be genuine. So, be very careful!
- Direct link: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
Daniel is another excellent way to explore the dark web. It hosts over 7000 .onion categorized links to make surfing the web easier for you.
One of Daniel’s impressive features is the in-built functionality that shows whether a particular dark web site is online or not.
That means you won’t need to open and load every listed link to confirm if it works. It is an excellent feature considering the Tor browser has longer loading times compared to the regular browsers.
- Direct link: http://danschat356lctri3zavzh6fbxg2a7lo6z3etgkctzzpspewu7zdsaqd.onion/
ProPublica is a popular online publication that won five Pulitzer in 2016. It aims to expose abuses of power and betrayal of public trust through investigative journalism.
The website is available on the surface web and has a .onion site. This means you can visit the site anonymously, especially if you live under an oppressive regime.
ProPublica covers all the controversial stories from corrupt politicians, child labor, etc., both in English and Spanish.
- Direct link: https://p53lf57qovyuvwsc6xnrppyply3vtqm7l6pcobkmyqsiofyeznfu5uqd.onion/
Sci-Hub is a massive database that eliminates the barriers to getting scientific knowledge. It contains millions of scientific research documents from around the world. The site seeks to liberate information by making it available to individuals and institutions for free.
It aims to advance research on terminal illnesses like cancer with access to all unbiased scientific publications.
However, the site has suffered outages in the past, so the site location might change frequently.
- Direct link: http://scihub22266oqcxt.onion/
6. Hidden Answers
This is the dark web’s version of Quora or Reddit. You can ask whatever you want without getting censored. It may look abandoned at first, but the members of the community will answer your questions.
However, that part of the internet is unfiltered, so that you might come across unpleasant conversations.
If you are new to the dark web, here is a great place to learn more about it. Visiting the links from specific questions may be a bit safe.
- Direct link: http://answerszuvs3gg2l64e6hmnryudl5zgrmwm3vh65hzszdghblddvfiqd.onion/
SearX is a metasearch engine that you can use both on the surface and dark web. It does not share IP addresses or search history to protect your privacy. In addition, it blocks tracking cookies to prevent user-profiling based results.
Your queries will be submitted through HTTPS POST to avoid keywords from appearing in the web server logs.
The best part is that you can search for detailed queries. It allows you to search for images, maps, files, videos, social media posts, and much more.
- Direct link: http://ulrn6sryqaifefld.onion/
8. Facebook onion site
Although Facebook is known for collecting every data on its platform, it does not like sharing the information with others. The social media giant is also aware of the many attempts by repressive regimes to restrict its access. After all, it enables users to connect and communicate with each other from around the world.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Facebook has a .onion portal. Unfortunately, it does not improve your privacy but only allows you to access the platform in restricted countries.
- Direct link: https://www.facebookcorewwwi.onion/
SecureDrop is a dark web link where whistleblowers can share information with journalists safely. The dark web offers an opportunity for whistleblowers to communicate with journalists without being tracked.
In most cases, whistleblowers have sensitive information about the government or company. They can be easily traced and even prosecuted if they share the information on the surface web. SecureDrop is the best onion site on the dark web that protects the privacy of journalists and whistleblowers.
Currently, SecureDrop’s .onion website is not available. However, many news organizations and publishers have set up their own SecureDrop URL to leverage anonymous whistleblowers’ power.
Some of the noteworthy examples include Forbes (http://t5pv5o4t6jyjilp6.onion/), Reuters (http://smb7p276iht3i2fj.onion/) and The Financial Times (http://xdm7flvwt3uvsrrd.onion/).
10. BBC Tor Mirror
In some countries, such as China and North Korea, the government uses heavy online censorship and blocks many sites. For example, the BBC website is not accessible in such countries. This is where the Tor comes in handy.
The BBC news website has a special .onion site, which you can access on the dark web. Its goal is to offer anonymous access to the content without being censored, no matter where you live. The good news is that the BBC onion site is an international edition. As a result, it does not focus only on the UK but news from all over the world.
- Direct link: http://bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion/
11. Tor Metrics
The Tor metrics is a good place to get more information about the Tor project. It collects data from the public Tor network and archives historical data of the Tor ecosystem.
This service is a good source of statistics if you have a school project requiring research on Tor and the dark web. However, note that the site only uses non-sensitive and public data for the metrics.
The goal of an anonymity and privacy network like Tor is not to engage in the extensive collection of data. However, data is required for understanding, monitoring, and improving the network. Furthermore, data will help to detect attacks against the network and possible censorship events.
- Direct link: http://rougmnvswfsmd4dq.onion/
ProtonMail is a Swiss-based email service that is very easy to use. It has end-to-end encryption to protect your conversations. In fact, you are not required to provide your personal information to create an account. The email service is available both on the surface and dark web.
Using the ProtonMail .onion site offers security and privacy advantages. Moreover, the company also uses HTTPS and SSL encryption on the onion site for extra protection. This makes it even harder for third parties to see your email traffic.
- Direct link: https://protonirockerxow.onion/
RiseUp is a top dark web website that offers secure emailing services and a chat option. It was created in 1999 as a secure communication platform for people and groups working on liberatory social change. The platform is protected from government interference and malicious attacks to protect the user. In addition, it ensures no record of communication is stored.
Unfortunately, it requires you to have an invitation code to create an account. This means you have to know someone who is already using the platform. Even without the code, you can visit the security section to get tips on how to improve your daily life privacy.
- Direct link: http://nzh3fv6jc6jskki3.onion/
SecMail is one of the most popular email services on the dark web. The downside is that it limits data to only 25mbps per user. While this is not much compared to standard email services, it is enough for PGP-encrypted messages.
- Direct link: http://secmailw453j7piv.onion/
Formerly known as Archive.is, it is one of the best onion sites on the dark web. It aims to preserve the internet’s scientific and cultural heritage.
Established in 2012, the platform acts as a time capsule for websites by collecting web pages’ snapshots. These sites will remain online even if the original page disappears. It also keeps the graphical copy and text of the page for better accuracy.
This is the best place to get short and reliable links to an unalterable record of any webpage.
- Direct link: http://archivecaslytosk.onion/
Mailpile is a secure email service that aims to keep your emails completely private.
Despite encrypting your emails, it allows you to store your email safely without sharing them in the cloud. Another significant advantage of Mailpile is that its code is open source. This means anyone can access it, which helps to detect vulnerabilities before malicious actors take advantage.
The Mailpile .onion site can download information anonymously from any server or web service like Gravatar. It can also send or download emails without getting classified as spam or exit nodes spying on sensitive data.
- Direct link: http://clgs64523yi2bkhz.onion/
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have been the dark web currency even before they became available to the general public. Right now, there is a myriad of cryptocurrency .onion sites you can use to buy or sell all types of cryptocurrencies.
BlockChain was one of the first sites to launch on the dark web. It even has an HTTP security certificate for even better protection. The site was created to provide additional security and eliminate cryptocurrency theft.
- Direct link: blockchainbdgpzk.onion
ZeroBin is a wonderful way to share the content you find on the dark web. It is a reliable messaging tool where you copy/paste a text or image and send it to your addressee.
The good news is that even the platform will not see what you copy/paste. This is because your data is encrypted in the Tor browser before reaching the ZeroBin servers.
Also, you can set a strong password to protect your message and even choose how long it will take to expire. So, this is a secure and anonymous communication tool.
- Direct link: http://zerobinqmdqd236y.onion/
19. Wasabi Wallet
Wasabi is one of the most popular cryptocurrency wallets on the dark web.
It has a feature known as CoinJoin that combines multiple coins from different users into a single transaction. This makes it extremely difficult to find out who you are transacting with.
Another notable security trick Wasabi uses to verify transactions is the Neutrino protocol. It assigns a task to the client instead of the server, eliminating any server-related vulnerability.
- Direct link: http://wasabiukrxmkdgve5kynjztuovbg43uxcbcxn6y2okcrsg7gb6jdmbad.onion
20. Imperial library
The Imperial library is a dark website with a wide range of digital books. Here you can get almost any publication you want.
At the moment, it has over 500,000 books in its library. However, you should be careful to avoid copyright infringement.
- Direct link: http://xfmro77i3lixucja.onion/
21. Comic Book Library
If you love comics, this is the right place to be. The .onion site has thousands of downloadable comic books ranging from niche titles to mainstream ones. Just like with the Imperial Library, you should be aware of copyright infringement.
- Direct link: http://r6rfy5zlifbsiiym.onion/
This .onion site is a bit different from the others reviewed above.
It contains a link that shows the exploits of explorers who go into big American universities’ tunnel systems.
However, accessing these tunnels is illegal and dangerous. That is why the explorers post their content on the dark web rather than the surface web.
- Direct link: http://62gs2n5ydnyffzfy.onion/
23. Deep web radio
If you want some good music while navigating the dark web, look no further. The Deep web radio is a digital station with a wide variety of music. In fact, there are over twenty channels with different music genres.
- Direct link: http://76qugh5bey5gum7l.onion/
Keybase is a fantastic onion site that allows you to bring your different online identities together cryptographically.
All you need to do is to upload your PGP key or let the platform create one for you. Use it to link your Github account, Twitter, Bitcoin address, and Facebook together. This .onion link makes it impossible for hackers to impersonate your profile.
- Direct link: http://fncuwbiisyh6ak3i.onion/
25. The C.I.A
The US Navy’s main reason to create Tor was to help informants relay information safely over the internet. In the same spirit, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established an .onion site to help people access its resources worldwide anonymously and securely.
- Direct link: http://ciadotgov4sjwlzihbbgxnqg3xiyrg7so2r2o3lt5wz5ypk4sxyjstad.onion/
What is a dark web, and how does it work?
The dark web is part of the internet not indexed by standard search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and Bing. You cannot access it with regular browsers like Firefox or Chrome. Instead, you need a specific configuration, software, or authorization to access it.
Basically, the internet comprises three parts: surface web, deep web, and dark web.
The surface web is the smallest part of the internet. It is easily accessible by the general public and does not require any special configuration. You can access it with regular web browsers and search engines. This is where you find sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, e-commerce sites, YouTube, and more.
Whereas the deep web is a portion of the internet not searchable by regular search engines. Most content here is password-protected. Also, you must log in or have a specific IP address or URL to access the deep web content.
Some sites on the deep web do not use standard top-level domains (TLD) such as .gov, .com, .net, etc. As a result, you cannot find them with a regular search engine. Other sites explicitly block search engines from identifying them.
Lastly, the dark web is the subset of the deep web inaccessible generally. It relies on P2P connections and requires specialized tools and software. Tor and I2P are the two commonly used tools for accessing the dark web to provide anonymity.
An easy way to find content on the dark web is to receive a link from a person who already knows about it.
The dark web is known for communicating about or selling illegal items such as weapons, drugs, stolen data, malware, etc. However, you can find legitimate content and activities here too. For example, you can find information not available to the public and share data privately whilst protecting your online identity.
How to access the dark web
Initially, the dark web was mainly used by government agencies, big businesses, hackers, and cybercriminals. However, technological advancements such as encryption and the Tor browser enabled the general public to access it.
The US Naval Research Laboratory developed The Onion Routing (Tor) project in the late 90s. It is a network browser that gives you access to sites with the ‘.onion’ registry operator.
Since the internet is open to everyone, there is no privacy. The early version of Tor was created to mask spy communications. In due course, the framework was remodeled and made public as a secure browser.
Think of Tor as a regular browser like Firefox, Google, or Safari. The only difference is that it passes your traffic through random nodes before reaching the destination. This means your activities cannot be traced or your browser history exposed.
The legality of accessing the dark web
Simply put, it is perfectly legal to access and browse the dark web. In fact, you can reap several benefits from it. For example, it maintains your privacy and enables you to access untraceable content and services.
Due to its anonymity, the dark web has attracted people who could endanger their lives by revealing their identities on the surface web. They include whistleblowers, abuse and persecution victims, activists, and politicians. At the same time, it is a breeding ground for malicious actors who want to do illegal activities.
Therefore, the legality of the dark web will mainly depend on how you use it. You can easily get into trouble for acting in illegal ways, such as infringing on other people’s safety and freedom.
Is using the Tor network illegal?
It is legal to use anonymized browsers like Tor and I2P. In fact, they are not exclusively meant for the dark web alone. Nowadays, many people use the Tor browser to surf the public internet and navigate the deeper parts anonymously.
With rising online privacy concerns in the current digital age, the Tor network’s anonymity is becoming essential. It is a good way to prevent third parties from tracking your online activities. People in countries with heavy internet censorship will need a Tor Browser or VPN to even access the surface web.
Remember that there are illegal activities that can still incriminate you whether you are using a Tor browser or not. For example, you shouldn’t pirate copyrighted material, engage in terrorism or share illegal pornography. Using an anonymized browser does not make these actions right.
Is it illegal to visit and use dark web sites?
Accessing .onion sites is a bit controversial. The use of the dark web raises suspicion as it shows there is something you want to do privately.
Activists and government critics prefer to remain anonymous, fearing repercussions if their identities are revealed. Besides, victims of crime may want to hide their identities from their perpetrators. Nonetheless, if whatever you do is deemed illegal in your country, then you can get into trouble.
Tor anonymity comes with a cost since malicious hackers, and criminals like to operate in the shadows. For example, perpetrators of trafficking and cyber attacks use the dark web to disguise their actions.
All in all, surfing on the dark web is not illegal, but it can be an issue for you. If you don’t take the necessary measures, it has many unsavory activities that can expose you to unnecessary risks.
Types of threats associated with the dark web
Is the dark web safe to use? Remember that the dark web can be dangerous if you were only considering using it for basic privacy purposes. Here are some of the common threats of using the dark web.
Many services that are allegedly offered on the dark web are scams. Some of the services are genuine, and you can get what you want at an agreed fee.
Unfortunately, others take advantage of the dark web’s reputation to con people. Moreover, malicious actors can attempt phishing scams to steal your data and identity for extortion.
Government authorities across the globe are taking over many Tor-based sites. In fact, there are growing concerns about law enforcement monitoring what is happening on the dark web. For example, the Silk Road site operator, an illegal marketplace on the dark web, was traced and arrested.
Law enforcers can use custom software to infiltrate the dark web and analyze activities. Even if you are not doing anything illegal, you could be monitored closely.
In some countries, it is a punishable offense to evade government restrictions to seek new political ideologies. For example, China uses the Great Firewall to block access to many western sites. You can be placed on a watch list or targeted for imprisonment for accessing blocked content.
The dark web is a hub for all types of malware. Many dark web sites offer malware as a tool for cyberattacks. Since malware lingers across the dark web, your device can easily become infected even if you are an unsuspecting user.
Many .onion sites do not undertake the necessary measures to protect users like most websites on the surface web. As a result, you can be exposed to different malware types, including botnet, ransomware, keyloggers, and phishing malware.
You risk being targeted for attacks if you explore dark net sites without any protection. The threat can extend to your entire network of devices connected to the internet.
While Tor offers anonymity on the dark web, your online activities leave breadcrumbs that can reveal your identity. That is why you should only use a reliable VPN like NordVPN for additional security and privacy. You can also check out this ultimate dark web safety guide to browse safely.
Tips to stay safe when using the dark web
If you really want to access the dark web, you want to make sure you do it safely. Here are some useful tips you can use.
Separate your real life from your online persona
You should never use the personal information you use on the dark web anywhere else in your life. In fact, create new throwaway accounts and documents if possible. Make sure you have used prepaid and unidentifiable credit cards when making purchases on the dark web. Avoid using payment methods that can easily expose your identity.
Trust your instinct
It is imperative to stay alert and trust your guts when on the web. Do not trust anyone as most of them aren’t who they claim to be.
Furthermore, you should watch out for the dark web links you visit and the content you access. Don’t open any site if something does not feel right.
Use active monitoring of financial and identity theft
Nowadays, there are many online services that offer identity protection. If you get a reliable vendor, you should procure the services to stay safe when accessing the dark web.
Disable Java and ActiveX in your network settings
ActiveX and Java frameworks are susceptible to being exploited by hackers. Since you are navigating in uncharted territories with all myriads of threats, you’ll have to disable them in your network settings to stay safe.
Avoid downloading dark web files
Malware infections are considerably high in the dark web since it is uncontrolled. As a result, you should avoid opening dark web links unnecessary and downloading every file you come across.
Also, use an effective antivirus program to check threats if you decide to download files. You can check out this guide on the best antivirus software applications for 2021.
Use a secondary non-admin account
Most likely, the native account on your device has full admin permissions by default. Many malware take advantage of this vulnerability to launch an attack. Therefore, you can prevent this kind of exploitation by setting up a non-admin account.
How to access .onion sites safely
The Tor browser allows you to browse the internet anonymously and visit inaccessible sites. It will encrypt your traffic and data so no one can intercept.
However, third parties such as the government and your internet service provider (ISP) can see you are using a Tor. Although the browser can be used legitimately, it is often associated with illegal activities. This can raise red flags, and in some countries, ISPs block Tor connections completely.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a good way to mask your Tor activities. It will add an extra encryption layer and pass your traffic through a secondary server of your choice. This will prevent anybody from seeing that you are using Tor.
A quick guide on how to use a VPN with Tor
- Choose a well-established VPN provider. I recommend NordVPN because of its blazing-fast speeds, watertight security, and massive server network.
- Download and install the VPN app on your device or router.
- Run the app and connect to any preferred server.
- Start browsing onion sites safely and anonymously.
Best VPNs for dark web sites
Wondering what is the best VPN to use with Tor for accessing onion sites on the dark web? To make it easier for you, I tested over 20 VPN services based on the following criteria:
- Compatibility with the Tor network
- Robust security and privacy measures
- Zero-logs policy
- Anonymous payment methods
- Fast speeds
How To Access The Dark Web
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