TOR, Dark Web, Deep Web. You may have come across these terms several time while surfing the Internet or reading the news. What is the Dark Web? Are the Deep Web and the Dark Web the same ting? How to use TOR? In this post we give an answer to these and other questions about the Deep (Dark Web).
World Wide Web Size, a site that is credited with developing a statistical method for tracking the number of web pages indexed by the popular search engines, estimates the indexed web to contain at least 4.5 billion pages by 4/28/2017.
Internet Live Stats, the international Real Time Statistics Projects website estimates the number of websites to be slightly above 1.18 billion on the same date. If you think the figures are huge, then, you are in for a big shock as that constitutes only a bare fraction of the World Wide Web.
WEB PAGES INDEXED BY GOOGLE, YAHOO,BING, OR OTHER SEARCH ENGINES ARE ONLY A TINY FRACTION OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB
The Deep Web that exists beneath the surface and cannot be indexed by conventional search engines contains five hundred times more content than the surface web.
This guide will explain in detail the Dark Web and how it differs from the Deep Web and also walk you through the requisite steps of how to access the Dark Web safely.
What Is The Deep Web?
The Deep Web or Hidden web is that part of the worldwide web that cannot be indexed by the traditional search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Distinguishing The Deep Web From The Dark Web
While the Deep Web refers to websites not indexed by traditional search engines, the Dark Web is the most secretive section in the deep web that contains a collection of websites that exist on an encrypted network.
Most sites in the dark web use the Tor encryption tool to hide their identity. Tor is popular with the websites in the dark web for its ability to bounce both the users IP address and the websites IP address through layers of encryption to make each of them appear to be at another IP address on the Tor network.
That way, you can spoof your location to appear as if you’re in a different location and not your real location contributing to your anonymity.
Who Uses The Dark Web?
Contrary to the assumption by many that the dark web is a reserve for drug trafficking, child pornography, hitmen and everything illegal, the dark web is also used for good by journalists, scientists, and government agencies.
It is also a lifeline for those in dangerous and oppressive regimes. Simply put, the dark web is a place for those who seek to stay anonymous and keep their communications and transactions away from the surface web.
Bitcoin- The Currency Of The Dark Web
Bitcoin can be defined as a technology that creates digital currency using cryptographic code. Transactions in the dark web are made possible by the virtual currency.
The sender transmits their bitcoin code via a ledger called “block chain” to the recipient. Though Bitcoin is not perfectly anonymous, with proper use, it can facilitate online transactions anonymously without revealing the identity of the parties. Bitcoin is widely employed in the dark web transactions because of its anonymity and also because banks and governments do not control it.
How To Browse The Dark Web
As discussed above, the dark web contains both interesting and terrible content. If you are planning to access the dark web, you had better take the following precautions.
- The dark web can be safe if you play your cards right. You need to use the Tor browser bundle as it is pre-configured to protect you against privacy threats.
- If you are going to register on any site on the dark web, don’t use your real email, a username that you’ve used before or intend to use in the future as well as your real name.
- It is advisable to seek reviews of a site to ensure it has a good reputation before you engage in any commercial transactions on the dark web. We advise you use Bitcoin, but even then, ensure that the site provides an escrow service.
- Avoid downloading anything while on the dark web unless you are completely sure of what you are doing. Where you intend to download any content, you had better use a competent virus tool such as Virus Total to scan the content.
- Connecting to Tor via a “bridge” might be helpful if you are in a location where connecting to Tor might cause problems for you. You can access valuable instructions for acquiring bridge addresses and how to configure your software at Tor Project: Bridges.
- Finally, we advise you to exercise good judgment while surfing the dark web. Honing your own sense of possibility and perspective will go a long way to protecting your privacy than any defensive software.
Tor, The Best Way To Access The Dark Web
Though there are several ways to accessing the dark web, Tor is the most widely used method. Other methods are the IP2 and Freenet.
The US military initially developed Tor which later on became open source and public funded. The Tor browser is available for use on Windows, Mac, OSX, or Linux without the need for installing any software.
Tor can also run off a USB flash drive, is portable and comes with a preconfigured browser to protect your anonymity.
- Begin by login on to the Tor Projects website https://www.torproject.org to access direct download links.
- Download the file for your preferred language and operating system, save the file anywhere and then “double click “on it.
- Click “Run,” choose the language of the installer and then click “OK.”
- Make sure you have at least 140mb of free disk space in the location you select. You can save the file wherever it pleases you, be it on the Desktop, or even on a USB flash disk as a way of limiting the traces that you leave behind and then click “install.”
- The installer takes a few minutes to complete. Then click “Finish” to launch Tor Browsers wizard.
- Finally, when you see Tor Browser’s Wizard Click “Connect.”
An alternative method of launching Tor browser is to go to the folder “Tor Browser” found at the location you saved the bundle and double click the start Tor Browser application. The Tor Browser will automatically open.
Only the web pages visited via the Tor Browser will be sent through Tor. Other Web Browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer will not be affected.
Alternatives To Tor For Accessing The Dark Web
I2P is an anonymous overlay network that can only be used to access hidden websites and services that are unique to the I2P network. You cannot use I2P to access .onion sites because it is a separate network from Tor. I2P has its own hidden sites referred to as “eepsites”
I2P aims at protecting communication monitoring by third parties and from dragnet surveillance. Among its users are oppressed people, journalists, and whistleblowers as well as the average person looking to secure his privacy.
I2P makes privacy attacks harder to mount. The I2P is available on Desktops, Android phones and embedded systems (like the Raspberry Pi)
What Do You Get With I2P?
• Emails: You get an integrated plugging for serverless emails
• Anonymous websites and gateways both to and from the public internet
• Availability of blogging and Syndie plugins for Blogging and Forums
• Web hosting from an integrated anonymous web server
• Instant messaging as well as IRC client
• File sharing is available through the built-in BitTorrent as ED2K and Gnutella clients.
I2P is much faster than Tor. And the peer to peer routing structure is more advanced. I2P does not depend on a trusted directory to get route information. Another advantage of I2P is that it uses one-way tunnels so that an eavesdropper can only capture inbound or outbound traffic but not both.
Setting up I2P is involving and requires more configuration on the user’s part as contrasted with Tor. After downloading I2P, you must configure individual applications separately to work with I2P. In the case of a web browser, you have to set up your browsers proxy settings to use the correct port.
Freenet is a self-contained peer-to-peer network that helps to provide censorship-resistant communication as well as publishing. Freenet enables users to connect to the dark web and only uses content uploaded to the Freenet.
Unlike Tor and I2P, a server is not needed to host content, and the content that you upload on Freenet stays there permanently.
Freenet allows connection to the darknet mode and the opennet mode. In the darknet mode, Freenet will allow you to connect and share content with only your friends on the network. In the opennet mode, Freenet automatically assigns peers on the network.
Freenet is easy to configure, and you only need to download, install and run. Freenet enables users to browse websites, publish files and post on forums within the Freenet network with high privacy protection.
Searching The Deep Web Without Tor
Google and other powerful search engines can’t crawl and index the data in the dark web. However, there are specialized deep web search engines that crawl over the Tor network successfully and bring results to your regular browser.
Some of the best deep and dark web user-friendly search engines are:
The deep web search engines communicate to the service through Tor and resolve the .onion links thereby delivering their output to your surface web browser.
Best VPN When Using Tor To Access The Dark Web.
If you are planning to access the dark web, you should understand that Tor alone will not provide the highest levels of protection. Tor is known to anonymize the origin of your traffic and encrypting everything inside the Tor network, but not your traffic between the Tor network and its final destination.
Because of this and other flaws, it is advisable to use another end to end encryption service preferably a VPN service to achieve maximum anonymity.
Using Tor in combination with a VPN service can provide an extra layer of security as it mitigates the disadvantages of using either technology exclusively. However, not any other VPN service can provide the required level of anonymity protection.
And so, here are some of the features you should look out for in the best VPN when using Tor to access the dark web:
- The best VPN service should be one that allows subscription payments through mixed Bitcoins. Any money trail limits anonymity.
- The VPN should have a Multihop routing feature. The feature makes traffic analysis attacks difficult as the public IP you get is different that the IP of the gateway to which you are connecting.
- The VPN service must not keep logs. The goodness for not keeping logs is that if the VPN service is confronted by law enforcement to surrender the logs, they won’t have any to give.
- The best VPN for accessing the dark web should have a client with VPN kills switch and DNS leak protection.
We found the following VPN services to offer the best protection when using Tor to access the dark web:
Though based in the United States, IPVanish is a tier-1 VPN service with absolute control over all their VPN servers. They keep no logs so that even if they are requested by the strength of a Court Order to surrender a user’s records, they will have none. IPVanish accepts Bitcoin payments and also allows P2P as a user activity.
7-Day Hassle-Free Money Back Guarantee
Based in the Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is not affected by the Data Retention Laws. They do not keep logs and accept Bitcoin payments. ExpressVPN provides DNS leak protection that is helpful for protecting your privacy while you surf the dark web.
30-Day Money Back Guarantee
CyberGhost is among the big player in the security industry. The company is based in Romania and thanks to local privacy laws it doesn’t keep any log of your activity. CyberGhost provides its users with strong military grade 256-bit AES encryption, a Kill switch, and port forward secrecy. To be noted that CyberGhost has some of the most economical plans on the market without compromising the security.
Visit CyberGhost VPN
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NordVPN is a service that is based in Panama. The location is excellent for a VPN service as rules there are relaxed. They don’t log user activity and accept Bitcoin payments. NordVPN also has unique options such as double VPN and Tor over VPN. The features make NordVPN viable for accessing the dark web as your IP address can’t find out that you are using Tor.
30-day Money Back Guarantee
Le VPN is an extremely reliable provider based in France. Among its feature you may appreciate the unique Hybrid VPN function that guarantees an added layer of security. Encryption is top notch and the company doesn’t keep logs of your activity.
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AirVPN offers strong encryption and supports SSL/SSH tunneling and Tor over VPN. The feature is important for protecting IP address as well as to bypass any blocks on the Tor exit nodes. They allow Bitcoin payment and do not log user activity which makes them a perfect protection while accessing the dark web.
3-Day Money Back Guarantee
Buffered VPN is considered to be one of the fastest and most secure VPN providers. Its headquarter is in Gibraltar and the company takes your security seriously. Buffered VPN features one of the best encryption algorithm on the market and, of courser, it has a strict no-logs policy. The service is very versatile and fitting to any kind of users.
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Silk Road – An Insight To The Dark Web
Silk Road was an anonymous underground marketplace for the exchange of any type of goods from drugs such as LSD, Cocaine, and high-grade MDMA to forged documents and even hit men.
Silk Road was a great success and generated about $ 1.2 billion dollars with more than a million users worldwide, thanks to a perfect innovative combination of Tor and Bitcoin.
Silk Road was massive dark market with sophistication and ease of use. It offered more than 13,000 items with fast and free shipping, call it the Amazon and eBay of the dark marketplace.
Tor made it possible for Silk Road users to transact anonymously as all the communication through Tor is strongly encrypted. Bitcoin, on the other hand, ensured through its anonymized transactions that even the police would get nowhere with their investigations.
Silk Road was the creature of Ross William Ulbricht. He used a pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts.” Ulbricht had always wanted to create an online black market that utilized a combination of Tor and Bitcoin to evade law enforcement. The vendors of Silk Road were sought out using encryption keys to verify their identities.
The FBI arrested Ulbricht and shut down what they referred to as the “most sophisticated and extensive criminal market on the internet.” However, the demise of Silk Road did little to hamper the sale of drugs on the dark net. In fact, Silk Road was back and interestingly, run by someone calling themselves Dread Pirates Roberts.
The Deep Web as we have seen is invisible part of the World Wide Web. To say that the dark web is a place of illegal activities only amounts to throwing the baby with the bath water.
After the Assange –Snowden revelations and the understanding of NSA’s surveillance programs, the public is fearing for their privacy. It is becoming a daily routine activity to anonymize our communication and the deep web is becoming an option for securing sensitive communication.
The dark web will continue to exist for the bad and the good. We have given you valuable information on the dark web and how to access it safely. We hope you will protect your privacy accordingly should you decide to access the dark web.