You’ve heard of the Dark Web, right? It’s that hidden part of the internet where you can buy drugs and weapons, among other illicit items. If you’re thinking of using it to access illegal content, be prepared for a world of hurt. Here’s how to stay safe when exploring the dark side:
The “how to enter the dark web” is a tutorial that will teach you how to access the Dark Web. This article is meant for educational purposes and should not be used as an instructional guide.
Did you realize that Google just provides a brief overview of all the websites that are truly available? The whole internet is thought to be 500 times bigger than what Google provides in its search results.
The “surface web” is the area of the internet that the majority of people access every day. This area of the internet is easily available to the general public and is indexed by search engines like Google, Bing, and others.
Many people commonly refer to the “deep web,” “dark web,” or “invisible web” as all the websites and material that isn’t being shown on the “surface web.”
Content that search engines like Google do not index is found on Internet depth. These types of data include private forums and networks, academic papers, financial data, health records, and other material.
The Shadow Web is made up of online material that can only be accessed with appropriate software, setups, and authorisation. Darknets are overlay networks on the internet. The Tor browser is perhaps the most well-known method of used to access The Shadow Web. (More on it in a moment.)
Although it may seem strange, the fact that Google does not index certain sites makes some sense. The goal of Google is to swiftly and simply provide the most relevant information to all of its consumers. In other words, Google aims to cut down on the time people spend looking for specific questions.
Google believes that the vast majority of online material is completely worthless to its consumers and extremely irrelevant. Because of this, Google Search does not return as much of the internet (up to 94 percent).
All of these sites’ material is saved on Google’s servers, however it’s mostly made up of dated, old content, stuff from mobile apps, journals, court documents, private social network accounts, and much more.
Therefore, despite the fact that it is available online, Google does not index any of these sites or contents.
But if they can’t be located by Google, Bing, or Yahoo, how can you access all these websites, pages, and pieces of information on Internet depth and black web? How do you use these websites’ navigation? Is visiting these sites secure?
I’ll provide you with the answers to these queries in this manual, along with details on a number of other fascinating deep web-related subjects.
Let me start by making it clear that this post is meant for readers who wish to utilize The Shadow Web for legitimate and necessary activities, such as locating banned news, restricted websites, and other essential services.
This essay will concentrate on lawful activities since Pixel Privacy respects digital privacy and opposes its use for horrific or criminal behaviors.
But before we do that, it’s critical to comprehend how The World Wide Web, deep web, and black web vary from one another.
The World Wide Web
The World Wide Web (often referred to as the “visible web”) is the portion of the web available to the general public and indexed in the standard web search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Any mention to the Visible Web will often relate to well-known websites having a well-known internet domain extension.
Top-level domain is another term for domain extension (TLD). It comes at the end of an internet domain name, just after the last dot. For instance, the “.com” top-level domain includes both PixelPrivacy.com and Google.com.
So, sites that contain a domain extension like .com, .org, .net, .biz, .info, etc. can be found on The World Wide Web. In addition, the content on the pages don’t need any special or custom configuration to access.
Google claimed to be aware of 30 million pages in 2013. According to Search Engine Land, Google was aware of an astounding 130 trillion different sites in 2016. (and this number is growing constantly). The number of pages in Google’s database has also been updated officially as recently as this.
Thus, in less than three years, the number of pages has surged by more than 100 trillion. Theoretically, Google may be aware of more than 200 trillion distinct pages (these are obviously NOT all indexed in the search engine).
Around 48 billion individual pages have been indexed by Google as of late April 2018.
We can determine what percentage is indexed by doing a quick computation using the total number of pages that Google has indexed and the total number of pages that are now known (my current estimate of the entire number of pages that are known).
200 trillion divided by 48 billion equals 0.024.
Thus, just 0.024 percent of all sites known to exist may be found using Google’s search engine. Users may only access a small portion of the info and websites that are accessible.
The majority of the web is called the “deep web” (often referred to as the “invisible” or “hidden” web). Internet depth is basically all the content that you can’t find using Google or Yahoo search.
Everyone can access Internet depth. You don’t need special tools or a special browser like you need to access The Shadow Web (more about that later). Anyone can access Internet depth by using specialized search engines, dedicated web directories and other sources that can help you find the data or information.
Listed below are some deep web search engines:
For example, you can only find your Facebook friends, photos and other information by logging into your Facebook account and finding the information there. On Internet depth, you can find such “private” information on web pages.
You can also find email messages, online bank statements and much more information on Internet depth – information that is usually private and inaccessible by the public on The World Wide Web.
Government institutions, researchers, academics and large enterprises store vast amounts of data on Internet depth, but it’s impossible to access by the general public without using one of Internet depth search engines I mentioned above.
Internet depth contains sites and pages that are often prevented from being indexed by search engines and contain unlinked content. Such content is created by dynamic web pages. It can also reside in web archives, non-HTML pages and so forth.
For example, Internet depth is often a platform used by political activists who own a blog. But it also contains other news and religious sites, private discussion forums and medical records.
You could compare Internet depth with our knowledge about the oceans. Although oceans cover more than 70% of our planet, we have only explored 5% of it. That’s only a fraction of what’s out there, which is identical to what’s available to the general public on The World Wide Web.
The University of California, Berkeley researched the size of Internet depth. Their research estimated the size of Internet depth to be around 7.5 petabytes. To put that number into perspective: 7.5 petabytes is 7,500 terabytes, and The World Wide Web contains 19 terabytes. As I mentioned previously, 19 terabytes is only 0.253% of Internet depth.
The Shadow Web
The Shadow Web (often referred to as the “dark net,” “black web” or “black net”) is a small section of Internet depth that is hidden and kept inaccessible to regular internet users on purpose.
Unlike the surface and deep web, you can’t access The Shadow Web via a standard or specialized search engine. To access The Shadow Web, you’ll need a specific set of tools – more about that later in the step-by-step section.
The Shadow Web is infamous for containing sites such as Silk Road and other Marketplaces where users could potentially buy drugs and/or weapons, stolen credit cards, IDs and much more.
Silk Road became one of the most famous online black markets on The Shadow Web for illegally selling drugs.
But human trafficking, child pornography, money laundering and assassinations are also examples of the darkest corners on The Shadow Web.
While I know that none of my readers are looking to engage in any of the activities I’ve mentioned, I felt that it was important for my readers to be aware of the dangers that lurk on The Shadow Web.
The Shadow Web addresses are a randomly-scrambled sequence that generates URLs, mostly hard to remember ones. For example, the URL of Silk Road is rather unintelligible and may look something like “gan4arvj452janndj4a76.onion”.
The power of The Shadow Web is the anonymity factor. Absolutely no one knows who’s surfing on The Shadow Web, who is selling, who is buying or anything like that – as long as you take the correct safety and online privacy precautions.
The users of The Shadow Web are typically aiming to block governments from snooping on them. This can often be for political reasons, but also because they may be involved in illegal activities, such as the ones listed above.
However, not all usage of The Shadow Web is for illegal intent. Social networks, such as Facebook, have created dark web versions of their sites to address privacy problems related to their surface web versions. ExpressVPN has created a .onion version of its website to allow greater privacy and anonymity for Tor browser users.
Who Uses The Shadow Web?
You can’t access The Shadow Web with a normal browser. Those who access The Shadow Web do so via the Tor (The Onion Router) browser.
In the middle of the 1990s, mathematicians and computer scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory devised the fundamental idea behind the Tor network. For the purpose of safeguarding internet intelligence communications, the U.S. Army created “onion routing.”
The goal was to safeguard American military personnel and field operatives, as well as politicians who engaged in top-secret meetings and communications.
The Shadow Web is a very popular platform for journalists, political bloggers and political news publishers, and in particular, those living in countries where censorship shields most of the internet.
Freedom of expression is not always guaranteed in these nations, as is the case in Iran, where users who criticize the clerics in charge of the nation may risk harassment or even incarceration.
Especially for these people, The Shadow Web is the perfect platform to communicate and publish information without having to worry about imprisonment or any other form of retribution.
The Shadow Web is also a haven for whistleblowers and information-leakers. For example, Edward Snowden uses the Tor network.
The same anonymity that publishers enjoy on The Shadow Web can be utilized by users who want to read the available information. Again, people who live in countries where the freedom of the internet is limited, for example in China, can really benefit from using Tor.
Lastly, The Shadow Web is also used by activists and revolutionaries (like Anonymous). The Shadow Web serves as a platform where activists can organize gatherings in secret, without the fear of giving away their plans or position to the government.
We’ve also previously mentioned the “dark users” that use The Shadow Web for illegal reasons, but the less said about them, the better.
As you are now familiar with the 3 different sections within the entire world wide web, let’s take a closer look at how you can access The Shadow Web anonymously.
Step-by-Step: How to Access The Shadow Web
The Shadow Web is a decentralized web, which means that the data is stored on many different servers around the world.
The majority of the users on The Shadow Web use the Tor (The Onion Router) browser. A vast number of URLs have domain endings such as “.onion,” which means that the URLs are only accessible by Tor users.
For users of Windows, MacOS, and Linux operating systems, there is the Tor browser.
So, adhere to the instructions I’ve provided below to access the Tor network.
1. Install a reliable VPN first
It’s important to arm yourself with a good VPN (Virtual Private Network) when you want to enter The Shadow Web to protect your privacy and anonymity.
The Shadow Web is built to do things anonymously, but only if you take actions to maintain your privacy. It’s especially important to take your privacy seriously if, strictly out of curiosity, you want to browse the market places on The Shadow Web. (But seriously, stay out of there. Nothing good or legal is sold on dark web websites – that’s what Amazon is for.)
It is common knowledge that the FBI and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) monitor Tor users. Of course, not every user, but you never know whether someone could be keeping an eye on you.
Your ISP can’t see which websites you’re visiting on The Shadow Web when you’re using Tor, but they might be able to predict or assume you are using Tor if they analyze your monitored internet traffic.
However, as stated before, nothing you read or transmit or receive over the Tor network will be visible to your ISP.
When you install a VPN, all of your activities on The Shadow Web will be hidden from unwanted snoops from your ISP or the FBI. The VPN is a second layer of extra protection, on top of the protection that the Tor network already offers.
That implies a VPN will still shield your privacy even if the Tor network is hacked or there is a new vulnerability attack. The compromised Tor exploit may be able to identify you, but your VPN will divert that information, making it impossible to identify you.
VPNs also shield you from hackers who could be wanting your payment information or personal information. (Hackers are another major issue, particularly on Dark Web sites. The “Words of Caution” section has further information about this.)
It’s crucial to choose a VPN based on a few crucial considerations. First and foremost, it’s crucial that your VPN does not maintain any records. The VPN also has to work with Tor. Third, a VPN ought to be quick.
There are a number of other qualities to look for in a decent VPN. Wish to learn more? If you want to learn more about VPNs, see my in-depth guide on them.
To discover my top selections and why, see my post on the best VPNs for Tor.
Download Tor Browser 2.
It’s impossible to access The Shadow Web with a regular browser like Chrome or Safari.
Instead, you need to get the Tor browser to access The Shadow Web. Make sure that when you download the Tor file, it’s from their official website.
Remember to turn on your VPN before downloading the Tor browser!
So once your VPN is active and your privacy is protected, go to Tor’s official download page.
You may then download the file by simply clicking the operating system you are using.
3. Download the Tor web browser.
It’s time to install the Tor browser on your device now that the download has been finished. To open the downloaded file, just double-click it in your downloads folder.
Select “extract” and then select the place where you wish to save the installation files for Tor.
For Mac users only:
If you blocked installs from unknown developers, you won’t be able to use the “TorBrowser.”
- Select System Preferences.
- Click on “Security & Privacy”
- At the bottom of the page, choose “Open Anyway.”
4. A pop-up confirmation will appear. Then choose “Open.”
Launch the Tor browser.
Now is the moment to start the engines! Double-clicking “Start Tor Browser” or “TorBrowser” will launch the Tor browser (for Mac users).
You must choose “Connect” when you initially launch the Tor browser.
The Tor browser will then launch a new window. From this point on, you may visit “.onion” websites and other dark web browser domains completely anonymously and in safety.
How to Navigate The Shadow Web
You may now visit the dark web and other (previously hidden) websites in safety because you’ve installed the Tor browser.
However, it’s vital to take additional security measures if you want to do more with the Tor network than just view websites (for your own safety, keep to legal purchases only).
If you want to buy something on The Shadow Web, it’s a best practice to create a fake identity. I strongly urge you that if you’re looking to purchase items on the web, stick to websites like Amazon, where there is at least a way to resolve issues with unreceived items and such.
However, if you must buy items from The Shadow Web, set up a secure, encrypted email with CounterMail or ProtonMail. For more information, read more about the most secure email service providers in my other post.
The next step is to build a Bitcoin wallet that is private.
The final step is to start looking into potential merchants and deciding which marketplace would be a good location to make a purchase.
It is obvious that finding these websites might be challenging as they don’t appear in the Google search results.
To identify appropriate markets, you may utilize a variety of “.onion” search engines including “onion.city,” “onion.to,” and “notevil.”
Visit the helpful thread on Reddit to locate and browse additional regions of the dark web or markets. Search for information on /r/deepweb, /r/TOR, or /r/onions; the latter is helpful for discovering hidden wikis and other things. You won’t discover anything illegal on many of these Reddits since connecting to unlawful websites and services is prohibited by their rules.
But remember, it’s essential to take all the necessary and important security steps before entering such sites on The Shadow Web. As mentioned before, your ISP and government institutions are not able to see what sites you visit on the Tor network, but they can probably see that you use Tor.
(You can also find yourself at risk from hackers, malware and other hazards. For more information, see the “Words of Caution When Using The Shadow Web” section below.)
Even just that could prompt suspicion and put you under more scrutiny. According to some stories, if the FBI learns you’re using the Tor browser, they’ll just classify you as a “criminal.”
Additionally, the FBI will be able to search and seize any machine that is running the Tor browser or VPN according to a recently adopted legislation by the U.S. Supreme Court. A federal court may obtain a search and seizure order under Rule No. 41 for anybody who is using an anonymizing program like Tor.
All of the above is why I strongly recommend using The Shadow Web not for access to iffy or outright illegal trading of goods and services, but instead to gain access to information you might normally be blocked from.
As I mentioned previously, The Shadow Web is quite popular with journalists, political bloggers and news publishers, and others who run the risk of imprisonment in countries like Iran and others.
The same anonymity that content creators enjoy protects users who seek to access this information. Popular news websites have established deep webpages, like ProPublica. Facebook also provides access to its social network on the dark web.
A Different Anonymous Network
The “.onion” websites are not the only options. These alternatives are only options for consumers looking to make their online activities as secure as possible; they are not always safer or cleaner.
I2P serves as a Tor substitute. Only sites that are accessible over the I2P network may be accessed using I2P.
This implies that I2P is unable to access “.com” or “.onion” websites since these servers are not accessible over the network. In actuality, I2P created its own “eepsites” domain ending structure.
I2P benefits stem from a network that is significantly quicker and more dependable. Furthermore, I2P is independent of the resources used by.onion domains, such as hidden folders.
The configuring procedure is also pretty challenging. I2P configuration and port selection must be done manually via the router’s panel. Additionally, you need to manually change the proxy settings on your browser.
Similar to I2P, Freenet only allows connections to websites that are part of its own network. The platform provides both darknet and opennet modes.
You may choose which buddies on the network you want to join to in darknet mode and only share dark web material with them. As a result, people may create groups and only exchange stuff with other known darknet users in a very anonymous network.
In opennet mode, the network will randomly pair you up with other Freenet users.
Although darknet connections provide higher protection against network intruders, opennet connections are more user-friendly.
Additionally, Freenet’s installation is a simple procedure. You just need to download the file and install the program before you can use the web-based interface.
Use of Dark Web Sites Should Be Avoided
It’s no secret that The Shadow Web can be a tricky and dangerous place for the general internet user. In this section, I’ll be covering the risks of The Shadow Web.
Since of its complete anonymity for intelligent users, the possibility of encountering evil individuals is also real because they may act quite freely without worrying about being discovered engaging in illegal activity.
The “bad guys” have greater opportunities to sell narcotics, credit cards, stolen IDs, firearms, and many other compromised goods or pieces of information thanks to the high degrees of anonymity.
Unfortunately, it’s also a site where criminal persons, like hitmen or hackers, may advertise their services.
That’s not all. The Shadow Web is also a place for scammers to attract vulnerable and unwitting victims. The platform is also used by governmental cyber departments to identify and track potential criminals or offenders. This is made easy, because the anonymity works both ways. You can never be sure who’s really behind the other end of the line.
There’s a significant risk to dark web users of being exposed to malware (malicious software) infections. There are several programs that hackers frequently use on The Shadow Web.
- The architecture of Vawtrak was created to provide access to bank accounts.
- Keylogger called Nionspy records keystrokes and keystroke combinations. It collects papers, and some of the more sophisticated versions can even record audio and video.
- This particular software is used by hackers to steal Bitcoin. Additionally, they may use it to infect computers and utilize those compromised machines as part of a botnet. DDoS assaults and other sorts of malware may be distributed through botnets.
The Shadow Web is home to both legal and illegal products. You can either sell or buy goods on The Shadow Web, but both present difficulties.
When you buy an item on The Shadow Web, you won’t get a tracking code, you can’t be sure whether you’ll actually receive the goods, the seller may also suddenly disappear, the seller might be an impersonator but is actually a law enforcement employee, or the seller might have agreed on a deal with the FBI and is now active as an informer.
In any case, I strongly recommend avoiding purchases on The Shadow Web. If the product or service you’re attempting to buy is illegal, you’re running the risk of arrest. If legal items are what you’re in the market for, you’re better protected against fraud and theft by using a site like Amazon.
In addition to the brief introduction of “fake” Marketplaces on The Shadow Web, dark web users visiting political sites on the Tor network should realize that government-funded cyber teams are on the lookout for such users.
This type of Government Monitoring applies mostly to countries with environments that are hostile to free speech.
Government cyber teams have the ability to shut down such websites, detain the proprietors, and then utilize the website to trace and follow people that exhibit website behavior.
Combining such information with information obtained via other means and/or strategies may in reality result in total exposure and finally result in the cops showing up at your house.
This means that as with any online resource, be careful. Be wary of any new Marketplaces popping up on The Shadow Web. Check around with other users and ask if they know anything about the new marketplace.
More Ways to Stay Safe on The Shadow Web
Before connecting, have a plan.
Before connecting to The Shadow Web, make a solid plan. Keep in mind what you’re looking for, find that information, and disconnect from The Shadow Web. As enticing as it might be, don’t follow links to other parts of The Shadow Web.
Never give out personal information
While this is good advice for any type of web browsing, be particularly careful not to offer up any personal details, such as your credit card info or email address. Use cryptocurrency to buy anything, and use a disposable email address for any type of communication on The Shadow Web.
Utilize a Dedicated Browser
It’s advisable to utilize a separate computer if you can for your dark web activities.
The advantage of using a dedicated computer just to browse The Shadow Web is that your main computer isn’t exposed to any of the threats or risks tied to entering The Shadow Web. In case of an attack, you can be sure that any of the data or information stored on your main computer will be safe.
If using a dedicated workstation isn’t an option, create a bootable copy of Tails using a USB stick or DVD. Tails is a live Linux distribution that comes with the Tor Browser and can be used on practically any computer that can boot from a USB or DVD drive.
By utilizing Tails, you reduce the chance that malware or viruses may damage your computer’s default operating system.
Be Vigilant When Roaming Around The Shadow Web
Anyone can access The Shadow Web, and it’s not that complicated to do so. Just remember, if you want to explore The Shadow Web, be very careful.
Simply accessing The Shadow Web and using the Tor browser may already raise government suspicion.
Also, there’s a vast amount of unsavory content on The Shadow Web, as well as a significantly high number of hackers and scammers looming on the platform.
If you decide to enter The Shadow Web, always make sure to take all the necessary online privacy precautions. Don’t just click and open random pages, files or emails – always be vigilant when roaming around The Shadow Web.
Last but not least, we here at Pixel Privacy never condone illegal activity. Never break the law. Keep in mind that offensive material is always just a click or two away. Browse The Shadow Web safely, and use it for legal purposes only!
Dark Web FAQ
Is It Illegal to Enter The Shadow Web?
t is not illegal to enter The Shadow Web. However, you must be careful to avoid the illegal activities that are available on The Shadow Web, such as certain pornographic materials and the sale of illegal items and substances, including drugs, stolen information and merchandise, and weapons, to name a few.
Is The Shadow Web, Deep Web and Dark Net All the Same?
While The Shadow Web, deep web and dark net are all different, they do overlap in certain areas.
Internet depth is content that search engines such as Google do not index. This can include medical records, research papers, private forums and networks.
The Shadow Web is content that exists on dark nets, which require specialized software (like the Tor Browser), configurations and authorization to access. These can include the previously mentioned illegal offerings, but can also include ultra private information designed to be shared only with certain parties.
How Much of the Internet Is the Dark Web?
As noted by Andy Greenberg at Wired, while Internet depth makes up approximately 90% of the internet, The Shadow Web makes up only around 0.1% and is designed to provide anonymity for users and site owners.
The “how to access the black market” is a tutorial that will teach you how to access the dark web. This article will also provide some cautions on what not to do when using the dark web.
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