Deep Web

How to Access the Dark Web Safely in 2020

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How to Access the Dark Web

The internet is much bigger than you realize. You know about Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Google, and similar websites that you can access with your standard web browsers, but there is also a significant part of the internet – called the dark web – that you can only access using special software.

In this article, you will learn how to access the dark web safely and discover the do and don’ts of surfing the “hidden internet.”

How to Access the Dark Web

Accessing the dark web is actually a lot easier than you may think. It just involves downloading a dark web browser, such as the Tor browser.

However, navigating the dark web is often a chaotic process because sites are not arranged as we have on the surface. Also, most users are anonymous, and it is often used to defraud naive users.

To get on the dark web:

  • Download Tor or any other anonymous browser that can access .onion sites.
  • Start the Tor browser. It works like a regular browser; if you know what you are looking for, just put in a URL, and you will have access to the Onion website.
  • If you do not know where to visit because it is your first time, you can use a search engine that crawls the dark web; an example is the privacy-focused search engine, DuckDuckGo. It is one of the most commonly used search engines on the Tor network. Also, you can find a list of sites to visit on Uncensored Hidden Wiki.

Tips for Navigating the Darknet

how to get on the dark web

Use a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic

Using Tor is not a guarantee that your traffic cannot be tracked. The Tor browser provides some safety by routing your web page requests via a series of proxy servers, hiding your IP address and making your connection untraceable. But, while Tor serves to mask your identity, there are still vulnerabilities to the network. Using a VPN and Tor provides an extra layer of security and helps to reduce some drawbacks of using either technology only.

Steps to use VPN with Tor:

  1. Sign up with a VPN service provider 
  2. Download and install the VPN application
  3. Run the app and select a VPN server
  4. Connect to one of the servers
  5. Open the Tor Browser and browse the dark web

Never use your credit or debit cards for a purchase

Using credit or debit cards for payment for transactions on the darknet is like inviting a thief to your house and yelling ”come and have my money.” You should be skeptical of any website and dark web store that is asking for your state security number or credit/debit card details.

Lots of people know this too, which is why cryptocurrencies are widely used on the dark web. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin allow you to pay for goods without giving out personal details about yourself. With bitcoin, you are partly anonymous, but with so-called “privacy coins” like Monero, you have better privacy and anonymity.

Use a reputable antivirus software

If you browse the dark web and end up downloading software or pictures, you run the risk of having malware on your PC. It is advisable to ensure your device has trusted security software that is up to date.

Having a good antivirus is one of the toolkits that would help you stay safe when surfing the darknet.

Do not share personal information

One of the best ways to stay safe on the dark web is to ensure you give out no personal information. Moreover, do not send or upload your picture on a site you just visited.

It is best practice not to share any personal information whatsoever when surfing the dark web.

Be careful what you click on

If you click on any links, you may be taken to things you might not want to see. Other than using trusted dark web directory listings, it is strongly advised that not to click on random links.

Even on a dark web directory, pay attention to the URLs. Sites often change their URLs, which means you have to be extra careful to ensure the link is still for the site you intend to visit. It is possible that clicking a link could turn out really bad, like downloading malware or unwittingly accessing illegal content.

Top 7 Creepiest Dark Web and Deep Web Stories

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Deep Web Stories

The dark web is known for some of the most bizarre finds on the internet. In this article, we will highlight some of the craziest and creepiest dark web and deep web stories that have ever emerged from this hidden part of the world wide web.

Cannibalism – Human Meet Cooking and Selling

As crazy as it sounds, there are people interested in eating human meat. There are also restaurants that cook and sell human meat.

These restaurants will obviously not have their information roaming on the open parts of the internet. Instead, human meat food joints have their locations listed on the dark web.

This dark web story is one that makes you wonder if everything you have seen in the movies is real. Until now cannibalism was attributed to very few remote tribes.

To find out that people are looking for cooked human meat is one of the weirdest deep web stories ever.

Bugchasers (STD Spreaders)

Have you ever heard of people openly claim that they are interested in spreading STDs? There are dark web stories surrounding such people. 

These people are called “bugchasers“. There are several darknet websites that support the idea of spreading STDs. The darknet ensures that these like-minded people get to interact with each other.

HIV, Chlamydia, and Syphilis are the most common STDs among bugchasers who boast about spreading these diseases. For instance, a group of men was injected with HIV positive blood as a way to reach climax during a sex party in 2007.

A lot of dark web forums with scary deep web stories that include numerous accounts of people spreading STDs intentionally.

CreepyPasta Comic

One of the most troubling dark web stories is the CreepyPasta Comic. You might have heard of digital paranormal activity. Thought of it as a myth, this story could change your perception of it.

CreepyPasta Comic is a Korean comic that starts like a normal scary story that gets creepy the more you read it. The author of the deep web comic book designed the website in a way that leads to paranormal activity.

According to people who have read this book, as you move through the pages, a ghost takes control of your mouse. Other paranormal activities have also been experienced by readers of the book.

Bad Self Eater

The end of time is a very popular theme in society. In this dark web story, a social experiment based on the apocalypse goes wrong. 

Bad Self Eater began in 2016 by a man who physically started dropping fake currency notes with fearful things printed on them. These fearful things seemed very real as it fed into conspiracy theories like the Illuminati, end of the world stuff, apocalyptic symbols, and hidden messages.

These notes spread all over with people actively tiring had to get their hands on them sparking more controversy, theories, and meanings. 

All these notes had the “barselfeater.com” URL in common. Upon visiting the site, visitors will be greeted with scary music and a countdown.

Rumors began to spread that the countdown was hinting the apocalypse and the end of the world. The countdown finally ended and none of the expected outcomes happened. Instead, a video appeared on the site of a man educating people on problems related to abortions.

Mariana’s Web

This is one of the most uncertain dark web stories out there. Mariana Web is a supposed hidden site with information on secrets about the earth.

The site is named after Mariana’s Trench, the deepest point on earth because Mariana’s web is buried very deep even on the deep web. It is believed that this site exists even though there is very little evidence to show that.

The site is reported to contain information about communication with other life forms, the location Atlantis, and a subset of the internet used extra-terrestrial beings to monitor us.

Human Experiment

Conducting an experiment on human beings is wrong by all standards. Yet, there are dark web stories that include such activity.

Human experiments have been conducted by some of the most sadistic people to walk this planet. Adolf Hitler, for example, had an entire department for experimenting on human beings.

Some people on the dark web can also be mentioned in the same conversation as Hitler as they seek to do exactly the same.

There are supposedly many websites on the darknet that invite people to participate in human experimentation. These disturbing ads target orphans and kidnapped people.

As crazy as it may sound these sites exist. Fortunately, however, many of these sites have been taken down by the authorities.

Anonymous $255,000 Job

Some deep web stories have very few incentives to attract people but this particular one promises people $255,000.

Aside from the fact that being a job listing on the dark web makes this a scary offer, the job description is extremely ambiguous offering only the points listed below as what is needed for the job.

  • Combat experience
  • 6 months on a ship
  • No communication with the outside world
  • $255k is the total payment for 6 months

A quarter of a million is a lot of money. Yet, the job description and situations surrounding the job listing makes it sound very dangerous.

From the deep web stories above it is very obvious that the dark web is not a safe place. You should be very careful when you access the dark web. You don’t want to become part of such horror stories.

Best Dark Web Websites You Can Legally Access in 2020

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Dark Web Websites

The dark web is mostly conceived as being a hotbed for criminal and immoral activities. While the deep web is comprised of mostly legal material such as encrypted chat records, bank records, emails, etc. the darker content exists within layered proxy networks known as darknets. However, not all dark websites found on the darknet are illegal or provide unethical services.

In this guide, you will discover a list of the best dark websites you can legally access in 2020.

Best Legal Dark Web Websites

Not Evil

Not Evil is a search engine that indexes legal deep web sites. The non-profit search engine stands out from its dark web counterparts since it does not accept any donations, and strives to list only legal sites.

http://hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion/

CoinPayments

CoinPayments is a leading digital currency payment processor that provides an integrated payment gateway for major cryptos like bitcoin (BTC) and LTC (litecoin).

In addition, the site supports over 1400 altcoins which can be stored in the site’s multi-coin wallet. CoinPayments claims to have served over 2.4 million vendors across 182 countries. The site has a number of innovative features including GAP 600 instant confirmations, fiat settlements, auto coin conversion and many more.

https://coinpaymtstgtibr.onion/

OnionName

OnionName allows you to choose your own domain prefix, purchase the .onion domain, and generate an 8 letter prefix for a few bitcoins.

You can purchase any of the listed packages, which have delivery timelines ranging from an hour and up to a week.

http://onionname3jpufot.onion/

Keybase

Keybase is an open-source and secure platform that allows you to manage several online identities. The security app utilizes public-key cryptography to link your Twitter account, Github account or bitcoin addresses to your PGP key.

Keybase is available for download on mobile, can be accessed through the web and through its onion website.

http://fncuwbiisyh6ak3i.onion/

XMR.TO

XMR.to is a cryptocurrency payment service that allows you to make bitcoin payments through the site using XMR. The service allows you to send your XMR coins to bitcoin addresses with the site being responsible for the XMR/BTC conversion.

The user will pay an ‘indicative rate’ with the taking anywhere up to two minutes to be executed. Furthermore, provides an open API that can be integrated into crypto wallets, as is already the case with Monerujo and Cake Wallet.

http://xmrto2bturnore26.onion/

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a high speed, anonymous, and secure VPN. The VPN allows users to beat content restrictions and censorship by hiding their IP addresses and encrypting their network data from outside external parties.

ExpressVPN is available on subscription on Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android and many more.

http://expressobutiolem.onion/

Protonmail

Protonmail is a Switzerland-based encrypted email service that incorporates open-source cryptography, end-to-end encryption, and other unique security features.

The platform aims to serve privacy-focused users who prefer anonymous messaging services that are protected against infiltration by external parties.

https://protonirockerxow.onion/

We Fight Censorship

We Fight Censorship is a borderless project that aims to fight censorship by promoting the free flow of news and information. The site is used to publish content that has been censored, banned, or where reprisals have been carried out against the author.

The site has a secure “digital safe” which protects the anonymity of contributors when transmitting files to the site.

http://3kyl4i7bfdgwelmf.onion/

ProPublica

ProPublica is a non-profit, independent news publication that aims to hold those in power accountable and by uncovering malpractices by public officials, institutions through investigative journalism.

The platform is financed through donations and is able to provide transparent accounting to its backers. The recipient of many Pultizer awards, ProPublica has its own .onion suffix as a sign of its fight for online freedom and free speech.

https://www.propub3r6espa33w.onion/

WikiLeaks Upload

WikiLeaks Upload is a platform that publishes secret content, news leaks and classified data that is provided by anonymous sources.

http://wlupld3ptjvsgwqw.onion/wlupload.en.html

SecureDrop

SecureDrop is an open-source, whistleblower software that enables media stations and NGOs to securely receive documents from anonymous sources.

The system sits within the organization’s servers with data being encrypted when in transit. In addition, the platform does not log your browser, IP address or computer.

http://secrdrop5wyphb5x.onion/

DeepWeb Radio

DeepWeb Radio is a non-profit anonymous radio service that enables you to any genre of music produced by artists on the dark web.

Furthermore, you can access any number of free radio streams through the TOR or I2P addresses.

http://76qugh5bey5gum7l.onion/

Best Dark Web, Darknet and Deep Web Books in 2020

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dark web books

We have compiled a list of the top ten dark web books that you can read to learn more about what the dark web, the darknet and the deep web in 2020.

Top 10 Best Dark Web Books

Silk Road

darknet books

Silk Road by investigative journalist Eileen Ormsby provides detailed insight into the happenings of the pioneering marketplace on the dark web, called Silk Road. Ormsby narrates the rise, success, and fall of Silk Road founded by Ross Ulbricht.

Ormsby’s book is a thorough examination of the dark web and an excellent read for people interested in understanding darknet drug markets. 

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 4.08

Tor Browser: Secrets of the Deep Web, How to Stay Anonymous Online, and Surf the Web Like a Hacker

Tor Browser: Secrets of the Deep Web, How to Stay Anonymous Online, and Surf the Web Like a Hacker by Cooper Alvin is a guide to surfing the internet anonymously.

It is a short book with just 48 pages, written for beginners to learn about computer basics and protocols, general online safety, the Tor browser, and the deep web. The author promises that after reading the book, you will be able to recognise when you are been tracked online and know how to navigate the web like a hacker.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.86

Hacking & Tor: The Complete Beginners Guide To Hacking, Tor, & Accessing The Deep Web & Dark Web

deep web books

Hacking & Tor: The Complete Beginners Guide To Hacking, Tor, & Accessing The Deep Web & Dark Web by Jack Jones is a beginner’s guide to hacking and the Tor network. 

In his book, Jones focuses on tools and techniques used on the Tor network. It also exposes readers to how hacking works and promises to help readers grow from a hacking novice to a hacking expert within a short period.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.8

DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You

dark web book

DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You by Misha Glenny talks about the three fundamental themes he believes are the major threats facing us in the twenty-first century: cybercrime, cyber industrial espionage, and cyberwarfare.

The book explores the rise and fall of the criminal website, DarkMarket. It narrates the story of cybercriminals who operate under pseudonyms, including cops playing criminals in an attempt to arrest the bad actors. 

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.78

The Deep Dark Web: The Hidden World

The Deep Dark Web: The Hidden World was authored by Richard Gatomalo Amores and Peirluigi Paganini to explain the inner workings of the dark web.

The book provides insight into cybercrime, hacktivism, cyber warfare and other subcultures associated with the darknet. The book is useful for getting an overview of the dark web and the main players in the space.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.7

Darknet: A Beginner’s Guide to Staying Anonymous

Darknet: A Beginner’s Guide to Staying Anonymous is a book written by Lance Henderson, which introduces beginners to dark web tools like Tor, Freenet, and Tails. 

The book explains the differences between privacy and anonymity, and discusses various privacy tools and services. The author also provides a general safety guide and highlights precautions to take when on the dark web.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.7

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld is a non-fiction book authored by Jamie Bartlett. Bartlett gives a detailed report of online communities on the Dark Web. He gives us a peep into the underground and emergent cultures of the darknet, including drug markets, trolls, pornographers, hackers, political extremists, crypto-anarchists and transhumanists.

He also explains why the dark web has been growing and elaborates on the conflicts that defined its early years. This book is good to read if you want to know the history of the darknet and its subcultures.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.66

Cybercrime and the Darknet: Revealing the Hidden Underworld of the Internet

Cybercrime and the Darknet by Cath Senker is broken down into two parts: cybercrime and the darknet. It covers the world of hackers and cybersecurity professionals; and touches on the brighter side of the darknet. 

This darknet book touches on many websites, topics and events like Wikileaks, cyberbullying, copyright issues, bitcoin, terrorism, hacktivism, and many more. It is a good introduction to cybercrimes on the darknet and the ways governments are trying to clean it up.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.63

Tor and the Dark Art of Anonymity: How to Be Invisible from NSA Spying

Tor and the Dark Art of Anonymity is a technical book written by Lance Henderson, a computer security analyst. It does a deep dive into using Tor services and browsing the dark web. 

Some of the topics discussed in the book include explaining Tor hidden servers, the differences between using Windows and Linux operating systems, using cryptocurrency on the dark web, and how to activate supercookies and encryption.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.31

The Dark Net

The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy is an imaginative techno-thriller. The book is not a hacker story but a paranormal novel that adopts technology, the dark web, to tell a horrific tale. 

The book is based on the premise of “What if demons took over our computers?” The author then goes on to weave together a plot that shows the real dangers we face – like drugs and weapons bought and sold on the dark web – and those beyond comprehension like demons using that part of the web to attack the world. Benjamin Percy shows all these through the eyes of fictional characters. If you love horror, this book would be a good read.

GoodReads.com Reader’s Rating: 3.2

If you want to learn the basics about the “hidden internet”, check out our popular guide “What is the Dark Web, Darknet and Deep Web?

VICE Motherboard: ‘Buying Guns and Drugs on the Deep Web’ Documentary

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In this documentary, VICE Motherboard shows how shockingly easy it is to buy drugs, guns, and other contraband on the deep web.

The 20-minute long documentary highlights how dark web marketplaces function and how anyone with an Internet connection can easily gain access to almost anything on the deep web.

Buying firearms or illegal narcotics on dark web marketplaces are almost as easy to order online as purchasing a book on Amazon, which is one of the reasons why the term ‘dark web’ has become synonymous with crime.

What Are the Dark Web, Darknet, and Deep Web?

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what is the dark web

The internet is enormous, yet a large part of it remains untouched by most web users. This vast and often overlooked portion of the web is referred to by the names such as the dark web, darknet, and deep web. These terms are used to describe parts of the internet that cannot be accessible to users with standard web browsers.

In this guide, you will find a detailed answer to the question: “What is the dark web, the darknet, and the deep web.”

What is the Deep Web?

what is the deep web

The deep web can simply be described as any web page that is not indexed by a traditional search engine such as Google.

A useful analogy to describe the deep web would be the exploration of the world’s oceans. Humans have over the years built machines like submarines to enable us to explore the vast expanse of the world’s oceans. While we have succeeded in discovering new things in our oceans, we have only managed to scratch the surface. A majority of our oceans cannot be accessed by submarines or people unless specialized hardware is used and the conditions are right.

For many individuals, their web activity is limited to about twenty to fifty websites, with most of it being Google-related sites and services. Similar to the explorer submarines, the search engines scour the internet and display what they find to users.

However, there are servers and sites that standard search engines like Google and Bing are unable to access. This hidden part of the web is known as the deep web.

Experts estimate that the deep web is a hundred times larger than the surface web.

The deep web comprises of mostly legal content that is not listed on search engines and requires special permissions to access such as bank records, password protected pages, encrypted chat records, email correspondence, paid streaming services, and many more.

It is important to note, there are parts of the deep web that you can access through inventive online searches. Also, some sites may opt not to be included in a search engine’s listing, but if you are aware of their IP address or direct URL, you can still access them.

What is the Darknet?

what is the darknet

The darknet is an encrypted network built over the internet which requires specific software and tools to access the network. Rarely do conventional protocols used in the internet work on the darknet.

The darknet provides privacy to its users. An example of a darknet is Tor or sometimes referred to as the ‘Onion router’. To access a darknet you need a special type of darknet browser, such as Tor.

Tor utilizes the hidden service protocol to enter everyday internet websites, but also access many hidden sites that cannot be accessed via conventional browsers. Each site limited to the Tor network has an identifiable .onion address, and thus the Tor network is also known as Onionland.

Another type of darknet is a friend to friend (F2F) network. In this scenario, two people who are familiar communicate directly over the internet. These type of darknet can facilitate the sharing of files via the peer-to-peer (P2P) network. The network can be encrypted and only accessible by the concerned parties.  

What is the Dark Web?

what is the dark web

The dark web is a subset of the deep web. To decipher the dark web you need to understand the distinction between the deep web and darknet, and how these correlate to the regular internet, which in itself is different from the World Wide Web (www).

While the deep web is a part of the World Wide Web that cannot be accessed by search engines, and with darknets being encrypted networks, the dark web can be compared to a World Wide Web of darknets like Freenet, Tor, etc. Essentially, sites and services running on the darknet constitute the dark web.

Scope of the Dark Web

The dark web is often referred to as the seedy underbelly of the internet, with shady dealings and criminal activity running unchecked. According to research by Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid of King’s College in London, up to fifty-seven percent of dark websites sampled in a five-week period, host illicit material.

The reality is that you can purchase a host of illegal items and services on the dark web since it is mostly uncensored. For instance, you can obtain credit card information, stolen subscriptions, drugs, counterfeit products, and hacking software, just to name a few.

You can even buy credentials for a bank account containing thousands of dollars for only a few hundred dollars. You can obtain usernames and passwords to loaded debit cards, Netflix accounts and even buy counterfeit dollar bills.

However, despite the illegal activity on the dark web, there are also a number of legitimate sites and services.

The dark web has become a haven for journalists and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, or even activists protesting against authoritarian regimes.

How Do I Access the Dark Web?

With all the described activities in the dark web, you can easily mistake it for a bustling marketplace, that is easy to navigate. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Navigating the dark web is a messy and chaotic process, which can be attributed to the fact that participants are mostly anonymous and dubious services being offered.

To visit the dark web you need to install a specialized browser that anonymizes your network connections, such as Tor or I2P. The Tor browsers allow you to route your web page requests via a series of proxy servers, hiding your IP address and making your connection untraceable. However, while Tor serves to mask your identity, using it to access the dark web can be slow, unpredictable and at times unreliable.

Search Engines on the Dark Web

Searching the dark web is reminiscent to navigating the internet in the mid-90s.

While dark web search engines exist, the dark web landscape is constantly evolving making it hard for these engines to index sites and services. Search engines like Not Evil, often return results that are repetitive and unrelated to the query.

Nature of Dark Web Websites

As referenced earlier, dark websites have a different naming structure to those of regular sites. While regular sites end with .com or .co, dark websites end with .onion. The special suffix designates an anonymous hidden service, accessible through the Tor network. Only dark web browsers with the appropriate proxy can reach these sites.

Dark web website
Example of a dark web websites: SoylentNews

Moreover, dark web websites use a scrambled naming structure that produces URLs that are almost impossible to recall. Consequently, coming across an unintelligible address such as ‘eajwlvm3z2lcca76.onion’ is normal.

It is important to remember, most dark websites are fronts for scammers who are always on the move to avoid retribution from their victims. Therefore, sites shutting down after a year or so, after fleecing users is common.

In addition, law enforcement agencies have become adept at tracking and prosecuting owners of illegal dark web websites dealing in illicit goods and services.

In May 2019, German police shut down one of the largest dark websites, accused of facilitating the sale of drugs, contraband, stolen data, and malicious software. Still, even with the extra scrutiny from law enforcement, some owners still manage to migrate to new addresses, and therefore users may expect to wake up and find a site has shut down only to reappear days later elsewhere.

Commerce on the Dark Web

bitcoin

Commerce on the dark web has flourished since the rise of digital currencies. The cryptocurrency bitcoin has been instrumental in the growth of dark web marketplaces as it enables pseudonymous decentralized peer-to-peer payments.

However, bitcoin’s pseudonymity and the inherent number of bad actors in the dark web makes it hard to foster a semblance of trust when transacting in the place. Hence, even if you intend to purchase legal items, there is a good chance that you will lose your funds or that you will not receive your purchased goods.

Enforcing any type of quality control such as ratings, reviews; in retail sites is difficult when both buyers and sellers are anonymous. The credibility of any rating system is dubious and can be easily manipulated. Cases of sellers with long track records of delivery, suddenly disappearing with their customers’ digital coins only to resurface under a different identity, are numerous.

Some e-commerce sites have in-built escrows to hold customer funds until there is confirmation of product delivery. However, in case of a dispute do not expect some third-party arbitration. Instead, transacting parties will have to sort it out among themselves. All communication is encrypted, and thus you need a PGP key for the simplest transactions.

Having said that, more and more legitimate websites are starting to have a presence on the dark web. The dark web has practical value for activists, whistleblowers, and journalists who need to communicate in a secure, encrypted manner to avoid potential persecution.

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